Food for a better night's sleep
Stressed out and tired of not sleeping at night? We all know what it feels like to be exhausted and groggy after a toss n’ turn kind of night in bed. Did you know that what you put into your mouth (and feed your body) plays a role in you fall asleep, stay asleep and keep your circadian rhythms in check? Here are a few anti-inflammatory, whole foods that you can toss into your lifestyle starting today to get your shut-eye back on track. Add these ingredients into your salads, sandwiches, yogurt, cereal or any other meal and snack you choose. I’ve also created a delicious watermelon salad for you that’s super easy for summer and will help get your melatonin (your sleeping hormone) ready for a peaceful night of rest.
Spinach: This leafy green is chock full of magnesium and potassium as well as calcium; three minerals that play a role in helping you sleep at night. Surprisingly, calcium helps your body create melatonin, the hormone that helps your body maintain its circadian rhythm. You can also choose kale, collard greens and Swiss chard, if desired.
Chamomile: Drinking Chamomile tea is a great way to get your body into relaxation mode at the end of the day. Purchase organic chamomile tea leaves or tea bags and steep them in boiling water with fresh lemon for an easy way to get your body into sleep mode before you get into bed.
Bananas: This fruit is high in potassium and magnesium, two key minerals to help relax your muscles while you sleep. They’re also soaring with the amino acid, tryptophan that can help with the quality of your sleep.
Lentils: Rich in magnesium, which is key for getting a good night’s sleep. They’re also a great source of fiber and protein, which will help keep you satisfied until your next meal. Lentils are high in potassium to help you sleep through the night.
Almonds/Almond Butter: These nuts are high in magnesium, which relaxes your muscles and helps regulate your sleep patterns. Purchase raw (not roasted or salted) almonds or almond butter so that you are getting the food in its whole form without any inflammatory vegetable oils or refined salts that are often added with processing.
Walnuts/Walnut Butter: These nuts are a great source of melatonin, which helps your body relax and get into rest mode at night when the sun goes down. Add walnuts to your granola or into your salads for a great source of protein and healthy fats. Always be sure to purchase these seeds in their raw form without added salt or oils.
Pumpkin Seeds/Pumpkin Seed Butter: These seeds are packed with nutrients such as tryptophan. Enjoy a handful of pumpkin seeds (or pumpkin seed butter) with sliced apples for a simple afternoon snack or evening nibble before bed to help you relax. Always be sure to purchase these seeds in their raw form without added salt or oils.
Lemon Balm Tea: This tea is made from lemon balm, the herb that contains naturally occurring oils with compounds that can help with better sleep quality and relaxation. You can easily brew your own tea by using 4 tsp. lemon balm dried leaves and letting them steep in 1 ½ cups boiling water for 15 minutes. Then strain and drink.
Cherries: This tart fruit is one of the few sources of the sleep hormone, melatonin that regulates your internal clock. Choose fresh cherries or cherry juice (no sugar added) for the best sleep results.
Here’s a beautiful summer recipe that you can create for summer entertaining or a simple weekend dinner at home. It’s loaded with antioxidants, fiber, protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates to keep you satisfied. This is an anti-inflammatory salad so it’s a perfect meal to serve at the end of the day a few hours before bedtime; it’s light enough so you can get to bed easily but also gives you a dose of anti-inflammatory ingredients that your body needs to detox while you sleep.
Watermelon Quinoa Salad
• ½ cup quinoa
• 2 cups (½ inch) cubes watermelon
• 2 cups baby spinach
• 3 small red radishes, trimmed and quartered
• 3 Tbsp. raw walnuts
• 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil leaves
• 2 Tbsp. creamy almond butter
• Juice of 1 large lemon
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine the room temperature quinoa, watermelon, spinach, radishes, walnuts and basil leaves. Drizzle with the almond butter and lemon juice. Gently toss to combine so that the almond butter and lemon juice coat all of the ingredients. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and serve immediately.
About our guest food blogger: Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP is the Editor-in-Chief of www.TheHealthyApple.com. She is a chef, culinary nutritionist, professional recipe developer, food photographer, writer, and motivational speaker specializing in simple gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free “clean eating” recipes. After visiting countless doctors and the Mayo Clinic with no results, Amie was able to heal herself from a decade of chronic pain and multiple ailments, including Lyme Disease, Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hypothyroidism, Adrenal Fatigue, Leaky Gut, and Heavy Metal and Mold Toxicity. Amie cooks for a variety of clients, including celebrities and people with busy lifestyles, who enjoy healthy, organic, whole foods. Her work appears on Martha Stewart, Fox News Health, WebMD, The Huffington Post, The Food Network, and PBS, and in Glamour, Clean Eating, SELF, Vegetarian Times Prevention, and many other magazines and media outlets. Amie splits her time between Manhattan and New Jersey.