Natural Mood Boosting Foods + Wild Blueberry and Chocolate Skillet Pancake Recipe

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I don’t know about you, but my mood always takes a turn for the better when I look out my window and see flowers and grass instead of ice and snow. Spring is certainly a mood-booster, but the changing seasons don’t always give you the feel good fuel you need and I’ve got great news to share with you on the food front!

Exciting new research has just been released, revealing that consuming Wild Blueberries, a flavonoid-rich food, may significantly boost mood and help prevent depression in young people. In the first fully controlled double-blind research study examining the effects of flavonoids on mood in young people, it’s suggested that including flavonoids as part of a healthy diet might prevent low mood and depression (in addition to their numerous previously proven health benefits).

The key behind the mood boosting powers of Wild Blueberries is in the flavonoids. Wild Blueberries are rich in anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid that gives Wild Blueberries their deep blue pigment. Anthocyanins are long known to be heart healthy and cancer preventative, and this new research now adds mood-boosting to the list of benefits!

Tons of research over the past decade has documented the positive effects of flavonoids on brain health, suggesting improvements in attention and memory and preventing age-related mental decline. Although research on the association between diet and mental health is in the early stages, the impact of Wild Blueberries on mood are exciting additions to their many other health benefits – and just gives us more reason to enjoy these delicious little berries!

Which brings me to one of my new favorite mood-boosting recipes: Wild Blueberry Chocolate Skillet Pancakes. In addition to the mood-boosting properties of Wild Blueberries, the addition of dark chocolate boosts these pancakes even more. Dark chocolate includes flavanols that boost mood by raising circling levels of serotonin – the “feel good” neurotransmitter. Plus, let’s be honest, pancakes are good-mood food in and of themselves, right?

As it gets warmer and brighter outside, getting out of bed doesn’t feel like as much of a chore as it does in the winter (and my family never complains when I’m making pancakes!). These cast- iron skillet pancakes are not your average hotcakes. First off, they’re a triple whammy of mood-boosting goodness: juicy Wild Blueberries, rich dark chocolate, and cake. That’s right, these pancakes are more cake, than pan. You start with a sprinkle of fruit at the bottom of the skillet and then add your batter and bake. To serve, simply flip the pancake over to reveal a luscious layer of delicious Wild Blueberries that have baked into the bottom. Absolutely divine!

Trust me, if the spring weather doesn’t get you out bed, these pancakes sure will.

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Wild Blueberry & Chocolate Skillet Pancakes

¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
½ tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 large eggs
½ cup + 1 Tbsp. unsweetened coconut milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more to coat pan (may use coconut oil to make vegan)
½ cup frozen Wild Blueberries
¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 450. Place cast iron skillet in the oven. I used a small, 4-inch cast iron skillet to make individual cakes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs and then whisk in the milk and vanilla. Melt the butter and whisk the butter into the milk mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, and whisk until a thick batter is just formed. Stir in dark chocolate chips.

Remove cast-iron skillet from oven. Swirl a teaspoon or so of butter into the bottom of the pan. Layer the bottom of pan with half of the frozen Wild Blueberries. Pour half of the batter over the Wild Blueberries. Place in the oven and heat 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. After cooking, remove from the oven and let cook a few minutes before loosening from pan and flipping for serving. Top with a sprinkle of white sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

 

About the Author

Danielle Omar is a registered dietitian, clean-eating coach, teacher and cookbook author. She is a passionate food and nutrition educator and founded Danielle Omar Nutrition to support busy men and women on their journey to becoming their healthiest self. An avid cook, she also enjoys sharing plant-based recipes and nutrition strategies on her Food Confidence blog.

Danielle has a Master’s degree in Nutrition and has been teaching nutrition at the college level for over 10 years. She has contributed to local and national media outlets such as The Washingtonian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Shape Magazine, and Women’s Health Magazine. Through her private nutrition practice, media work, and group programs, Danielle has successfully motivated hundreds of busy professionals and families to eat confidently and live a healthy life.