Food and drink 

Mellow without the yellow:

Keeping an even keel in the midst of the winter blahs

It may well be the endless grey and white wave of Pacific storm after Pacific storm. Or the throngs of tourists and skiers clogging “your” favourite places. Or the joys of a four-hour gridlock from the village to Creekside.

The flu bug or a cold will definitely do it. As will an irksome neighbour who keeps dumping his extra snow in your driveway, or the sheet of black ice that sends you careening into a snow bank.

Any number of things can put you right off your mood centre in winter, and sometimes the happiest solution, besides a trip south (don’t forget to buy your carbon offsets), lies right on our kitchen shelves.

We often forget that many common foods and their accompaniments are perfect for lifting spirits without spirits, or mellowing a craggy, snaggletooth mood when too much winter or not enough sun leaves you feeling sad or S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder — look it up!)

Here are a few of my favourites, all way cheaper and easier on you and the system than a Cancun getaway:


Banana-rama for a lack of drama

My mom loves to tell the story about the two little old ladies (they must have been really old) who sat behind her on the bus, talking about bananas. Oh, you have to eat more of them — they’re so good for your nerves because they’re full of phosphorous, one said. No, no, it’s not phosphorous, dear, it’s phosphorescence, the other replied.

Not to upstage those two old gals, but it’s really the potassium in bananas (they knew it was one of those “p” words) that’s “good for your nerves.” And other than possibly being disappointed over not glowing in the dark after eating one, you’ll be glad to know that bananas are good for you and your mood, possibly explaining why people tried smoking the skins back in the ’60s.

The old “food as medicine” guru Earl Mindell says that an average banana contains about 450 mg of potassium, which is vital for normal blood pressure and for heart function. Bananas also help maintain normal fluid and electrolyte balance, ergo feeding mashed ripe banana to kids who’ve suffered tummy upset. They also contain a lot of B6, which boosts the immune system, helping you avoid colds and flu that might really upset you.

And here’s something I didn’t know that sounds a lot nicer than eating a Tums. Mindell says that bananas make a great natural antacid, so next time you’re suffering a bit of heartburn, try one. And if you’ve never tried an organic one, splurge and treat yourself. They are way tastier and grown in way more varieties than the usual commercial bananas — so just say no to monocultures .

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