yogurt sauce

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A Sauce to Make You Smile
Kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt are some of the most trendy foods right now. An added bonus: The probiotics in these fermented foods could have a positive effect on physical issues such as indigestion—and may benefit your emotional outlook, as well. A small Dutch study found that people who took a probiotic supplement for four weeks showed a significantly reduced "reactivity to sad mood" and fewer aggressive thoughts. This dipping sauce is a delicious way to incorporate two of these happy foods—yogurt and kimchi—into your diet. It’s great with the shrimp dumplings in this recipe.

Get the recipe: Lemony Shrimp Dumplings with Kimchi-Yogurt Dipping Sauce
garlic sherry mushrooms

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The Totally Legal Way to Cheer Up
The produce section of your supermarket is probably the last place you'd try to find mood-altering mushrooms. But fungi—to clarify, we're talking about regular, nonmagical mushrooms here—can be a good source of vitamin D, which may aid in stimulating serotonin production. Look for a label reading that the mushrooms contain vitamin D—growers use UV light to increase the Vitamin D content but not all mushrooms are exposed to it. Sauté some with garlic, butter and sherry and you've got a rich and feel-good accompaniment to salad, crostini or meat.

Get the recipe: Garlic Sherry Mushrooms
wilted spinach

Photo: Christopher Baker

The Mood-Enhancing Green Side
Dark, leafy vegetables are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, and here's one more reason to load up on them: Many are off-the-charts in folate, a B vitamin that, when deficient, has been linked to depression. Researchers have found that upping the folate levels of depressed patients may assist in reducing symptoms of depression. This warm spinach-salad recipe is a keeper; it's easy to make, doesn't require many ingredients and gets an unexpected crunch from toasted panko and sesame seeds.

Get the recipe: Wilted Spinach with Golden Sesame-Garlic Crumbs
lentil soup

Photo: John Kernick

The Better-Than-Pasta Carb
We often crave starchy foods when we're feeling "blah," and it turns out that there's a legitimate reason why. Carbohydrates can boost levels of serotonin, which helps regulate mood. While a bowl of white pasta may put an immediate smile on your face, it'll also lead to a quick spike, then a quick drop, in your blood sugar, leaving you low-energy and hungry. Complex carbs, such as lentils, on the other hand, take longer to digest, so you avoid the blood-sugar roller coaster and get sustained energy. Try this bright and filling soup, which combines red lentils with Swiss chard, chickpeas and curry powder.

Get the recipe: Curried Red Lentil and Swiss Chard Soup