Now, more than ever, is the importance of managing stress and healthy routine. Between working from home – homeschooling your 10 year old – hoping that your company continues to ride this wave – there are endless reasons to feel stressed and anxious right now. As difficult as it may be, any sense of routine, healthy habits and stress relief can help during this time.

When we feel stressed or anxious, our bodies release cortisol – the stress hormone – which can increase appetite and is shown to increase fat and sugar intake. As I have shared with many of my clients, it is natural for humans to reach for sugary or high carb options during stressful life events. This is because of brain hormones telling us we need these foods for quick fuel and the release of our happy hormones for momentary relief. Naturally, this eat and trigger affect causes us to do this out of habit.  Temporarily these foods can provide some relief, but research shows that making these choices more often over time can negatively impact your mood.

There is a laundry list of physiological reasons why the eating habit/mental health relationship have this correlation. Happy gut bacteria, adequate intake of vitamins & minerals, sustained blood sugar and insulin levels…but I won’t bore you with the science of it all. The point is that even though cinnamon toast crunch tastes like childhood to you (read: me) that the momentary joy it brings right now won’t help in the long run. So what do we do?

Try our best to focus on maintaining some – any – sense of healthy habits and mindfulness.

Eating a balanced diet (80% real whole lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains that are low in added sugar and saturated fat and 20% some treats) and being physically active can help improve well-being and alleviate depression. Snacking on whole foods or trying new, healthy pantry staple recipes can be a fun way to tackle healthy eating.

Instead of heading to the kitchen in search of something sweet or salty the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try journaling, reading a book or calling a friend. Move your body every day – whether it is a walk outside, a fitness app or deep cleaning. You’ll feel productive and better overall because of it.

Additionally, take extra care not to have overexposure of negative social media regarding COVID-19 outbreak. Try to put habits in place to help getting adequate sleep, practice deep breathing or meditation to alleviate stress and limit alcohol intake. Each of these factors have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing.

I hope you find comfort in cooking this in the kitchen to fuel you and give you comfort for the days ahead.

Carrot & Lentil Patties with Tahini Sauce

These carrot lentil patties, can be created mostly with pantry shelf staple foods and with some veggies. It is full of heart healthy fats, iron, fiber and plant-based protein. These patties are great on top of a salad as the protein or can be eaten tucked into a pita like falafel. If you don’t have some of the ingredients, substitute what you do have. For example, any seed can replace the hemp or another seed or chopped nut can replace the pumpkin seeds.
Keyword heart healthy, pantry staple, vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 10 patties

Ingredients

For the Patties

  • 3 cups carrots diced
  • 1 cup lentils red or green
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped kale or any green on hand
  • 1/2 cup raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds or any other seed (sesame, sunflower seeds, flax seed)

For the Tahini Sauce

  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water as needed
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

For the Patties

  1. Steam the carrots in a steamer over the stove for 25 minutes until tender.
  2. Cook the lentils in 2 cups of water on high until it reaches a boil. Then reduce to simmer and simmer uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until tender.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. 4. Add the steamed carrots, cooked lentils,1/2 cup of the rolled oats, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, cumin, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper to a food processor. Pulse 15 to 20 times, or until the mixture is chunky and all ingredients are well incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides halfway through pulsing.
  5. 5. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, and add the reserved 1/2 cup rolled oats, chopped kale, pepitas, chives, hemp seeds, and cilantro. Use a spoon to mix well, ensuring all ingredients are evenly dispersed. The mixture should be damp but able to hold its shape. If it is too wet, add more oats. If it is too crumbly, you can return back to food processor and pulse ingredients again.
  6. 6. Use a 1/3-cup measuring cup to scoop out 1/3 cup of the mixture. Form the mixture into a patty and transfer to the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture. You should have 10–12 patties.
  7. Bake the patties for 20-25 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.

For the Sauce

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until emulsified and the sauce just begins to take on a soft green color. The herbs should be very finely chopped. Transfer to an airtight jar or container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Enjoy the cooled patties over a bed of greens or in a warm pita topped with sauce.