8 Foods for Anxiety and How to Cook With Them, According to a Chef

Updated 05/05/19
Product Disclosure

Few people understand the power of foods as well as than chef Bettina Campolucci. After being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis, she took a serious look at her lifestyle, including her approach to food. Now she has her own cookbook, Happy Food: Fast, Fresh, Simple Vegan, and runs wellness retreats based on her plant-based, gluten-free approach to cooking.

"Food affects our body and mind in so many different ways," she tells MyDomaine. "If we approach food in a positive way from the get-go, it can really help." Campolucci's approach to food involves simplifying her choices to take the stress out of eating and cooking. She suggests eating more plants, going back to basics, and doing your best to eat seasonally and locally.

"Cooking in itself is an act of self-love," she claims. It's part of the reason she sees cooking and mental health as being connected. According to her, giving yourself the time to source and cook nourishing foods is a gift, even if you only have the time to do so every once in a while. "The love that you put into your meal will transpire to yourself and to anyone that you are preparing that meal for," she explains. Next time you feel anxious, try focusing on what you're fueling your body with. Ahead Campolucci shares eight foods for anxiety she turns to and why they're so good for both your body and mind. Keeping reading until the end for a few recipes from her new cookbook to learn how to incorporate these feel-good foods into your diet.

Bananas

Banana Toast
The Modern Proper

"Eating potassium-rich foods such, as bananas, may help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety," Campolucci explains. She points out that they're a great food to eat on the go and while traveling and can easily top off breakfast foods like pancakes and cereal.

Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate
Half Baked Harvest

 "Delicious to eat on its own, great for baking, and lovely melted on top of baked goods," Campolucci says. According to her, studies have found that dark chocolate and cocoa may improve mood, however, the studies are merely observational, so more research still needs to be done. 

Green Tea

Green Tea
Half Baked Harvest

Green tea contains L-theanine, which Campolucci explains is an amino acid that's been studied for its positive effects on brain health and anxiety relief. "My favorite way would be matcha, which is the first buds of tea leaves that get ground into a fine powder," she says.

Pumpkin Seeds

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Minimalist Baker

Pumpkin seeds are packed with potassium to regulate electrolyte balance and manage blood pressure and zinc, which is essential for brain and nerve development, according to Campolucci. She likes to sprinkle the seeds on soups, salads, and porridge, or incorporate them in a homemade pesto.

Turmeric

Turmeric
The First Mess

Thanks to turmeric's active ingredient, curcumin, the spice does wonders for anxiety. It's thought to do so by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress often experienced along with mood disorders like anxiety and depression. Campolucci uses it in stews and hot drinks.

Almonds

almond granola
The Modern Proper

The chef explains that almonds contain lots of vitamin E, which has been studied for its role in anxiety prevention. "Almonds can easily be made into plant milks, ground into flour for baking, or chopped up and used as sprinkles," she says.

Chamomile

Chamomile tea
The First Mess

In a bout of stress, you've likely turned to chamomile tea before for its calming scent and taste, but the tea has actually been studied for its role in anxiety relief. Campolucci suggests drinking chamomile tea with high-quality dried chamomile flowers.

Cinnamon

mulled wine with cinnamon
The Modern Proper

Cinnamon offers anti-inflammatory properties known to reduce feelings of anxiety. "Researchers have identified many different types of flavonoids in cinnamon, all of which are highly effective at fighting dangerous inflammation levels throughout the body," Campolucci explains. She likes to utilize cinnamon in her baking or dusted on top of porridge.

Recipes

Hazelnut Crust Pizza and Peppery Rocket

Hazelnut Crust Pizza and Peppery Rocket
Nassima Rothacker CREDIT: Happy Food: Fast, Fresh, Simple Vegan by Bettina Campolucci Bordi

"I love a good pizza! But it's one of the big no-nos when going gluten-free. I have made this at countless retreats and on many occasions at home. I hope you love it as much as I do."

Serves 2 to 4.

Ingredients for the pizza base:

1 1/2 cups Gluten-free Flour Mix (see below)
1/4 cup hazelnuts, ground in a coffee grinder or
food processor
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing

Ingredients for the toppings:

4 tablespoons Pumpkin Seed Pesto (see below)
1 red onion, sliced
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red (bell) pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow (bell) pepper, sliced
pink Himalayan salt and black pepper, to taste

Ingredients to serve:

Basil
Rocket (arugula)
Drizzle of olive oil
Micro herbs (optional)
Macadamia Ricotta, optional, but recommended for
special occasions

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Add all the pizza base ingredients to a bowl and mix well. The mixture will be quite runny, almost like a cake batter. Don’t worry, it’s meant to be that way.

Line a baking tray (baking sheet) with greaseproof paper (wax paper) and drizzle a very small amount of olive oil on the bottom. Pour the pizza batter into the tray and make sure you have a thin, even layer.

Cook in the oven for 15 minutes until the dough has solidified. Once it has, take it out of the oven and it’s ready to be pimped up with toppings. I love this base with a layer of the pumpkin seed pesto and scatterings of red onion, sundried tomato, cherry tomatoes and peppers. Add your toppings and put the pizza back in the oven for another 15 minutes until it reaches the desired crispness.

Just before serving, scatter a good helping of basil, rocket and extra drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper.

If you have some macadamia ricotta ready-made, add some nice dollops of it on top, too.

DENY Designs Holli Zollinger French Cutting Board
DENY Designs Holli Zollinger French Cutting Board $35
Shop

Gluten-Free Flour Mix

"Many shop-bought gluten-free flour mixes can be unpredictable. Make a double batch of this and you will thank me later. It is not only practical but, more importantly, it works a treat!"

Makes 2 lbs of flour.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups brown rice flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup potato starch/flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour

Directions:

Planetary Design BergHOFF Ron Black 7.5 Chef's Knife
Planetary Design Airscape Glass Food Storage Containers $26
Shop

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Nassima Rothacker CREDIT: Happy Food: Fast, Fresh, Simple Vegan by Bettina Campolucci Bordi

"Pesto is one of my favorite fridge staples—it lasts forever, tastes good on anything and is super easy to make. This particular recipe is made with pumpkin seeds and was developed for clients with nut allergies. Personally, I think pumpkin seeds have a great depth of flavor and bring some fantastic nutritional value to the table. It has even been approved by my full-blooded Italian father in-law."

Makes 9 oz jar.

Ingredients:

1 cup)olive oil, plus extra for sealing
1 cup pumpkin seeds
Bunch of basil (1 oz)
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 tablespoon each salt and black pepper

Directions:

Simply add all the ingredients to a blender and blitz until you have a lovely pesto.

Smeg '50S Retro Style Blender
Smeg '50S Retro Style Blender $250
Shop

One-Pot Curry in a Hurry

One-Pot Curry in a Hurry
Nassima Rothacker CREDIT: Happy Food: Fast, Fresh, Simple Vegan by Bettina Campolucci Bordi

"Have you had a long day at work? Do you just want to chuck everything into a pot and let it cook itself? Then this is the dish for you. By the time you have put on your comfies and slippers this creamy, indulgent one-pot curry will be ready to be eaten."

Serves two.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon good-quality yellow curry spice mix, plus more if required
1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
1/2 aubergine (eggplant), chopped into small pieces
1 potato, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup dried red lentils
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 tablespoon peanut butter
big handful of spinach
big bunch of basil
salt and pepper, to taste

Ingredients to serve:

Pomegranate seeds
Chopped peanuts
Squeeze of lime
Coriander (cilantro) leaves
Edible flowers (optional)

Directions:

Heat a frying pan (skillet) over medium heat. Add the oil and gently fry the shallot and garlic until transparent. Then add the curry spice mix, carrot, aubergine and potato and fry for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the lentils followed by the coconut milk and simmer over low heat, covered, for 25 minutes.

Remove the lid, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt or more spice mix, add a dollop of peanut butter and stir in a handful of spinach and basil. I also love to scatter over pomegranate seeds and peanuts for extra crunch and give it a final squeeze of lime to cut through the creaminess of the curry, then throw over a few coriander leaves and edible flowers, to add some color.

Serve as it is or with some steamed rice, quinoa or buckwheat on the side.

GreenPan SimmerLite Nonstick Dutch Oven
GreenPan SimmerLite Nonstick Dutch Oven $99
Shop

Hearty Buckwheat Waffles with Strawberries

Hearty Buckwheat Waffles with Strawberries
Nassima Rothacker CREDIT: Happy Food: Fast, Fresh, Simple Vegan by Bettina Campolucci Bordi

"I love this breakfast, especially on a lazy weekend morning. It ticks all my boxes in terms of comfort, indulgence and appeasing that insatiable sweet tooth that we all have."

Serves two.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup melted coconut oil, plus 1 tablespoon for the waffle iron
1 1/2 cups almond milk, shop-bought or
home-made (see below)
1 1/3 cups buckwheat flour
3 tablespoons cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 vanilla pod (bean), scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon Ground vanilla pod
Pinch of salt

Ingredients to serve:

1 cup coconut yogurt, shop-bought or
home-made (see below)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 vanilla pod (bean), scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon Ground vanilla pod
Handful of fresh fruit
Micro herbs and edible flowers (optional)

Directions:

Start by heating the coconut oil in a pan on medium heat with the almond milk.

Place all the remaining waffle ingredients, including the melted coconut oil and almond milk, into a bowl and mix well.

Heat up the waffle iron and dab or brush with coconut oil. I use the small waffle iron where the waffles come out looking like a four-leaf clover. Ladle some of the batter mixture into the iron and cook until super crispy.

While the waffles are cooking, pimp up the coconut yogurt with lemon zest, maple syrup and the vanilla, stirring to combine.

Fortessa Tableware Solutions Palace Melamine Dinnerware
Fortessa Tableware Solutions Palace Melamine Dinnerware $28
Shop

Almond Milk

Almond Milk
Nassima Rothacker CREDIT: Happy Food: Fast, Fresh, Simple Vegan by Bettina Campolucci Bordi

"A classic milk and one that is so simple to make from scratch. Most of us find it more convenient to buy almond milk nowadays, but I promise, you will taste the difference when you try the home-made version."

Makes 34 fl. oz.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup raw almonds
4 cups water
Pinch of salt

Add-ins:

1/2 vanilla pod (bean), scraped, or pinch of ground Vanilla pod
Stoned (pitted) dates, for sweetness
Ground cinnamon
Ground cardamom
Ground turmeric
Ground cloves
Orange or lemon zest

Directions:

Start by soaking the almonds for at least 12 hours or overnight.

The water tends to get brown and mucky, so make sure you refresh it at least once.

Once soaked, drain the nuts and tip them into a blender. Discard the soaking water, add the fresh water and blend until you have a lovely frothy milk.

Line a sieve with a muslin cloth (cheesecloth), or use a nut milk bag or a fine strainer set over a bowl to separate the nut pulp from the milk. Pour in the milk and let it drain through.

Pour the milk back into the blender, add a pinch of salt and blend again.

Pour the finished milk into a clean glass bottle and store in the fridge ready to use.

It will last for up to 4 days.

Mosser Glass Hobnail Glass Pitcher
Mosser Glass Hobnail Glass Pitcher $54
Shop

Coconut Yogurt

"Coconut yogurt is something that we now can get in most supermarkets. While making it from scratch is a tad time-consuming, it is so worth it for the much-improved flavor."

Makes 1 lb. 2 oz.

Ingredients:

1 cup) cashews
1 cup coconut water
Meat of 1 young green coconut (buy ready to use or open a coconut and scrape it out yourself)
1/2 probiotic capsule

Directions:

Start by soaking the cashew nuts for 2 hours; just put them in a bowl and cover with water.

Open up the coconut with a coconut opener or with a cleaver at a 90-degree angle.

Be careful if you have not done this before.

Drain and reserve the water, then scrape out the coconut meat, cutting off any brown parts that come away from the bottom of the coconut.

Drain the cashews and tip them into a blender with the coconut meat, coconut water and probiotic, then blitz until you get a smooth texture.

If you are doing this in a high-speed blender, make sure you don’t overheat the mixture as this will kill off the probiotics.

Once blended, transfer to a glass or plastic container. Do not use a metal container as the mixture won’t ferment. Leave outside the fridge for 24 hours with a tea towel or muslin cloth (cheesecloth) on top so that the mixture can breathe.

After 24 hours your mixture will be slightly fizzy and bubbly, which means it has fermented.

Give it a good mix, put a top on the glass container and leave in the fridge for later use.

It will last for up to 7 days in the fridge.

Pimp your yogurt with lemon zest, vanilla, orange zest or sweetener of choice. I personally love a squeeze of maple syrup and a drop of vanilla extract.

Anthropologie Nirita Bowl
Anthropologie Nirita Bowl $13 $10
Shop

Peanut Butter Overnight Oats and Homemade Granola Crunch

Peanut Butter Overnight Oats and Homemade Granola Crunch
Nassima Rothacker CREDIT: Happy Food: Fast, Fresh, Simple Vegan by Bettina Campolucci Bordi

"I love a good porridge but in summertime when the weather gets a bit warmer, overnight oats are the perfect cool alternative."

Serves two.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 1/3 cup water
1 cup gluten-free milled oats
1 medjool date, stoned (pitted) and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/2 vanilla pod (bean), scraped, or 1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla pod

Ingredients for the Granola Crunch: (makes a batch for a 1 lb jar)
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cup gluten-free milled oats
1/4 cup) desiccated coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup whole buckwheat
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon grated orange zest

To serve

Fruits and berries chopped nuts and seeds edible owers (optional)

Directions

Mix the peanut butter with the water in a bowl. Then add the rest of the overnight oat ingredients, give it a mix and cover. Place in the fridge overnight.

Now make the granola crunch. Preheat the oven to 275ºF.

Line a large baking tray (baking sheet) with greaseproof paper (wax paper). Tip the crunch mixture onto the tray, spreading it out evenly, and bake for 40 minutes. Check it every 10 minutes to make sure it’s not getting burnt. Once the mixture is dry and crispy, it’s done.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the tray. Once cool, stir in the orange zest and sesame seeds. Transfer to a large glass jar with an airtight lid. Alternatively, store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer, which will keep it fresh and crispy for longer.

Serve the overnight oats with a handful of granola crunch and choose from any of the serving options.
I always tend to go slightly over the top with extra nut butter, berries, nuts, seeds and edible owers.

This breakfast can be made in a bigger batch and lasts for 3–4 days in the fridge. It’s a perfect takeaway breakfast or snack.

In a bowl, stir together the mashed banana, melted coconut oil, maple syrup and cinnamon. Make sure you have an even mixture without any lumps.

Bettina Campolucci Bordi Happy Food
Bettina Campolucci Bordi Happy Food $19
Shop

Related Stories