Planning Ahead to Stop Stress in Its Tracks

Brooke Thomas, a healthy living expert and Entrepreneur in Residence, shares advice—and healthy, comforting recipes—for managing your mood.

From Brooke:
It was a moment I wanted to freeze in time. I was standing before thousands of people talking about how the worst moment in my life led me to my best self. There I was, on a giant stage, explaining how my cancer diagnosis actually started me down the path to true health. Just years earlier, the thought of getting up to speak in front of even a few people would have left me in a bundle of tears, worried about what people would think of me. Preparing for that moment required serious reflection and a lot of time. I have spent years empowering employees at companies across the country to live a healthier lifestyle, but this was the biggest speech of my life up to this point. I wanted my words to inspire and my message to be clear. It was the culmination of all the years I had spent learning to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I couldn’t have been more excited. This time, I stood confident.

There are moments in life when fear tries to take over. Fortunately, I had battled my fear of public speaking before so that when the time came, all I had to do was take a deep breath and feel gratitude for the moment. I was able to enjoy a moment that once would have been clouded in fear and stress. Stress is a part of life. Sometimes, it comes from outside sources, but often it comes from the pressure we put on ourselves. We can’t avoid stress, but we can prepare for it so that, when your moment comes, you can manage it in a healthy way. In fact, stress isn’t totally without purpose. It can actually strengthen you if you let it. These are four simple practices changed the way I handle stress, and they’ve made all the difference. I hope they help you, too!

1. Keep a daily journal

Journaling is a great way to work through issues before they become problems. When you track your thoughts, it helps you see the red flags ahead and adjust accordingly. Adding an element of gratitude to the end of every entry also helps combat stress by focusing your attention on something positive in your life.

2. Read something inspirational every morning

Our mind is a powerful tool in the fight against stress. What we think matters and impacts our reality. When we are stressed out, we often fill our heads with negative talk and words like “can’t,” “never” and “won’t.” I read something inspirational every morning to give me something else to think about and set the tone for the day.

3. Work out

Sweat is great therapy. Get those endorphins flowing with your favorite workout. A good workout will help you sleep better and you’ll have more energy to give to whatever life throws your way. For me, it’s Burn Boot Camp. It is a crazy effective workout but, almost as important to me, it’s a community that always encourages and pushes me to exceed no matter what I am struggling with at any given moment. Surround yourself with positive people!

4. Re-think your idea of comfort food

There seems to be this idea that feeling stressed is permission to binge on something fast, fried or fake. Don’t buy into that! Food has a real connection to our mood. Eating badly will only cause more mood swings and create additional stress on both your body and mind. Next time you feel like stuffing yourself with pizza and ice cream, choose a swap that satisfies you just the same but won’t leave you feeling worse in the end. The next time stress hits, try one of my favorite, indulgent-tasting (but healthier) recipes. Planning Ahead to Stop Stress in Its Tracks

Spinach Mac and Cheese

By Brooke Thomas from 360YourLife.com
 
Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. (1 box) Ancient Harvest Quinoa Elbow Pasta
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 cups shredded organic cheddar cheese (we used white cheddar)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, blend spinach and milk in a blender or food processor. (This will give it a green color. You can also leave spinach whole if you want.)
3. Drain pasta, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to pot on stovetop and remove from heat. Add milk mixture to pasta and turn on low heat. Add salt, pepper, butter and cheese.
4. Continue stirring often for 10 minutes until well blended. Transfer mixture to a greased 13-x-9 baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.

 

DOWNLOAD RECIPE CARD HERE


Planning Ahead to Stop Stress in Its Tracks

Cauliflower Pizza

By Brooke Thomas from The Thankful 30


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup organic mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tbsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • Desired toppings

Directions:
1. 
Preheat oven to 450°.
2. Remove the stem and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Place the cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until it’s fully grated.
3. In a bowl, combine cauliflower, egg, cheese and seasonings. Mix together until fully combined.
4. Lightly grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil and spread cauliflower mixture in a circle.
5. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown without burning. Let crust cool for 10 minutes. Add toppings and bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is fully melted.
For our pizza, we used organic pizza sauce and 2 handfuls baby spinach, then topped it with 2 cups mozzarella and sprinkled it with goat cheese!

 

DOWNLOAD RECIPE CARD HERE


Planning Ahead to Stop Stress in Its Tracks

Happy Tummy Lasagna

By Brooke Thomas from The Thankful 30

Ingredients:

  • 6 zucchinis, thinly sliced the long way with a mandolin slicer
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 lbs. grass-fed beef
  • 2 cups diced roma tomatoes
  • 1 6-oz. can organic tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tbsp. black pepper
  • Cheese of choice (optional)

Directions:
1. Prep a 9-x-11 glass baking dish and preheat oven to 350°. In a large pot, sauté onions and garlic in EVOO for 3 minutes.
2. Add ground beef and brown. Add diced roma tomatoes, tomato paste and dry ingredients, and mix well.
3. Start layering your glass dish with your first zucchini layer. You can overlap the zucchini slices. Add some of the meat over the zucchini layer. Continue to layer meat and zucchini slices ending with the meat as the top and final layer. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and add your cheese of choice (optional). I prefer goat cheese to top it off. Let the lasagna stand for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

 

DOWNLOAD RECIPE CARD HERE


Planning Ahead to Stop Stress in Its Tracks

Three-Ingredient Fudge

By Brooke Thomas from The Thankful 30

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup cacao powder
  • Coconut (optional)

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir or in a high-speed blender until well combined. Pour into glass dish or mini cupcake wrappers and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
2. If you want to use it as a dip, simply pour into a bowl and enjoy! If making chocolate covered fruit, dip the fruit and place in the freezer for 30 minutes until chocolate hardens. Sprinkle with coconut (optional) before freezing.

 

DOWNLOAD RECIPE CARD HERE


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