The benefits of good sleep are second to none when it comes to your health and fitness. Sleep is essential for proper functioning of your immune, nervous, skeletal, hormonal, and muscular systems, plus it regulates metabolism and greatly affects how we think and our recovery from both exercise and the stresses of daily life.
It’s why we’ve decided that given it’s Sleep Awareness Month, we’re dedicating this month’s recipes to those foods that can support good sleep. When it comes to foods, there are a number that can help, mainly those containing an amino acid called tryptophan.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein – the body takes them and puts them to work doing other things. In the case of tryptophan, one of the things it helps with is the production of melatonin and serotonin, the two hormones that regulate circadian rhythm, in other words our sleep patterns.
James has added two lifestyle articles to the site that can help with sleep: one is on sleep-inducing foods, the other is how to detox your sleep environment.
From a recipe point of view, our dish of the month is our tuna tartare tian with a veggie option using cottage cheese (pictured above). Both tuna and cottage cheese are high in tryptophan and it’s a beautifully light dish that’s perfect before bed.
Why do you fall asleep at Christmas or Thanksgiving? One of the reasons is likely to be you’ve overindulged a little, the other is that you’ve been tucking into the turkey. Turkey is one of the foods with the highest levels of tryptophan and so here we’ve come up with a simple soup that is super-quick to make and inspired not a little by the kind of soup you get at a Chinese restaurant. Ready in minutes, a bowl of this should get you to sleep in seconds.
Cookies and milk is the classic bedtime snack – little wonder given that milk is high in tryptophan, that sleep-inducing precursor to melatonin and serotonin. Here, Jason has taken the concept of the cookies element and made a recipe that is entirely from nuts (and hence also packed with tryptophan). These use only the best ingredients and are gluten and dairy free, as well as being vegan. As you may have guessed by now, we are not fans of refined sugar and so the cookies’ sweetness comes from some lovely organic coconut sugar that adds a real depth of flavour to these treats, as well as reducing the processed nasties.
Kiwi is one of the fruits highest in tryptophan while also containing high levels of vitamin C and a tonne of good enzymes. We could, of course, have just told you to eat more kiwis, but Jason has Elevated this dish to new levels by doing a fruity version of a classic carpaccio, with a passion fruit sauce and shaved coconut for extra good fats.
There’s also a skills video with this one: How to peel kiwi fruit the chef’s way.
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