Healthy Eating

Stressed Out? Try These Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Ideas Made With Stress-Reducing Foods

Stress-busting recipes for all your favorite meals!

By: Lexy Parsons

Stressed out? We hear you. According to recent survey data, 55% of Americans are stressed during the day. And we’re not talking about the acute stress that you experience after a tough workout or challenging new activity (which can, in fact, benefit your health). The experienced stress we’re seeing is chronic — the kind that wreaks havoc on the body and negatively affects both physical and mental health. In fact, it’s so serious that more than 25% of adults report experiencing stress so severe they can’t function. And while chronic stress can affect different people in different ways, most adults (around 75%) report experiencing headaches, fatigue, increased feelings of anxiety or depression, and insomnia or disturbed sleep. 

The thing is, stress is a natural part of life. And unfortunately, we can’t avoid stress completely. But, there are ways we can manage and reduce stress, and one way to support the body, especially during increased times of stress, is with a healthy and balanced diet. And good news, we’ve put together a stress-busting meal plan full of foods and recipe ideas to do just that. Designed to help reduce stress and promote relaxation, this meal plan is full of nutrient-dense foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and are known to support the body’s stress response. 

Ahead, anti-stress recipes for all your favorite meals. From breakfast to lunch to dinner, here are stress-reducing foods and meal ideas that can help keep you happy, healthy, and possibly feeling a bit less stressed! 

RELATED: 7 Stress-Busting Foods: Expert Approved 

Breakfast: Recipe Ideas to Manage Morning Mental Health

Quick & Easy Supergreens Egg Bowl

Rich in the amino acid ​​tryptophan, a neurotransmitter that has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, eggs are a mighty fine option when it comes to managing morning mental health. They’re also rich in choline, an essential nutrient that contains neuroprotective and mood-regulating benefits. 

Combined with antioxidant-rich dark leafy greens, and omega-rich avocado and hemp seeds, this egg-a-licious Superfood Breakfast Bowl is the perfect stress-reducing meal!

Serves: 2


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 handful arugula
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 2 slices gluten-free bread, toasted
  • Sea salt & black pepper, to taste


Step #1: Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Add the chopped onion, chopped kale, and arugula and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

Step #2: Crack each egg into the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

Step #3: Add the sautéed kale and arugula to a serving plate and top with the cooked eggs and sliced avocado. Season with salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.

Step #4: Serve with a slice of gluten free toast.

Blueberry Protein Smoothie

As one of the best foods for brain health, blueberries are the star ingredient in this berry-loaded smoothie. Thanks to their rich antioxidant levels — especially anthocyanins flavonoids — blueberries have been shown to protect the brain from oxidative stress. 

Try blending up this simple blueberry smoothie that happens to be rich in protein for a nourishing on-the-go breakfast. 

Serves: 1


  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • ½ frozen banana 
  • 1 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt 
  • 1 tbsp. Ground flaxseeds
  • Drizzle of honey 
  • 1 handful spinach 


Step #1: Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. 

Step #2: Pour into a glass and enjoy! 

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Instant Mug Muffin

Rich in nutrients like magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins, oats are a healthy and tasty option when you’re looking to support nervous system function and promote feelings of calmness and relaxation. And, who doesn’t love oats in the form of chocolate chip banana bread muffins, made healthy?!

Plus, as a complex carb, oats are full of soluble fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and keep feelings of irritability and fatigue at bay! Not to mention, they help keep you feeling full and satisfied. This stress-busting banana bread is also naturally sweetened with banana and cinnamon, two natural sugar alternatives that fight stress by benefiting gut and brain health.

And the ultimate stress-relieving benefit of this dessert-like mug muffin? It comes together in two minutes! Perfect for busy mornings.


  • 1 egg white
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tsp pure maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup mashed ripe banana (spotty or brown is best!)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup gluten-free oats
  • ½ tbsp ground flax
  • 1-3 tbsp dairy-free chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened oat or almond milk
  • Cooking spray or oil, to coat


Step #1: Grease a large mug with oil or cooking spray. Then, in a medium-sized bowl, add the ripe banana and mash until a paste forms. Add the non-dairy milk, egg white, pure maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Mix well. 

Step #2: Stir in the oats and flaxseed. Mix until well combined. Then, add the chocolate chips and mix well. Add the mixture to the greased mug and place in the microwave.

Step #3: Cook on high for 2 minutes, watching to ensure it doesn’t bubble over. After two minutes, cook in 30-second increments until fully puffed up and baked.

Easy-Prep Protein Pancakes

Love pancakes? You’re in luck. Full of satiating protein and fiber — thanks to ingredients like flax, egg whites, and Greek yogurt — this healthy pancake breakfast can help lower morning stress and even benefit your brain. How so? Well, there’s a strong connection between protein and mental health. Research suggests that a protein-rich diet has to contain all essential amino acids, and that if there is a lack of the amino acids tyrosine or tryptophan, it could result in low mood and irritability. This is because many of the neurotransmitters in the brain are made from amino acids, so we have to make sure we fuel our bodies with high-quality protein-rich foods that contain these essential amino acids. 

This protein-rich pancake recipe is a great way to kickstart your day, and it happens to be naturally sweetened! 


  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 tbsp oat milk
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Greek yogurt, to serve
  • Strawberry, sliced, to serve
  • Pure maple syrup, to drizzle


Step #1: Start by adding all the ingredients minus the coconut oil and toppings to a mixing bowl and whisk well.

Step #2: Next, heat a skillet over medium heat with the coconut oil and pour about one tablespoon of the pancake batter onto the pan at a time. Cook on one side until little bubbles appear, and then flip and cook until golden brown.

Step #3: Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt, fresh berries, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Serve and enjoy!

Lunch: Mid-Day Meals to Ease Your Mind

Plant Power Lunch Bowl

Full of gut-healthy probiotics and nutrient-rich foods like kale, sweet potato, eggs, avocado, and hemp seeds, this nutritious lunch bowl is brimming with stress support! A balanced meal that’s great for your brain and body.


  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1 cup sweet potato, cubed
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 2 tbsp sauerkraut
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
  • Lemon juice, fresh squeezed


Step #1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the cubed sweet potato and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 35-40 minutes or until tender, tossing halfway through.

Step #2: While the sweet potatoes are cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and boil the eggs for 5-6 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Remove the eggs from the boiling water and allow to cool. Peel and then set aside.

Step #3: Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the kale and saute until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and divide between two bowls.

Step #4: Divide the cooked sweet potato cubes, avocado, and sauerkraut between the two bowls. Cut the eggs in half and add one to each bowl.

Step #5: Serve with freshly squeezed lemon juice and sprinkle with hemp seeds.

Spinach & Salmon Salad

Packed with nutrients that can help reduce stress, such as magnesium and folate, spinach is the perfect stress-busting salad base. Top it off with omega-rich salmon and avocado for added protein and healthy fats — a simple salad that screams brain food! Customize it with fresh herbs, a sprinkle of walnuts or pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of lemon juice and cold-pressed olive or avocado oil. 

RELATED: Delicious Protein-Packed Salads That Will Actually Fill You Up

Quinoa & Roasted Veggie Lemon Tahini Buddha Bowl

Quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, two nutrients that can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce stress. When paired with roasted sweet potato and leafy greens like kale, both of which are high in antioxidants and minerals known to reduce stress, you’ll get the ultimate boost of flavor and nutrients!

For a simple stress-busting lunch, try assembling your own Buddha bowl. Start with a quinoa base, layer it with your favorite dark leafy greens like kale and chard, add a serving of sweet potato (or a similar fiber-rich complex carb), and top it off with your favorite add-ins like avocado, black beans, pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of lemon tahini.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or veggie broth
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 bunch of kale, stemmed and chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Sea salt & black pepper, to taste 
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Lemon Tahini Dressing:

  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 3-4 tbsp tahini
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup filtered water
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika (optional)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

To serve (optional):

  • Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Avocado, sliced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  •  ¼ cup red onion, finely chopped


Step #1: First, prep your quinoa. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under cold water. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed.

Step #2: While the quinoa is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and cube your sweet potatoes, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and spices of choice (such as paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper). Roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender and golden brown.

Step #3: Meanwhile, prep your lemon tahini dressing by combining all ingredients into a bowl and whisking until well combined. Set aside.

Step #4: When sweet potatoes are nearly roasted (about 5 minutes of cook time remaining), remove from oven and add chopped kale (or leafy green of choice) to the dish. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes until roasted.

Step #5: Finally, assemble your bowl. Add a serving of quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, and roasted kale. Add any other add-ins, such as fresh red onion and black beans. Toss with a drizzle of lemon tahini dressing, and finish with toppings of choice, such as avocado and fresh cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

Dinner Dishes to Improve Your Mood 

Warm Artichoke & Tuscan Bean Salad 

Artichokes — the star ingredient of this plate — are rich in fiber and prebiotics, which are important for gut health, and, thus mood and stress support. Plus, this simple savory dish can be prepared in 20 minutes or less — a perfect way to alleviate stress after a long day!

Serves: 4


  • 1 can Tuscan white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and loosely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To serve (optional):

  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Avocado
  • Freshly chopped herbs


Step #1: In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the red onion and garlic in olive oil until soft and fragrant. Then, add the chopped artichoke hearts to the skillet and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Step #2: Once cooked, add Tuscan white beans to the skillet and stir well to combine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until warm and cooked through. Turn off the heat and add chopped parsley, basil, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, then stir until well combined.

Step #3: Add any additional add-ins, such as sundried tomatoes, grated cheese, or red pepper flakes. Bring heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Step #4: Once liquid is absorbed, add the spinach. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until wilted. Taste test, adjusting any ingredients as needed. Serve warm with optional toppings such as avocado, fresh herbs, or additional red pepper flakes. Enjoy!

Lemon Tahini Lentil Stuffed Sweet Potatoes 

Sweet potatoes are a good source of complex carbs, potassium, and magnesium, which are all important nutrients to fuel a balanced diet with. Try stuffing them full of plant-based protein, nourishing veggies, and fresh flavor like these stress-lowering Lentil and Lemon Tahini Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, which are full of good-mood food.


  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 2 avocados
  • Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup lentils, cooked
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds 
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes

Lemon Tahini Dressing

  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp tahini


Step #1: Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Then, place the sweet potatoes evenly on the tray. Using a fork, poke holes in each sweet potato. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft and cooked through.

Step #2: Meanwhile, prep avocados for the sweet potato filling. Slice avocados lengthwise and remove the pit. Scoop out the avocado flesh, and add to a separate bowl. Mash well, then season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Step #3: Next, make the dressing by adding the lemon juice, tahini, water, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper to a mixing bowl and whisk. Set aside.

Step #4: Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, remove them from the oven and allow them to slightly cool before cutting them in half. Scrape half of the sweet potato flesh out, leaving room to add the cooked lentils and mashed avocado. Fill each sweet potato with lentils. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Step #5: While the sweet potatoes are cooking for the additional 10 minutes, evenly spread the pumpkin seeds on another lined baking tray and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until toasted and slightly golden.

Step #6: Remove sweet potato and top with avocado, pumpkin seeds, chopped parsley, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with the tahini dressing, and enjoy!

Simple Salmon & Asparagus Dinner 

Why complicate things when you could fight stress with a simple dinner? Salmon is high in omega-3s, which can help reduce inflammation and promote brain health. Paired with asparagus, which is high in antioxidants, this easy-prep dinner dish is a stress-fighting savior! 

Snacks & Treats: Munch Away Your Stress

There’s a big difference between stress eating and snacking on stress-reducing foods. One typically involves snacking on not-so-healthy comfort snacks (like high-sugar foods), while the other involves munching on nourishing foods full of stress-busting properties. Lucky for you, we’re sharing recipes that support the latter!

Yogurt Snack Bowl

Did you know that the probiotics found in yogurt may not only be good for your gut health but also your mental health? Recent research has suggested that the bacteria in your gut can play a significant role in regulating mood and behavior.

To help support a healthy gut microbiome, consider snacking on gut-supporting foods like yogurt. Try making a yogurt parfait with layers of Greek or dairy-free yogurt, berries, and granola or trail mix. You could even combine yogurt with savory ingredients like cucumber, olive oil, garlic, and fresh mint for a healthy homemade Tzatziki dip! 

Vanilla Matcha Coconut Smoothie

What if you could enjoy the stress-busting benefits of matcha in the form of a healthy snack that tastes like dessert? Well, you can! Rich in L-theanine and catechins, matcha has been shown to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and even improve focus and concentration

Plus, this vanilla coconut matcha smoothie is loaded with ingredients (like spinach, coconut, and banana), which have been shown to regulate mood, reduce cortisol, and boost energy. Thanks to nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, and folate, sipping on this smoothie is the perfect stress-reducing snack when you need a jitter-free pick-me-up.


  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • ½ cup canned coconut milk, chilled
  • 1 cup coconut water (or non-dairy milk of choice, such as almond or cashew milk)
  • 1-2 tsp matcha powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sweetener to taste (2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ cup of ice
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional)


Step #1: Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until creamy.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Chocolate is good for the soul — and for stress! Yep, this delicious, dairy-free chocolate avocado pudding is another healthy sweet treat filled with foods to boost your mood. Pure cocoa powder is full of flavonols that boost blood flow to the brain and benefit mood. Plus, avocados contain stress-busting B vitamins and brain-nourishing omegas.

Serves: 2-4


  • 1 whole ripe avocado, pitted & peel removed 
  • 1 cup of coconut milk 
  • 2 tsp. Manuka honey
  • 2-3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder, (optional) 
  • ½ tbsp vanilla extract, (optional) 


Step #1: Add all ingredients to a blender, adding in any optional ingredients such as cocoa or vanilla extract. 

Step #2: Blend until smooth. Taste test and adjust ingredients as needed. Enjoy!

Add These Stress-Reducing Foods To Your Daily Diet

As we know, stress can take a major toll on our bodies, and making healthy dietary choices can play a crucial role in mitigating the effects of stress. As best you can, steer clear of unhealthy dietary choices, such as consuming high amounts of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods. These foods can exacerbate stress by causing blood sugar spikes and mood swings. On the other hand, by simply incorporating stress-reducing foods into your daily diet — like antioxidants and omega-rich foods — you can help manage stress and improve your overall health and well-being. 

And don’t forget to prioritize things like sleep and self-care! While diet is crucial, your overall lifestyle matters too.