Coping with Seasonal Stress

The holiday season can be filled with a dizzying array of demands, visitors, travel and frantic shopping trips. For many people, it is also a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness and anxiety. Compound the usual seasonal pressures with economic strain and you many find this to be one of the most emotionally trying times of the year.

Boost your overall ability to handle seasonal stress by replenishing the nutrients that stress hormones deplete by including the following foods in your meals:

Blackberries – Blackberries are jam packed with vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. Vitamin C has shown to be a powerful stress reducer that can lower blood pressure and return cortisol levels to normal faster when taken during periods of stress.

Cruciferous Vegetables – Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and kale are full of stress-relieving B vitamins. Cauliflower is also one of the very best sources of vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid helps turn carbohydrates and fats into usable energy and improves your ability to respond to stress by supporting your adrenal glands.

Salmon – Salmon is a healthy and delicious way to get your dose of B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Among the many benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, a 2003 study published in Diabetes & Metabolism found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduced the stress response and kept the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine in check.


© Donna Sigmond, EastWest Wellness

Friendly Fish: How dangerous is mercury in fish?

photo credit: avlxyz via photopin cc

Excessive amount of mercury have entered our waters from medical and municipal wastes, power plants, and landfills containing fluorescent light bulbs and thermometers. Once it enters the air and soil, it travels to water ways, contaminating fish. Aside from pollution, fish from specific geographical locations can be contaminated. For example, there are natural ore deposits in the Mediterranean sea that are responsible for mercury contamination in fish from that region.

Mercury toxicity can cause birth defects, damage to the nervous system, premature aging, vision loss, and the onset of disease. Pregnant or lactating women and young children in particular must take extra precautions to avoid mercury-contaminated fish. Please refer to our Introduction to our Friendly Fish Series! article for information on what fish are the safest to consume.

Heavy metals such as mercury can impair growth and development or cause birth defects, causing physical and mental impairment, incomplete maturation, inadequate brain function, weak legs and bones, impotence and other reproductive issues, and early senility. Anyone who has a family history of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s should limit their fish intake to only those in the low mercury range as a health precaution.

photo credit: Instant Vantage via photopin cc

Everyone has some level of mercury in their body. Infants, too, are passed trace amount of heavy metals from their mothers. The human body can tolerate this natural, low level. It is when mercury levels get too high that they begin to have an unhealthy impact on the body. The best way to limit intake of heavy metals is to regulate your fish consumption, where most mercury exposure comes from. 39% of mercury exposure in the U.S. is due to light Skipjack tuna. Though Skipjack contains 1/3 the amount of mercury as Albacore, Americans consume greater amounts of Skipjack because it is lower in cost.

A word on sushi: The types of fish and other seafood used in sushi often contain higher mercury levels. Eating sushi containing these fish is not recommended, especially because many sushi eaters have it regularly. On a side note, raw fish contains bacteria, making infection a possiblity.

Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. George Mateljan Foundation: Seattle, 2007. Print.
Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition. North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, 1993. Print.

Friendly Fish: Sea Bass

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, the authority is seafood health and sustainability, has recently given the green light on this previously controversial fish. Over the past several years, there have been warnings against purchasing sea bass due to illegal overfishing. With consumers refusing to purchase them, the sea bass population has been given a break to re-establish their numbers, and today, you can find sea bass with a “sustainable” label in stores like Sprouts.

There is a variety of sea bass on the market today. It is an umbrella term that refers to several different species. These include Black, Bluenose, Chilean, European, Striped, and White sea bass. The numerous names for each species can become daunting!

To help sort out the confusion, we’ve created a chart based on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch’s guidelines. As a rule-of-thumb, any sea bass labeled “Hook-and-Line”  will likely be the most sustainable option.

How to Choose Sea Bass





Hyperoglyphe antarctica


Antaractic Butterfish, Blue Bream, Blue-eye Trevalla, Bluenose Sea Bass (Southern Pacific — Wildcaught)


Black Sea Bass
Centropristis striata
(true sea bass)


Atlantic Sea Bass, Black Perch, Rock Bass (U.S. Mid-Atlantic — Wild Caught)


Chilean Seabass
Dissostichus eleginoides

Black Hake, Icefish, Patagonian Toothfish (Heard and McDonald Islands, Falkland Islands, Macquarie Island — Longline)

Black Hake, Icefish, Patagonian Toothfish (South Georgia, Kerguelen Islands Island — Longline); Antarctic Toothfish, Black Hake, Icefish, Patagonian Toothfish (Ross Sea Island — Longline)

Black Hake, Icefish, Patagonian Toothfish (Crozet Islands, Prince Edward and Marion Islands, Chile— Longline)

European Sea Bass
Dicentrarchus labrax

European seabass, Mediterranean seabass, Branzino, Branzini, Loup de mer (Nova Scotia, Canada — Farmed in Tank Systems)



Striped Bass
Morone saxatilis
(true sea bass)

Greenhead, Linesides, Rockfish, Striper, Suzuki (U.S. Atlantic — Hook-and-line); Hybrid Striped Bass, Suzuki (U.S. Farmed)

Greenhead, Linesides, Rockfish,  Striper, Suzuki (U.S. Atlantic — Fillnet, Pound Net)


White Seabass
Morone chrysops

King Croaker, Weakfish, Seatrout (California — Hook-and-line)

King Croaker, Weakfish, Seatrout (California — Gillnet)


Note: This chart includes common sea bass on the U.S. market. It does not include fresh-water bass, Grouper, and Rockfish. It also does not include Australian sea bass, which are not on the U.S. market.

That being said, the issue now is which sea bass to buy! We suggest finding a sea bass recipe that appeals to you. Try whichever variety the recipe calls for, and take your time exploring the variety of sea basses.

As far as mercury warnings, all sea bass contains some level of mercury, with none falling into the “safe” category. True bass (striped and black) contain moderate mercury levels, while Chilean Seabass contains high levels of mercury. Limit your intake to three servings or less each month. Pregnant women and children should avoid all sea bass.

Bronzed Sea Bass with Lemon Shallot Butter

Prep Time: Cook Time: Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 1


  • 6 ounces, weight (to 7 Ounces) Piece Of Sea Bass, With Or Without The Skin On
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium-sized Shallot, Minced
  • 1 whole Lemon, Zested And Juiced
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • Kosher Salt And Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 375°. Season both sides of the fish generously with salt and pepper.

Heat canola oil in a medium-sized oven-safe pan over high heat for a few minutes to let the oil get nice and hot.
Once the oil has heated up for a couple of minutes, drop the sea bass into place and let it sit there untouched for two minutes. (Don’t overcrowd the pan, as this will kill our ability to create a tasty crust on the fish.) Sear over high heat for 2 minutes, then transfer the pan into the 375-degree oven WITHOUT FLIPPING THE FISH OVER. Set the timer to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, begin making the lemon shallot butter sauce. Melting the butter over a medium-high heat. Add in the minced shallot and lemon zest. Cook over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes.

When the shallots have become a little softer, squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon. Whisk together and reduce the heat to medium until you’ve got an incredible-smelling sauce. (Skipping the shallots in this process will make a super-simple lemon butter sauce.)

Once the fish has been in the oven for 8 minutes, remove it and let it rest for a moment before serving. Take this time to remove the pin bones if your butcher didn’t do it for you.

This exact method will work well with halibut, salmon, or any other thick fish. Great results every time.

Other Articles in the Friendly Fish series:

Barratt, Alison. “Chilean Seabass Goes From ‘Take a Pass’ to ‘Take a Bite’?” News Watch: Ocean Views. National Geographic.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.
“Bronzed Sea Bass with Lemon Shallot Butter.” The Pioneer Women.


Friendly Fish: Salmon

photo credit: torbakhopper via photopin cc

Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA. They are a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Salmon is packed with antioxidants!

There are many variations of salmon, both wild-caught and farm-raised. In general, farm-raised salmon is not recommend. The conditions under which salmon are raised often result in a fish that contain less nutrients than their wild counterparts. There is also controversy over fish farms raising salmon is poor conditions with excess bodily waste in overcrowded pens, making the salmon susceptible to disease. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch urge consumers to avoid all farm-raised salmon. However, Colorado has the cleanest salmon farm-raised salmon in the country.

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is the most sustainable. These include Coho, Sockeye, and King salmon.  If possible, choose only Alaskan. Canned salmon is safe to eat unless it is labeled as Atlantic or Norwegian salmon, which are actually farm-raised.

Much salmon on the market today contains dye. Food coloring can often trigger allergies or pose other dangers, especially to pregnant women. Often, companies that dye salmon will also add preservatives and other chemicals to food.

Keep a lookout for news on the genetic modification of salmon! The FDA hasn’t yet approved it, but GMO salmon can be approved for market soon. We suggest doing research and signing petitions against this, if you haven’t already. Read more about “Frankenfish” here.

Energetics: Promotes brain health, reduces inflammation, promotes heart health, provides long-lasting energy, reduces hypertension, improves blood flow, prevents against erratic heart rhythm, lowers triglyceride levels, promotes sound sleep, and lowers risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Quick Broiled Salmon with Ginger Mint Salsa

This is a great way to prepare salmon that seals in its wonderful juices, brings out its best flavor and retains its moisture. It is not necessary to turn the salmon over as it cooks on both sides simultaneously.  If salmon is purchases frozen, be sure to defrost first. If you don’t have time to make salsa, you can use a pre-made one. Add ginger and/or mint for an extra kick! For meal nutrition facts, click here.

Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves 2


  • 1/3 lb salmon fillet, cut in half
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • sea salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onions, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh mint, minced
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. To Quick-Broil, preheat broiler and place an all stainless steel skillet (be sure the handle is also stainless steel) or cast iron pan under the heat for about 10 minutes to get it very hot. The pan should be 5 to 7 inches from the heat source.
  2. Rub salmon with 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper. (You can Quick Broil with the skin on; it just takes a minute or two longer. The skin will peel right off after cooking.)
  3. Using a hot pad, pull pan away from heat and place salmon on hot pan, skin side down. Return to broiler. Keep in mind that it is cooking rapidly on both sides so it will be done very quickly, usually in 7 minutes depending on thickness. Test with a fork for doneness. It will flake easily when it is cooked. Salmon is best when it is still pink inside.


  1. Combine all salsa ingredients.
  2. Spoon over salmon.
  3. Garnish with mint and a sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil.


Mateljan, George. “Salmon.” The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. George Mateljan Foundation: Seattle, 2007. 476-483. Print.
“Quick Broiled Salmon with Ginger Mint Salsa.” The World’s Healthiest Foods. The George Mateljan Foundation. Web.

Friendly Fish: Is canned tuna healthy?

Most people envision grocery aisles lined with StarKist and Chicken of the Sea when they think of canned fish. Canned tuna has become a special part of the standard American diet due to its accessibility and nutritional value. With growing concerns over mercury in fish, many are beginning to ask, is canned fish safe to eat? Today, we will be demystifying much of the confusion.

There are several special considerations when buying canned tuna. There are two common varieties of canned tuna: white (albacore) and light (skipjack). They are easy to confuse! Albacore are larger tuna fish. They contain approximately three times as much mercury than light tuna. Therefore, we highly recommend staying away from albacore entirely. When choosing specific brands of light tuna, search for ones labeled premium or “gourmet.” Choose Pacific tuna when possible. Avoid conventional brands that mass-produce canned tuna because they have less nutritional value. Higher quality tuna generally comes from small or family-owned fisheries where there are often stricter and more sustainable practices for canning. Buy local where possible.

photo credit: SodanieChea via photopin cc

One last consideration is whether to choose fish canned in oil or fish canned in water. The verdict: choose water every time! Besides the additional fat content (or potential GMO or pesticide-contaminated oil), there is actually a very practical reason as to why you should choose tuna canned in water. Tuna is a fish high in omega-3s. When tuna is canned in oil, it leeches its omega-3 benefits, leaving a less nutrient-rich product. On the contrary, omega-3 fatty acids are not water soluble, therefore, the omega-3s remain in the tuna.

These guidelines apply to jarred tuna, as well.

Brands we recommend are Wild Planet, Safeway, GoldSeal, Selection, and Ocean’s due to their sustainability practices

Also consider buying canned salmon. We will be revisiting salmon soon in our Friendly Fish series!

Make a delicious and healthy tuna salad sandwich! Use whole grain or gluten-free bread (depending on your nutritional needs). Substitute the traditional mayo for some vegenaise, a healthier, egg-free alternative. You may choose to add lettuce or tomato to your sandwich, or mix in some relish. We’ve heard of one recipe that mixes salsa into the tuna salad!

“2013 Canned Tuna Sustainability Ranking,” Greenpeace.
“What are the best fish to buy?” The World’s Healthiest Foods.
” Does canned fish (salmon or tuna) have any sort of nutritional benefit when compared to fresh fish?,” The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Friendly Fish: Cod

Cod belong to the same family as haddock and pollock. They need cold, deep arctic waters to thrive. Cod has been enjoyed as a good as far back as human history goes. It has been eaten raw, cooked, salted, smoked, and dried. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the most important fish for sustaining the European population.

Cape Cod is named after this delicious fish. However, the Atlantic cod population has been immensely overfished. Pacific cod, on the other hand, is described by the National Marine Fisheries Service as “one of the best managed fisheries in the world.”

Cod is an excellent source of tryptophan, selenium, protein, vitamin B6, phosphorus, vitamin B12, potassium, vitamin B3, and omega-3 fats.

Energetics: Lowers risk of heart disease and heart attack; promotes cardiovascular health; increases heart rate variability (HRV); protects against fatal heart arrhythmia; lowers triglycerides; helps to prevent and control high blood pressure; protects against deep vein thrombosis; protects against many forms of cancer; protects against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline; improves mood; reduces depression; reduces risk of macular degeneration; reduces asthma, arthritis, and migraine; protects against childhood asthma; and protects against sunburn.


Please note that cod contains purines, so those with gout, kidney stones, and other kidney problems should avoid cod.

We recommend to all avoiding fried cod entirely. When cod is fried, it does not provide the same protection against disease. In addition, breading and frying fish causes the good fats damage, releasing free radicals that are carcinogenic and detrimental to the body. Instead, bake, broil, poach, or sear cod to gain its health benefits.

Lemon Fish with Puree of Sweet Peas

The combination of lemon flavored fish with the sweet peas in this recipe is a great way to enjoy a Healthiest Way of Eating meal in just 25 minutes. The peas are a not only a great alternative to rice but add extra health-promoting nutrients and flavor as well. Enjoy!

Prep and Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves 4


  • 1-1/2lb cod filets (thick cut)
  • 3 TBS finely minced lemon rind
  • 4 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pinch cayenne
  • Pureed Peas
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 TBS + 3 TBS chicken or vegetable broth
  • 15 oz frozen sweet peas
  • 4 TBS sunflower seeds
  • salt and white pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Chop garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to enhance its health-promoting qualities.
  3. Mix together minced lemon rind, lemon juice, chopped parsley, salt, and cayenne.
  4. Rub cod filets generously with mixture and place in baking dish. Place fish in oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes.
  5. While fish is baking, heat 1 TBS broth in a 10 inch stainless steel skillet. Healthy Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute. Add 3 TBS broth, peas, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper, and heat for about 3 minutes.
  6. Purée pea mixture in blender, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula from time to time to mix well.
  7. Serve cod with peas. If there is a little juice in the pan, you can drizzle it over the fish and peas.

“Cod,” The World’s Healthiest Foods.
“Cod,” Seafood Health Facts.
” Lemon Fish with Puree of Sweet Peas,” The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Friendly Fish: Tilapia

One serving of tilapia cooked with dry heat.

Tilapia is the second most cultivated fish in the world. It is the fifth most popular seafood in the U.S. The word “Tilapia” actually refers to nearly 100 different species of fish. However, the most common of these are red and black tilapia. It is an excellent component of a healthy diet: filets are are low in fat, low calorie, low carbohydrate, and high in protein. Tilapia is also a good source of phosphorus, niacin (vitamin B-3), selenium, vitamin B-12, and potassium. According to the FDA, tilapia contains the least mercury when compared to other fish.

A healthy, quick way to cook fish is by stovetop searing. It’s simple! Rub fish with a fresh lemon juice and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place the fish in a hot pan that has been heating on high for 2-3 minutes. The heat will lock in the flavor, and it should only take a couple minutes on each side, depending on how large the filet is.



Tilapia With Caper-Parsley Sauce

Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 10m
Total Time: 45m


  • 1 1/2  pounds  fingerling or new potatoes, halved
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil, plus more if needed
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4  6-ounce tilapia fillets, split lengthwise
  • 4 1/2  tablespoons  cold unsalted butter
  • 1  cup  dry white wine
  • 2  tablespoons  capers
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Heat oven to 450° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes with the oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Roast, tossing once, until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, season the tilapia with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tilapia in batches until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side, adding more oil to the pan if necessary. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
  3. Add the wine to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, plus the capers and parsley. Serve with the tilapia and potatoes.

“About Tilapia,” Fresh Tilapia Facts.
“Fish, tilapia, cooked, dry heat,”
“How to Cook Healthy and Enhance the Flavor of Fish,” The World’s Healthiest Foods.
“Tilapia Nutrition Information,” Livestrong.
“Tilapia With Caper-Parsley Sauce,” Real Simple.

Introducing Our Friendly Fish Series

photo credit: ralph and jenny via photopin cc

That’s right! We are beginning a brand new series on fish. Not just fish, but fish that are friendly to our bodies. With an industrialized fish farming industry, mercury and radiation contamination in the ocean, and unsustainable wild fishing practices, the Wellitude team would like to educate our readers in what kinds of fish are the safest to eat, how to shop for them, and just how nutritious friendly fish can be when chosen properly.

People with certain health conditions, i.e., pregnant or nursing women and young children, must avoid particular varieties of fish. In fact, we strongly recommend that everyone avoid these fish. Mercury is not good for anyone. Apologies to all sushi-lovers out there! We strongly recommend that you do NOT eat raw fish, as it is high in heavy metals. Instead, opt for California or veggie rolls.

Toxicity levels vary by where the fish was caught. For example, wild Alaskan salmon is safe to eat, while Atlantic salmon is high is toxins. There are three culprits of fish contamination: heavy metals, POPs (persistant organic pollutants), and radiation. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are neurotoxic hormone-disrupting chemicals (banned in the U.S. since 1977), were found at levels seven times higher in farmed salmon than in wild ones, according to a study published in Science in January 2004.

In addition, many Pacific fish are still contaminated with radiation after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011. This past week, BBC published an article about the Fukushima nuclear plant again, stating that radiation-contaminated fluid has “leaked” into the ground from multiple, though it is unknown as to whether is has or will reach the sea.

Friendly Fish Unfriendly Fish
Tilapia Tilefish (golden bass or golden snapper)
Alaskan and California salmon Farmed salmon
Pollock Atlantic halibut
Cod King mackerel
Farmed catfish Sea bass
Herring Shark
Pacific flounder or sole Swordfish
Canned tuna (light) Tuna (all varieties except light/skipjack; do not confuse “light” with “white,” which is Albacore)


Cod photo credit: SodexoUSA via photopin cc

Other fish with low- to mid-range mercury levels: Alaskan halibut, black cod, mahi-mahi. Overfished and destructive to the environment: Atlantic cod, Atlantic flounder, Atlantic sole, Chilean sea bass, and monkfish.

*Some categorizations are still disputed. Better safe than sorry–if a category is disputed (such as with Atlantic salmon or tuna), we recommend staying away from potentially contaminated fish and instead choosing safer options, or at the very least limiting your intake to once a month or less often. If a fish you often consume is not on this list, please consult the various resources we provide below. Your fish may fall into a disputed category.

To be a safe and sustainable consumer, we recommend doing your research and learning the source of all fish you consume. Fish can be an amazing source of nutrients; however, this day in age we must be conscious of food contamination, not limited to the seas–think GMOs, pesticides, preservatives, dyes, and other chemicals. Optimizing your health starts with knowing your food.

We hope you enjoy the series!

“Are fish from the Pacific Ocean and Japanese coastal and inland waters safe to eat 16 months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster?” Department of Nuclear Engineering, University of California, Berkeley.
“Fish 101.” American Heart Association.
“Fresh and Frozen Seafood: Selecting and Serving it Safely.” FDA.
“Fukushima nuclear plant: radioactive water ‘leak’.” BBC News Asia.
Mateljan, George. “Fish & Shellfish.” The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. George Mateljan Foundation: Seattle, 2007. Print.
Pennybacker, Mindy and P.W. McRandle.”Guide to Which Fish Are Safe to Eat.” Organic Consumers Association.