Whether you’re unwinding after a long day at the office or spending a Sunday lounging outside, relaxation time is an absolute necessity. These delicate moments allow both our minds and bodies to slow down, giving them the break they need to continue working at top performance.
In addition to cuddling up under that blanket, consider incorporating some stress-reducing foods and ingredients into your relaxation routine. The recipes below feature ingredients that encourage relaxation or trigger the release of stress-reducing amino acids. Combine these tasty snacks with your coziest moments and dive into utter tranquility.
Chamomile and Honey Scones
(Pictured at top)
Chamomile is known for its sedative, muscle-relaxant, and stress-relieving properties. These light and flakey scones capture the delicate flavor of the herb, and the honey adds just the right amount of sweet. Enjoy these treats on a rainy Sunday morning, or late at night with a class of cold milk and a friend.
2 cups of self-rising flour
3 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of vanilla
2 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp of dried chamomile flowers
1/2 cup of whole milk
Combine the flour, butter, vanilla, honey, and chamomile into a food processor until it reaches a consistency similar to breadcrumbs. Add the milk and pulse until the mixture balls together to form a thick dough.
Using your hands, roll the dough into thick balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dip the bottom of a glass into flour, and use to gently press down onto the scones to create even circles. I like a rustic look to my scones. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Serve with butter, jam, or honey.
Rosemary and Sea Salt Popcorn
Popcorn is the chameleon of snack foods. It can be enjoyed during times of celebration, laziness, entertainment, and, for our purposes, relaxation. The carbohydrates in popcorn releases the amino acid tryptophan into our brains, which then releases the relaxation-inducing neurotransmitter serotonin. The rosemary oil adds an herbal touch, making this snack food a wonderful way to wind down and enjoy.
1 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup and 2 tbsp of good olive oil, divided
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary sprigs
Sea salt to taste
Combine the oil and rosemary in a small, heavy saucepan. Cook the oil over a low heat for five minutes, and then remove the pan from the heat. Allow the oil to cool for at least fifteen minutes.
Add the popcorn kernels and remaining oil to a large, heavy pot with a lid. Cook until the kernels begin to pop, then shake the pot in thirty second intervals to prevent any burning. Once the kernels have stopped popping, add the sea salt and rosemary oil to the pot. Shake or stir to combine, and season more, if needed.
Blueberry and Basil Lemonade
While some may visualize relaxation time in an armchair by the fire, there’s something to be said for chilling out on a beach chair with a nice, cool drink. If your idea of relaxation includes suntan lotion and an afternoon by the pool, gather your friends and decompress over this bright and flavorful lemonade, which can be made with or without alcohol. Bob Marley playlist optional.
1 cup of fresh blueberries, plus extra for garnish
1 cup of fresh strawberries
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups of water
2 tsp of agave nectar
1/4 cup of champagne
4-5 leaves of basil, torn
Lemon wedges to garnish
Optional: 1 cup of vodka (I like Tito’s or Ketel One)
Add all of the ingredients to a blender and pulse until liquefied. Pour into small glasses or a large pitcher. Serve with ice, blueberries, lemon wedges, and basil to garnish.
Makes four drinks.
Photos by Amanda Kohr.
Amanda Kohr is a 24-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the internet via her blog at cozycaravan.com.