Foods can help us sleep

Science shows that what you eat can influence how much quality sleep you get. So, with some savvy cooking, there is hope for finally getting the ever-elusive shut-eye of your dreams and feeling like a champ. These recipes feature the foods you need to help bring on sweet dreams.

Pumpkin Crusted Salmon with Sweet Potato Mash

Good news for the reluctant or harried cook: this dish comes together quickly but presents itself as something truly fanciful. Rainbow trout and arctic char are good stand-ins for salmon with nearly the same sleep-inducing nutritional make-up.

1/3 cup (80 mL) pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1/2 tsp (2 mL) garlic powder
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) cayenne
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt, divided
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
1 lb (450 g) salmon fillets
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh thyme
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard

Heat oven to 325 F (162 C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In blender or mini food processor, pulse pumpkin seeds, olive oil, garlic powder, cayenne, 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt, and black pepper until mixture forms a semi-dry paste. Alternatively, in bowl, finely chop pumpkin seeds and mix with other ingredients.

Coat salmon fillets with pumpkin mixture. Bake salmon for 18 minutes, or until just barely cooked through in the center.

As salmon cooks, place sweet potatoes in large saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and mash with butter, thyme, mustard, and 1/4 tsp (2 mL) salt. Alternatively, steam sweet potato cubes until tender and then mash with the other ingredients.

Spread sweet potato mash on serving plates and top with salmon.

Serves 4

Each serving contains: 363 calories; 26 g protein; 22 g total fat (6 g sat. fat); 19 g total carbohydrates (4 g sugars, 3 g fiber); 421 mg sodium

Yogurt Bowl with Tart Cherry Compote

If you’re hungry for a nighttime snack, then spoon up this creamy, sweet-tart yogurt bowl. It’s also a great breakfast option with a little granola tossed on top.

1 cup (250 mL) tart cherry juice
1 Tbsp (15 mL) honey
1 cup (250 mL) dried tart cherries
1 Tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh ginger
2 tsp (10 mL) grated orange zest
Pinch of salt
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
3 cups (750 mL) plain yogurt
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped walnuts

In medium saucepan, place cherry juice, honey, dried cherries, ginger, orange zest, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

With slotted spoon, remove dried cherries from pan and set aside. Raise heat to high and boil, uncovered, for 3 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by about half and syrupy. Stir cherries back into liquid and add vanilla.

Place yogurt in serving bowls and top with cherry compote and walnuts.

Serves 4

Each serving contains: 479 calories; 17 g protein; 12 g total fat (2 g sat. fat); 74 g total carbohydrates (61 g sugars, 2 g fiber); 175 mg sodium

Southwest Tofu Scramble Tacos

Stuffing a highly seasoned tofu scramble into steamy tortillas proves that tacos can handle all sorts of whims and fancies. And it’s a speedy meatless meal that can help you snag more zzz’s.

1 block (12 oz/350 g) extra-firm tofu
2 tsp (10 mL) grapeseed oil or avocado oil
1 cup (250 mL) chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) turmeric
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground coriander
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ancho chili pepper or 1/4 tsp (1 mL) cayenne
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) black pepper
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
3 Tbsp (45 mL) nutritional yeast
1 cup (250 mL) cooked or canned black beans
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped cilantro
8 corn tortillas, warmed
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 cup (125 mL) salsa of choice
Lime wedges

Using large holes of box grater, grate tofu into pebble-sized pieces, or finely chop with knife.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in turmeric, coriander, ancho pepper or cayenne, salt, and pepper; heat for 30 seconds. Add tofu, bell pepper, and nutritional yeast to skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in black beans, heat for 2 more minutes, and then add cilantro.

Divide tofu mixture among tortillas and top with avocado and salsa. Squirt on lime juice.

Serves 4

Each serving contains: 483 calories; 21 g protein; 17 g total fat (3 g sat. fat); 65 g total carbohydrates (6 g sugars, 16 g fiber); 380 mg sodium

By Matthew Kadey, MSc, RD