Beat the Winter Blues with this Mood-Boosting Recipe

Cynthia Bailey, MD|March 4, 2015

Beat the Winter Blues with a Mood Boosting Citrus Recipe Spring is almost here! The days are getting longer and the warm rays of the sun are breaking through more often. Contrary to how some of you who live north of the equator might feel right now, a warm up is on its way - and we've got some help to make it feel like it's coming sooner rather than later. First, know that you aren't alone. The last part of winter is often the hardest. Cozy warm sweaters and "chestnuts roasting on an open fire" have lost their charm about now. It's cabin fever time and you might feel like breaking out of that cave where you've been hibernating all winter, but it's not quite time yet. If so, you might be experiencing the winter blues, and they are a real thing - the technical term is Seasonal Affective Disorder. This disorder is aptly named - the abbreviations being SAD - since the symptoms resemble depression:

  • Irritability
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, "leaden" feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain

The Mayo Clinic goes on to explain how this form of depression could be caused by several things, including a drop in serotonin levels because of the reduced sunlight exposure. The good news is, of course, that we're on the downhill slide to spring and summer. So it won't be long before you're lazing on the beach, slathered in sunscreen, under an umbrella, wearing your favorite sun hat and soaking up the therapeutic warmth of the sun. In the meantime, nature has given us a great tool to combat the winter blues: Vitamin C. "Some studies show that Vitamin C can have mood-elevating effects," writes Brent A. Bauer MD with the Mayo Clinic. It has an effect on the serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that scientists say is responsible for maintaining mood balance. This is why one of the symptoms of scurvy, a disease caused by Vitamin C deficiency, is depression. In this small study at Mie University School of Medicine in Japan, the use of citrus in aromatherapy helped reduce depressed patients' medication loads. While Vitamin C certainly isn't a miracle cure if you have SAD, there is still something undeniably uplifting about citrus smells. They have that fresh scent of sunshine that puts a smile on your face, even in the dead of winter. That's why having a citrus pick-me-up meal in the middle of winter is just what the doctor - and Mother Nature - ordered. For those of you who don't live in a citrus-producing area, did you know that citrus fruit ripens in late winter? Truly the earth takes good care of us! Get nature's antidepressant now by setting a little time out for yourself to make this citrus recipe - your serotonin will thank you for it. Skin Tip: Did you notice that Dr. Bailey never recommends citrus essence in skin care products?  That's because it is taunting to your body and when applied to your skin can cause you to develop a citrus allergy. The allergy often shows up first around your lips as chronically chapped lips when you drink citrus beverages or twist citrus in your water or tea. Eat your citrus, don't apply it to your skin. For Vitamin C, which is an important anti-oxidant for your anti-aging skin care routine, go straight to the vitamin without the citrus; apply a professional-grade Vitamin C product with 10% or more stabilized L-ascorbic acid such as Dr. Bailey's Vitamin C Serum. 3de832075041b451088b7b74ec8202fb Photo and recipe from

Citrus Recipe - Citrus Dream Bowl


1 blood orange

1 variety of grapefruit

1 cara cara orange

optional: kumquats, sliced thinly

1 can of coconut milk

1 tablespoon raw honey

3 pinches flake salt

mint leaves for garnish


Remove the skin from the citrus fruits and cut into supremés— see this tutorial to see what I mean —or remove the skin and slice evenly. Open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the coconut cream; discard the coconut water at the bottom of the can or save it for a later use. Place the coconut cream into a bowl with 1 tablespoon raw honey. Use an immersion blender to combine the honey and the cream. Once combined and silky, add 2-3 pinches of flake sea salt. This will bring out the caramel notes of the honey. Blend it for a few more seconds to combine.

Divide orange slices into two or three bowls, placing a couple of slices of each variety in each bowl. Next, spoon a bit of coconut cream over the citrus fruit. Garnish with baby mint leaves.

Feel free to make it more than just a quick summer dish. Maybe you could pick a night this week and break out the grill. Pretend it's summer and fix a meal worthy of late June, when grilling is a regular staple of dinner prep and warm breezes make dinner outside a chance to pamper yourself. Instead of Christmas in July, you'll have Summer in March. For some summer recipes ideas, you can head over to our Pinterest board, Summer Lovin' (in the Winter), and pick up some mood boosting ideas for your eyes while you're there.

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