Anna Pulls Herself Out of Anxiety and Depression + Plant Based Curry Laksa (oil-free)
By Molly Patrick
Sep 5, 2020,
Today’s post is all about not feeling good enough.
Have you ever been going along, living your life, and you start to realize that things are not the way you thought they would be? You know there are things in your life that aren’t serving you, but you don’t know how to crawl out of the dark hole of anxiety and depression. No matter what you do, you are mentally saddled by the non-stop comparison of where you are in life and where you want to be.
The incessant destructive inner dialogue of what-have-I-accomplished runs deep, and you’re not up for sharing how you feel because you don’t want to bring people down, so you shove it all inside and go about your life. Until your body rebels and says, NO MORE.
Anna has been in our community and batching the Meal Plans for a number of months now, and she’s been on her plant-based journey for years. She made the switch to eating plants after realizing she needed to make major changes if she was going to escape a downward spiral of self-doubt and criticism that left her struggling with depression and anxiety.
While we hear a lot about the metabolic health benefits of eating plants, we don’t hear much about the potential impact of plant based eating on mental health. There’s something there though. The experience of many, including Anna and myself, is that adopting a whole food plant based diet was a key step in navigating away from a path of self-destruction and towards a path of self-love. Finding that love has a tremendous positive impact on how you view life and approach obstacles as they pop up (because they will!). You will be inspired by Anna’s vibrancy, attitude, and her story because it’s one that so many of us silently endure.
Heads up that suicide is referenced towards the end of our chat. This year has been one of unprecedented stress for everyone, and there is no doubt that those struggling with depression have this stress compounded. If this is you, ask for help. The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support. Dial 988 if you’re in crisis or having thoughts about suicide.
Here’s a note from Anna before you watch our chat:
I want to start by expressing how incredibly grateful I am to be a part of this amazing and supportive community. I read everyone’s inspiring stories and I’m so honoured to share mine with you.
About 4 years ago, I hit the lowest point in my life. I felt helpless and worthless and at 35, I felt like I should have accomplished more in my life.
After nearly being killed by a car, and having 13 broken bones, I had nothing positive in my life. Not only were my bones broken, but my spirit was too. I started to spiral into a deep depression, and I missed a lot of work because I had debilitating anxiety. I’d lie in bed all day and I started to hate myself. I’d make frequent trips to my doctor to get prescription medication, and I drank to self-medicate. I was completely lost. I was a shell of a person.
One day, I decided that enough was enough. I deserved better for myself, and I desperately wanted to start respecting my body. So I started eating a plant based diet.
Within a few weeks, my life started to change. I started to sleep better and deeper.
Within a few weeks, my life started to change. I started to sleep better and deeper. I was able to focus and think clearly. My personal relationships grew stronger. I had more energy. My skin cleared up. I started to exercise again. I felt motivated. I felt like I could do anything. My entire mood changed. I never thought I could feel this amazing just from changing my diet.
Eating a plant based diet has changed my life. At 39, I’m back in school for the first time in almost 20 years. I’m active. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day. I’m focused. I don’t remember the last time I had anxiety. Simple tasks that once seemed impossible are now enjoyable. Be kind to your body, and it will be kind to you.
A quick warning that we do use adult language in this talk.
Closed Captioning available.
Anna, thank you for being so vulnerable, and for sharing your story with us, you are such a kick-ass human. I am beyond happy for you and I wish you the very best.
- 2-3 dried red chilis, soaked (directions below) (Use 2 for mild to medium heat and 3 for medium to hot heat / you can substitute ½ teaspoon of dried red chili flakes if needed)
- 1 tablespoon whole raw cashews, soaked (directions below) (5 g)
- ½ tablespoon coriander powder
- 1¼ teaspoon sweet paprika powder
- ¾ teaspoon cumin powder
- ¾ teaspoon curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ⅓ cup shallots, roughly chopped (55 g)
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled and then smashed with the flat of your knife
- 2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- ½ tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon white or yellow miso
- 1 teaspoon coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon dulse flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne powder
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper (about 5 turns)
- 2¾ cups canned full-fat coconut milk (see directions below) (650 ml) (you can substitute light coconut milk if needed)
- 1¾ cups fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced (115 g)
- 2 cups zucchini, unpeeled and chopped (220 g)
- ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced, root ends discarded (25 g)
- 1 cup kale, finely chopped (30 g)
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (705 ml)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne powder (omit for a less spicy curry)
- 1 8 oz package udon noodles (227 g)
- mint leaves, chopped, for garnish
- sesame seeds, for garnish (you can toast these for an extra flavor punch if you want)
- crushed red chili flakes, for garnish
- lime wedges, for garnish
Make the Laksa Paste first
- Remove and discard the chili pepper stems, then cut a slit along the side of each chili and shake out and discard the seeds. If you love spicy, feel free to leave a few seeds in. Place the chili peppers (or chili flakes if using) and cashews in a small heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 20 minutes, while you continue with the recipe.
- In a small bowl, stir together the coriander, paprika, cumin, curry, and turmeric and set aside. Heat a small skillet over low heat for 2 minutes. Place the spice mix in the skillet and cook for 1 minute, while stirring, until wonderfully fragrant. Transfer the spice mixture to your food processor and set aside for now.
- When the chilis and cashews are done soaking, drain into a fine mesh strainer (discard soaking water) and transfer to your food processor, along with the rest of the Laksa Paste ingredients. Process until well blended and the mixture forms a paste, stopping to scrape down the sides of your bowl as necessary. You’ll want to blend really well until only the tiniest specks of chilis can be seen. If you have a larger-sized processor, you may need to scrape down the sides more often and push the mixture closer to the blade. Transfer to a small dish and set aside for now and continue with the Curry.
Now, make the Curry
- Prep and measure out all the Curry ingredients before you start. For easy measuring, transfer the coconut milk from the can into a bowl and whisk to make sure it’s smooth before measuring.
- Heat a large soup pot over medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Add the Laksa Paste and cook, while stirring, for 3 minutes, until the Paste begins to smell heavenly.
- Add the mushrooms, zucchini, green onion, and kale and stir to coat with the Laksa Paste. Stir in the coconut milk, veggie broth, salt, and cayenne (if using). Increase heat to medium and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with a lid at an angle and simmer for 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Lower heat, if necessary, to keep from boiling.
Bring it all together
- Cook your noodles according to the package directions. When they’re cooked, transfer to a strainer and give them a quick rinse with warm water. Strain out the excess water by tapping the strainer against the sink, then set aside.
- Place a generous amount of cooked Udon noodles into your bowl and then ladle some Curry Laksa on top. Top with mint, sesame seeds, and chili flakes (if using), and serve with a lime wedge on the side. Squeeze fresh lime juice on top just before eating and savor the ambrosia flavors of the Dirty Girl version of this well-loved Malaysian Soup.
Wishing you a happy week, may it be filled with finding peace.
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