Five new studies found that this savory spice can beat depression. Now, give one of these mood-boosting meals a try

By Mirel Ketchiff
Updated: December 10, 2015
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When it's cold out, nothing soothes the soul and brightens the spirit quite like a warm, spice-filled meal. And as it turns out, the mood boost from these flavorful dishes may not be imagined. In a new review of five studies, depressed people who took 30 milligrams (mg) of saffron, a slightly bitter, savory spice commonly used in Persian cuisines, daily for six to eight weeks experienced the same improvement in symptoms as those on antidepressants like Prozac.

And while the volunteers in the study took spice supplements, you can cook with the real deal too. Saffron can be pricey (a gram can cost upwards of $10, though price varies), but as you'll see from these eight easy healthy recipes, a little goes a long way. (Also, be sure to add these Best Foods to Boost Your Mood into your diet.)

Chickpea and Saffron Stew

A simple name for a simple dish. But there's nothing one-note about the flavors in this warming winter stew, which features a comforting blend of saffron, cumin, and paprika. Plus, it's vegan and gluten-free, to boot.

Persian Saffron-Spiced Pasta with Split Peas

This dish proves that veggie-packed meals can be just as hearty as their meat-y cousins. A bowl of this pasta will warm your soul and stick to your ribs.

Saffron Ginger Carrot Soup

Ginger and carrots is a classic pairing. The saffron adds depth and just a touch of bitterness, taking this soup from okay to outstanding. (If you love this meal, try these 6 Tasty Recipes Starring Ginger.)

Lamb and Feta Burger with Saffron Yogurt Sauce

Sure, the lamb burger is delicious-but the real star of the show is the saffron yogurt sauce, which would go great on veggies (like eggplant) too.

Saffron and Meyer Lemon Roast Chicken

Roasting a whole chicken saves you money and results in more flavorful meat than cooking pre-cut breasts. And this spice and lemon-rubbed version is no exception.

Bouillabaisse

The name of the dish is intimidating, but cooking it doesn't need to be. Just make your saffron-studded broth, add in whatever fish you fancy, and enjoy!

Peach-and-Plum Saffron Almond Cake

Just looking at this bright yellow cake, which is dotted with plums and ground almonds, will boost your mood. But you won't be able to resist digging in, either.

Olive Oil-Saffron Ice Cream with Burnt Orange-Caramel Swirl

I mean, we think the name is incentive enough to give it a try. With a savory-sweet flavor and super-creamy texture, you may want to make a double batch. (Warning: The recipe calls for an ice cream maker.)

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