Fighting the Winter Blues (With a recipe for Light and Easy Vegetarian Chipotle Bean Burritos and Guacamole, gluten free and vegan versions included)

Written and compiled by Lori Jo and published on the Advantage Wellness Management Inc. blog, websites, and all their social medias but the company has since closed due to new health reform laws so I am publishing the work here as an example of my published work.

Recipe adaption’s, and recipes, by Lori Jo


Here in Argentine, the southern hemisphere, winter will be here any day now. That usually means the coming of the winter blues. I think we all get it in one form or another but usually by the start of winter, we are all a little blue and ready to get winter over with and by the end of winter we are feeling pretty bad and ready for spring. I know for me it hits hard. I am not one for cold weather, short days, grayness and being inside so much because it really dampens my mood.  The formal name for this is Seasonal Affective Disorder, better known as S.A.D., and some people suffer great depressions because of this. This article covers some of the ways to deal with S.A.D. or the end of winter blues and at the end of the article is a very cheerful recipe for chipotle burritos that are healthy and light and contain healthy carbohydrates which are recommended in cases of S.A.D. to boost your energy level and mood. Besides, Mexican food always reminds me of summer, fun, and vacations!

Fewer daylight hours are the cause of S.A.D. and the percentage of people affected grows the farther they are away from the equator. The reason for this is linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain due to shorter daylight hours and lack of sunlight. The sleep inducing hormone melatonin may also be linked to S.A.D. because it is produced at night and the longer hours of darkness cause more of this hormone to be produced.   Increased melatonin causes sleepiness and low energy, which is typical in cases of S.A.D. Another way in which reduced sunlight can affect you is with a reduced level of serotonin, a chemical in the brain which effects mood. In the northern hemisphere, January and February are the most difficult months for sufferers of S.A.D.

The symptoms of S.A.D. are the following:

  • Cravings for carbohydrates
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of interest in normal activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Weight gain

The problem with S.A.D. is there are no medical tests for this. The only way to make a diagnosis is through a complete medical history and part of this is the elimination of any possible physical causes. This may or may not include medical tests.  Some possible medical conditions that may present similar symptoms include underactive thyroid, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis and/or other viral infections. So, if you feel you may have S.A.D. please consult with a medical professional to rule out other possibilities.

There are numerous ways to help reduce S.A.D.  Dr. Andrew Weil recommends the following treatments:

  • A well balanced diet
  • B vitamins, especially folic acid and vitamin B6
  • Daily aerobic exercise (his preferred treatment)
  • Fish oil. Recent studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be helpful in maintaining a healthy emotional balance
  • Light boxes
  • Moving closer to the equator
  • SAMe (S-adenosy-L-methionine). Use only the butanedisulfonate form in enteric-coated tablets, or in capsules. Try 400-1,600 mg a day on an empty stomach
  • St. John’s Wort (Do not use St. John’s Wort if you are taking any of following medications:  anti-retrovirals, birth control pills, or antidepressant medications, especially SSRIs like Prozac or Celexa. St. John’s Wort can alter the metabolism of numerous medications; ask your physician before combining the herb with prescription medications)
  • Vitamin D supplements (Since it is estimated that more than 70 percent of the U.S. population is D-deficient, Dr. Weil recommends that everyone take a daily supplement of 2,000 IU but notes that higher doses of vitamin D may be needed to effectively treat SAD)

 Light and Easy Vegetarian Chipotle Bean Burritos

(With or without guacamole)

Chipotle Burrito photo is from the My Recipes website.

Chipotle Burrito photo is from the My Recipes website.

Serves 6 depending on the size of the tortillas you use. If you like guacamole, you can serve this with guacamole inside.  Below is a list of avocados that are available in late winter and or year round.

  • Fuerte (November to March)
  • Gwen (January to September)
  • Hass (year-round)
  • Pinkerton (early winter to spring)
  • Pinkerton (winter)
  • Zutano (October to February)

Guacamole is healthy, creamy and delicious. Because it is rich in Omega-3 it is very healthy for your heart and it will help you achieve beautiful, glowing skin and hair. The high folic acid content is great for metabolizing proteins, thus providing you with more energy. It is also filled with vitamin B6 and potassium which help regulate women’s thyroid glands. Guacamole is also raw which means the nutritional content is natural and pure, without being reduced from cooking or processing.

Ingredients for the Guacamole

  • 1 ripe avocado, skinned, stone removed, mashed
  • ½ lime, zest and juice
  •  ½ tomato, seeds removed, cubed
  • ¼ red onion, peeled, finely chopped
  •  1 small handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (if you cannot find cilantro, use flat leaf parsley, save a little for garnish)
  •  A few drops Tobasco or hot chili sauce (if you cannot find, use fresh chili)
  •  Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Guacamole photo is from the Clean Eating Chelsey Blog

Guacamole photo is from the Clean Eating Chelsey Blog

Method for the Guacamole

  • Mix all ingredients together in a nonmetallic bowl and serve immediately, you can leave it chunky or make it creamier, however you like.
  • Sprinkle powdered paprika or cayenne pepper on top, a little of the cilantro you set aside for garnish and then drizzle a little olive oil. This is now ready to add to the burritos or put on the table as a dip for chips, toasted pita bread, or whatever you choose

Note: Avocados oxidize rapidly and turn brown so make and serve the guacamole immediately before eating.  Aside from flavor, this is one of the reasons lime juice is in the guacamole. You can also put the avocado seed into the bowl with the guacamole it and this will help it from turning brown so fast, a tip my colleague Stephanie shared with me that her late aunt gave her. She made amazing Mexican food!

Ingredients for the Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo photo is from the Spark Recipes website.

Pico de Gallo photo is from the Spark Recipes website.

  • 1 ½ large tomato diced
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • ¼ bunch of cilantro
  • Juice of ¼ to ½ lemon (add according to consistency)
  • 1 green jalapeno chili
  • ¼ tsp. minced garlic
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Method for the Pico de Gallo

  1. Wash tomatoes and cilantro
  2. Dice tomatoes and onions, chop cilantro and jalapenos, and mince the garlic
  3. Put all the ingredients in a bowl
  4. Add garlic, lemon juice and the salt and pepper to taste, mix and set aside

Ingredients for the Burritos

  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic black beans, drained or wash and soak the dried beans the night before and cook these
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic kidney beans, drained (same as above)
  • 3 tbsp. fresh pico de gallo
  • 6 reduced-fat flour or whole wheat tortillas*
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) pre-shredded reduced-fat or regular cheddar cheese or cheddar and white cheese blend
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped plum tomatoes (about 3)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 6 tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
  • 6 tbsp. chopped red onion
  • 6 tbsp. light or regular sour cream

*If you are looking for a gluten free version replace the flour tortillas with corn but make them as tacos since the tortilla is too small to wrap. I think a large corn tortilla would fall apart and this is why you never see them.

Note:  For a vegan version, use a non-dairy vegan sour cream and cheese replacement or just eat them without.

Method for the Burritos

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in chili powder and salt; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in 1/3 cup water and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salsa. Partially mash bean mixture with a fork
  2. Warm tortillas according to package directions
  3. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into center of each tortilla
  4. Top each serving with about 2 1/2 tbsp. cheese, 1/4 cup tomato, 1/4 cup lettuce, 1 tbsp. green onions, 1 tbsp. red onions, 1 tbsp. sour cream, and 1 tbsp. guacamole (if using); roll up and serve

Smile and enjoy with family and friends! Salud!




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