As the sun peeked over Camelback Mountain, its golden rays painted the rugged landscape of Echo Canyon. The trail wound through the desert oasis between the Arcadia neighborhood and Paradise Valley. Saguaro cacti stood like sentinels, their arms reaching for the sky. The trail’s weathered red rocks lined the path.

Annie and LJ stepped lightly as a warm breeze blew, indicating the coming hot day. Ahead, a stream of crystal-clear water flowed over smooth stones – a silver ribbon cutting through the arid land.

“Do you see the Cardinal?” Annie pointed at the giant Acacia, where the bird’s scarlet plumage contrasted against the tree’s bright green leaves.

“Where? Oh, I see it now. I’ve been watching the hawks and hummingbirds. This is like bird heaven.”

“I know. Every time we go on an early morning walk, it sets the tone for the whole day. Being surrounded by the rhythm of nature evokes a positive energy and serenity–it’s like a gift from the desert itself.”

“There is something magical about these early morning hours. I feel recharged.” LJ adjusted his hat. “So, what’s the secret to tapping into this positive energy?”

I think the first thing to do is recognize that mood and positive energy are precious resources. Just like water and sunlight, they’re essential to our well-being. And what we put into our bodies to support them plays a significant role.”

LJ laughed. “That sounds right. When we get home, I’m thinking about a bowl of mood-boosting berries – strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries for breakfast. They all contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in my joints.”

“I’m going for papaya for breakfast. Tropical fruits like papaya are delicious and rich in vitamins and enzymes that lift our spirits. I can see us sitting in our garden on cooker days, sharing a papaya snack.”

“Sounds like a plan. While we’re enjoying papaya, how about adding watermelon? It’s the quintessential summer fruit! At 92% water, a juicy slice on a hot day is like a burst of happiness.”

“It’s not summer without Water-melon,” nodded Annie. “Another water-dense veggie is cucumbers. They are like little hydration heroes. They keep us cool and refreshed. Plus, they’re low in calories, so guilt-free snacking!”

“A cucumber as a snack is a good idea because I lose my appetite in hot weather. Cucumbers, being 96% water, are excellent for hydration. The right amount of hydration regulates temperature, delivers nutrition, and improves mood.”

“I agree, LJ. We both love leafy greens like spinach, kale, and lettuce. We should make a salad to enjoy later. They’re high in nutrients, calcium, and water, too. Eating leafy greens has been linked to slower cognitive decline. A study found that eating at least one serving of leafy greens daily improves brain function. An added benefit of kale, spinach, and certain lettuces is they are high in fiber. This helps regulate blood sugar levels and prevents overeating. We should add nuts and Seeds to the salad. Almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds provide plant-based proteins and healthy fats. They contain tryptophan, which boosts serotonin production, a mood-elevating neurotransmitter.”

“Just talking about these foods and their benefits is definitely mood-lifting, especially in this hot weather,” LJ said as he paused to sip water. “I don’t want to race you on this uneven trail, but let’s get home ASAP. I’m hungry!”

 

 

Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.

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