Credit: Ashley Randall

With sunshine nearly year-round, Santa Monica provides one of the happiest and healthiest environments for its inhabitants, yet those of us who dwell in sunny climates are not immune to things like mood disorders. Nearly ten percent of Americans have been diagnosed with depression and about double that have anxiety. 

The first of its kind, in a trial whose acronym aptly spells SMILES, (Supporting the Modification of lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States), a group of participants were asked to change their diet to eliminate most processed foods and to adopt the Mediterranean diet. Rich in foods like seafood, shellfish, nuts, veggies and olive oil, this way of eating was found not only to help with depression, but to send some of its participants into full remission. Thirty-two percent of people who changed their eating regime didn’t just feel a little better, their depression was gone. Poof. Even anxiety was seen to diminish in these subjects.

Nutritional Psychiatrist, Dr. Drew Ramsey outlines specific nutrients that are key when it comes to mood. In his book, “Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety”, Dr. Ramsey cites minerals from magnesium to selenium and several B vitamins as remedies for depression. These are all found in everyday foods like seafood, shellfish and brightly colored fruits and veggies, which is where he says we should get them, instead of relying on supplements. 

Crudo e Moodo 

Our trip to Crudo e Nudo is enough to boost anyone’s mood. Focusing not only on local produce, the owners, Chef Brian Bornemann and Leena Culhane, source the freshest West Coast fish available. “[By the time it gets to our front door,] we know exactly how many hands have touched it, how it’s been handled, what temperature it’s been at the whole time and what the carbon footprint is,” Bornemann tells me, a point he makes with pride. 

Most seafood and sushi restaurants rely on fish from the Atlantic, Maine or Japan, but the native Santa Monican he is, Bornemann focuses on what is right here in his neighborhood. Having grown up attending the Santa Monica Farmers Market, he relishes freshly caught fare and uses it to inspire his daily menu, which he creates with simple, high-quality ingredients. Though it doesn’t taste simple, it certainly is refreshing. “It’s more about just taking what nature gives us than planning ahead,” he says.

When we stumble into the delightful and homey nook on Main Street one rainy evening, we’re welcomed enthusiastically by Brittany. She pours us a ‘bubble’, as she calls it, and we bask in its crispness as we wait not for a table, but for our two spots at one of the two communal four-tops inside.  

Born from the pandemic, this elegant hole in the wall serves up (you guessed it) crudo and many other delicacies. While the menu features options for everyone (the vegan Caesar salad is delish,) it focuses on seafood like mussels, shrimp, and anti-inflammatory veggies, all of which are integral to the Mediterranean diet. In addition to its cuisine and well-chosen wine list, the camaraderie bred at the communal tables elevates one’s mood as well. Typically one to steer clear of crowds, I dread joining our fellow diners at the tiny table, but we’re greeted so warmly I feel like we’ve joined old friends. It instantly becomes more of a dinner party than a quiet evening for two. They regale us with their favorite menu options and tell us more than once that they always make a reservation to return before they leave the restaurant. We think about doing the same. 

Though I can be finicky about raw fish, the bigeye tuna crudo melts in my mouth with a perfect flavor combination that delights tastebuds and satisfies at the same time.  We think about ordering another one, but instead opt for the Caesar salad accompanied by the prawns and are not disappointed. The menu is easy to navigate, as nothing seems to sponsor guilt here. The only regret we have is not ordering a ‘his and hers’ prawns: one for each of us. 

Is it that simple? Certainly dietary changes are only one component of mental wellbeing and should not replace any treatment plan already in place by your physicians, but since dining as a family has been shown to improve mental health, this way of eating is one prescription whose only side effect is health. Since Dr. Ramsey promotes foods from tinned fish and red wine to nibbling on dark chocolate a few times each week, like those chocolate almond butter cups on the dessert menu at Crudo, eating food to enhance our mood in a tight knit community just got a whole lot sweeter.

Caesar’s Gone Vegan Dressing

Recipe courtesy of Chef Brian Bornemann


300 grams aquafaba (drained liquid from cooked chick peas) 

35-40 grams rehydrated kombu (seaweed)

12 grams black garlic

400 grams blended oil

5-7 lemons, juiced

Splash cold water (to help emulsify)

8 grams black pepper

25 grams capers

65 grams white miso paste

2 grams salt

15 grams cava vinegar


  1. Combine aquafaba, seaweed, and black garlic in a blender. Start on low, working up to high. 
  2. Once mixture is foamy, add oil. Start with a tablespoon to emulsify mixture. 
  3. Alternate adding oil and lemon juice to blender (do not add all of the juice until you’ve tasted it). Add ice water to help properly emulsify mixture
  4. Once all oil is added, taste the mixture for acidity. 
  5. Start blender on low and work up to high and add black pepper, capers, miso and salt.
  6. Taste for seasoning.
  7. Slowly add ¼ cup of oil. If mixture breaks, use ice water and seaweed liquid to patch it together. 
  8. Add 1 capful of cava vinegar. Taste for seasoning.

Katharine Jameson is a graduate of Syracuse University and a Certified Health Counselor. Her growing interest and research in nutrition solved her own weight problems. A mother of two, she is compelled to share the ease with which good health is obtained through the integration of simple, whole foods and proper nutrition.  Based in Brentwood, Katharine writes a bi-monthly column where she discusses pivotal health topics, local businesses and interviews cutting edge experts. She can be found on Instagram at @foodforthoughtwithkat.