Forget commercial cereal bars, loaded with sugar. Boosting your energy is far simpler than you think.
Eating healthily is very important to me. It always has been. But I must admit to being a complete contrarian when it comes to healthy food.
I take great care of the nutritional content of the food I serve, where I buy it and even grow a lot of the veg we eat. I’m also the type of irritating parent who becomes enraged by the ubiquity of sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks in schools, sports centres and at kids sporting events.
But – and here’s the perverse bit – I’m equally likely to get myself into a froth over the healthy cooks and cookbooks. Partly it’s the evangelical, Goddess of virtue way in which these books are marketed. Invariably fronted by preternaturally glowing, youthful blondes – the thinly veiled sub-text being that if I eat enough chia seeds I too will be youthful and blonde. I won’t be!
Which brings me to my main quibble. I’m not sure I trust the Goddesses of virtue to guide me through the confusion of information on healthy food. Most of these advocates have a subjective view point that colours their attitude to food. This generally forms the platform for their book, TV show or other sales offering; raw foods, superfoods or other food philosophy designed to entice pilgrims and part them from their pounds.
The thinking all muddled up in unsustainable new ways of eating that promise weight loss, that prey upon our food insecurities and are primarily interested in sales.
Food – the Big Picture
Ultimately the big picture on food hasn’t really changed that much. Eat a balanced diet, easy on the sugar, lay off the processed foods. Subscribing to this mantra will have a far bigger impact on your health than chugging down coconut water and mung beans Monday-Friday then letting rip on the Prosecco and posh ready meals at the weekend.
And if you do find your energy levels bottoming out eat nuts and seeds. Ask a nutritionist – I did, just to check I was giving you good advice – and they’ll tell you nuts and seeds are the best energy booster. Stacked with vitamins, minerals, protein, essential fat (for energy) and fibre. So, if you want a boost to spring into Spring, try one of these easy recipes. Or if that’s too much hassle grab a packet of unprocessed nuts or seeds and get chomping.
Fresh Nut Butter
After my first (sleepless) son was born this is what got me through the day. As night blurred into early morning I would toast a couple of enormous slabs of grainy bread, slather them in nutty butter, dot with chopped banana and drizzle with honey.
Best breakfast for new Mums. Also works on ‘hangry’ (hungry/angry children). And hangovers (if you’re unhealthy enough to have one).
One jar (see above)
450g nut of choice (my favs are peanut, hazelnut and cashew),
couple of tbsps. oil (nut or other), optional
couple of tbsps. Honey, optional
Put in the blender and blend. It will seem dusty and unpromising but keep going until the oil in the nuts is released and you end up with a smooth paste. Never quite a smooth as shop bought but homemade and nutritious.
Carrot and Hazelnut Salad
This is the sort of straightforward, barely-a-recipe, salad you probably never make at home but would be happy to fork out a few quid for at M&S (where it will probably contain sugars and other added ingredients).
100g hazelnuts, peanuts or walnuts sliced
50g sesame seeds
350g carrots, grated (or twiddled in a spiralizer)
1tsp lemon juice
1tsp peanut oil (or other oil)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
sea salt, black pepper
Lightly toast the hazelnuts (or don’t if you can’t be bothered) until the oils and flavours start to release. Toss in a bowl with the other ingredients. You can also add chopped ginger, maybe some beetroot, or parsley for extra iron. Season and leave to sit for a few minutes before serving. Good with something simple like roasted fish.
Classic Almond and Cacao Energy Balls
Energy balls are potentially one of those foodstuffs that might pitch me over the edge. A trendy health food containing raw cacao powder – a product that attracts the dubious classification of superfood – that you will pay more for as a consequence.
Rant aside, it is lower in sugar than commercial cocoa powder and, importantly as far as I’m concerned, it tastes really good. It’s also pretty easy to locate in supermarkets.
No baking involved and definitely a better energy source than reaching for biccies.
200g almonds (1 cup)
400g medjool dates (2 cups)
4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 ½ tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Begin by placing the almonds in the food processor and pulsing until they are nicely crushed. Add the medjool dates and coconut oil and pulse until it’s fully mixed Add the almond butter and cacao and then mix again in the food processor.
Take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until the mixture has finished. Place the rolled balls into the freezer for around 1 hour, then remove and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
This recipe is from Deliciously Ella – a blog I’ve mentioned before. A good source of non-poncy, healthy recipes and ideas.
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