So, some of you may have heard me on RTE 2FM recently where I was on The Nicky Byrne Show with Jenny Greene speaking about nutrition to alleviate PMS and how we can learn to overcome emotional eating & comfort eating.
As part of the conversation we chatted about a fun news story from the US where a baker from Washington called Devon Loft has started selling & delivering baked goods with ingredients that are thought to alleviate symptoms of PMS. One of her most popular recipes from her Moon Cycle Bakery is a chocolate hazelnut brownie AKA ‘The Period Brownie’ which tastes a heck of a lot nicer than it sounds I promise! It contains a variety of nutrients associated with hormone balance & mood boosting properties.
So as promised here is one (of many) versions of the famed Chocolate PMS Brownies (slightly tweaked by me) for you to try out, I cant promise it will eradicate your PMS but it will certainly give your mood & taste buds a little boost and everyone deserves a treat now and again! Just don’t overdo them as they are calorie dense as well as nutrient dense!
For general health & weight management, you can read more about the 80:20 diet principle that’s the ethos behind my Perfect Balance Plan - an online nutrition & weight loss program which helps you live the 80:20 lifestyle with ease and deals with emotional eating & cravings. More info in video below:
PMS Chocolate Brownies (makes 8)
An indulgent but nutritious treat contain mood boosting nutrients
- 100g dark chocolate, chopped (70% cacao content)
- 4 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup almond flour
- 2 Tbsp. cacao powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 baking tray with parchment paper or grease with coconut oil.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil over low heat until smooth. Stir through the vanilla extract and maple syrup then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
3. Add the beaten eggs to the chocolate mixture and lightly hand whisk until smooth.
4. Place the dry ingredients into a separate bowl i.e. the almond flour, cacao, baking soda, and salt.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient and mix until well combined, then fold through the chopped hazelnuts.
6. Pour the mixture into your baking tin and smooth the surface. Bake at 180 degrees for 25 minutes, or until edges are set and the centre is still slightly underdone. (The centre will set as it cools.) Slice into squares and serve.
Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist & Author of Bestselling book ‘Goodbye Sugar’ available in book shops and on Amazon UK
Fancy a healthy treat? Check out my Chocolate Chip Energy Bars which really hit the spot if you’re craving something sweet and need a lil pick me up. Full of protein & fibre so super filling & nutritious too!
Ingredients (makes 10)
2 cups oats
1/3 cup of vanilla protein powder (I use GNC SpiruMeal)
½ tsp cinnamon
2tbsp ground flaxseed
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ cup honey
¼ cup almond butter
½ cup almond milk (unsweetened)
½ tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 170 °C.
- In a large bowl combine the oats, protein powder, cinnamon, flaxseed & salt.
- In a smaller bowl combine the almond butter, honey, vanilla & almond milk.
- Mix until combined then pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
- Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
- Pour the mixture into a small baking tray/pan lined with baking paper. Spread the mixture down flat & evenly using the back of a large spoon or your hand.
- Bake for 17-20 minutes until edges start to turn golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for approx 20-30 minutes before gently cutting into individual bars.
Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and author of Bestselling Book ‘Goodbye Sugar’ available in book shops and on Amazon UK.
Diet tips to boost mood naturally & reduce anxiety
Most of us view food as fuel, it’s what gives us energy to function throughout the day. We’re conscious of how our diet impacts our weight and physical health, however, many of us underestimate the impact our diet has on our mental health. Along with exercise, quality sleep and stress management, getting the right balance of nutrients in the diet can go a long way towards balancing your mood and anxiety levels. And this can be achieved by making small, simple tweaks to your diet:
Nutritionally Balanced Diet: First and foremost, eating an overall balanced diet is key. This starts with eating nutritionally balanced meals. So at meal times it’s important that you include a portion of protein along with complex carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables.
Protein – Including protein rich foods at meal times (e.g. eggs, chicken, fish, beans, nuts) is very important because protein contains the amino acid tryptophan which is the building block for serotonin production, a brain chemical that promote a feeling of well-being. If you have low levels of serotonin, it can lead to low mood, anxiety and poor sleep.
Protein also helps us to feel full & satisfied as well as keeping our blood sugar levels stable which is important for mood balance. Aim to fill one quarter of your plate with protein rich foods.
Complex Carbs: Including complex carbohydrates into your meals is equally important e.g. oats, brown rice, sweet potato, beans and green vegetables. Complex carbs give us a slow steady release of energy and encourage a slow steady release of serotonin. So, they have a long lasting positive effect on our energy & mood. However…Not all carbohydrates will have the same effect – Simple carbohydrates like sweets, chocolates and white flour foods will give you a quick energy & serotonin boost but the good feeling won’t last long because when you’re blood sugar levels crash you’re likely to experience a dip in energy and mood.
B complex vitamins – Another reason why complex carbohydrates are so important in the diet is they are a great source of B vitamins which are essential for good mental health. Our bodies can’t make them, so we depend on our daily diet to supply them. Also complex carbs like brown rice and green veg are rich in the mineral magnesium which is a calming mineral that helps the body cope with stress.
So to make sure you’re getting enough B vitamins & magnesium in your diet, I’d recommend that you fill one quarter of your dinner plate with healthy carbs like brown rice or sweet potato and fill half your dinner plate with vegetables, particularly green vegetables.
Vitamin D & Omega 3 - Getting enough vitamin D can be a challenge in Ireland because we don’t get enough sunlight, and if you’re vitamin D levels are low, you’re more likely to experience low mood. If that’s the case, you may benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement especially in the winter months along with eating foods which contain vitamin D like oily fish and eggs. Oily fish is also an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids which nourish our brain and nervous system, so it really is the ultimate good mood food – aim for 2-3 portions a week or consider taking an omega 3 supplement.
Sunlight & Exercise: Increasing your skins exposure to sunlight is also one of the best ways to top up your vitamin D levels. Try to spend at least 30 minutes outdoors in daylight every day. Doing some exercise outdoors is ideal as both sunlight and exercise are known to boost serotonin levels.
Limit Stimulants: And last but not least, I recommend limiting your intake of anything that stimulates the nervous system. Overdoing dietary stimulants like caffeine, sugar and alcohol can cause blood sugar highs and lows which in turn leads to dips in energy and mood. Too much caffeine can also rev up stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which can raise anxiety levels. Most people report feeling calmer with less caffeine
Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist & Bestselling Author of ‘Goodbye Sugar’. Available in book shops and on Amazon UK.
I go through phases of liking different things for breakfast but lately I’ve gone mad for chia pudding with fresh berries. Now that it’s warmer I’m happy to eat cold refreshing things in the morning and this really hits the spot! Also, I’m trying to cut down a bit on the carbs as will have to get into a bikini in 4 weeks – yikes!
Chia seeds are a great source of protein which helps you stay fuller for longer, they’re also full of fibre which helps keep things regular (if you know what I mean ) and they deliver lots of energy & mood boosting minerals like magnesium, iron and calcium!
I like mine with subtle flavours such as vanilla & cinnamon which adds natural sweetness. I pair my chia pudding with fresh berries because they’re full of anti-oxidant vitamins and low in fruit sugars, plus they’re juicy and refreshing and berrylicious!
For a bit of crunch factor, I sprinkle a little Quinoa Crunch or home made granola on top which gives extra bite! Both Chia Bia & Home Spun are Irish companies so it’s great to support our own don’t you think? Below is my recipe, let me know if you try it out!
Vanilla & Cinnamon Chia Pudding
- 6tbsp chia seeds (approx 1/3 cup)
- 2 cups almond milk (reduced sugar/unsweetened preferably)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp cinnamon
Mix or whisk the chia seeds with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl or glass jar with a lid. If using a jar, you can give it a good shake to mix the ingredient really well. Put in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Serve with chopped berries for a nutritious low GI breakfast.