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.
This mouth watering crumble is naturally sweet and very versatile as any combination of fruit can be used. It make for a real comforting treat that the whole family can enjoy. It’s also super quick and easy to make and yes, you guessed it, its sugar free!
800g cooking apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
200g fresh/frozen strawberries (quartered)
3 tbsp water
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds (chop in a food processor or use a knife)
1 large tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Place the sliced fruit into a baking dish, then add the water and toss with salt to bring out some of the natural sweetness in the fruit.
In a separate bowl, mix together the oats, nuts and cinnamon, then pour in the melted coconut oil and mix well. Spoon the crumble mixture over the fruit to cover it entirely. Bake the crumble for 30-35 minutes or until the fruit is tender and bubbling.
Serve this ‘not so naughty’ dessert with a dollop of natural Greek yogurt or coconut cream.
Recipe taken from ‘Goodbye Sugar’ Book By Elsa Jones.