How to get (and stay) energized

By Desiree Nielsen

Wednesday, May 24th

Energy. We all want more of it…and life seems designed to zap it. You may have already noticed the positive impact of getting active this month. So where does nutrition fit in?

Strictly speaking, food provides energy measured in calories. We burn up the chemical bonds in food to provide energy that our body can use to breathe, think and run.

Of course, this isn’t always the whole picture. You can eat something with a lot of calories…like a fast food combo…and feel pretty lethargic afterward. Not fair, right?

For nutrition that truly energizes, you want to choose more nutrient-dense foods. Think single ingredient, whole foods like apples, spinach and chicken. How you put those foods together matters too. Creating a balanced plate with lean protein, healthy fats and quality carbs from beans, veggies, fruits and whole grains will help you keep blood sugars stable so you can avoid the crash. It’s as simple as making a turkey sandwich on sprouted grain bread, piled high with veggies - or whole grain spaghetti tossed with white beans and sautéed greens.

When our energy levels crash, many of us are programmed to reach for sugar…but it’s the last thing you want to eat because it will leave you feeling lethargic. First ask yourself, are you well hydrated? If not, drink. Next check in with your hunger level: has it been awhile since your last meal? Make yourself a whole food snack like hummus and carrots.

Sometimes, you just want a little boost. This week’s featured recipe, Salted Chocolate Almond Gems are perfect for that. Whole food sweetness from dates, balanced with healthy fats and protein from almond butter. They are one of the healthiest ways I know to get your chocolate fix!

Salted Chocolate Almond Gems
From “Un-Junk Your Diet: How to shop, cook and eat to fight inflammation and feel better, forever”

Craving chocolate? How about chocolate with a side of healthy? Dates are a mineral rich alternative to refined sugars and the sea salt makes these raw truffles extra delectable.

Makes 10-12 bites

Place the pitted dates in a food processor and pulse until the dates are about the size of peas. Add almond butter, cacao or cocoa powder, vanilla and salt. Pulse until combined. Mixture will be crumbly.

Roll mixture into 1/2 inch balls and then roll in raw cacao, cocoa powder or chopped almonds. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or freeze to enjoy later on.