You’re scrambling to finish a presentation in time for your 3 PM meeting. Problem is, your brain shut down and you can barely stay awake. You decide to skip the coffee and reach for something healthy instead—a granola bar, the perfect pick me up. So you think.
Ever read the label? One granola bar we looked at contained brown sugar, corn syrup, invert sugar, sugar and corn syrup solids (all refined sugar)…and only one measly gram of protein.
With virtually no nutrients, these simple carbohydrates will produce a spike in blood sugar levels followed soon after by a crash—not ideal for the brain, which requires an even flow of energy to function at its best. Not to mention that refined sugar is addictive and linked to depression and other mood disorders.
What should you eat for a steady mind? Protein + complex carbohydrates + healthy fats at every meal—including snacks. It’s that simple.
Here’s a yummy alternative to that sugar-loaded granola bar—a “cookie” that will give you the energy you need and satisfy your sweet tooth without letting you down. The recipe below is from Chef Michelle Wohlfarth of the Healthy Living Kitchen (healthylivingkitchenpa.com). You’ll see that instead of chocolate chips, she uses cacao nibs, a pure form of chocolate that is rich in antioxidants and minerals like iron and magnesium, which enhances mental focus. Available in most health food stores, cacao nibs aren’t sweetened like regular chocolate chips.If after trying the recipe you still like your cookie a little sweeter, try using half cacao nibs and half organic chocolate chips as a compromise.
3 O’Clock Pick Me Up
Makes 24 “Cookies”
1 cup cacao nibs
1 cup raw cashews or almonds, soaked overnight (soaking optional)*
1 cup dried apricots, soaked for 2 hours (soaking optional)*
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups mixed dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, blueberries, raisins,)
3 tablespoons agave nectar or real maple syrup**
* Feel free to soak the nuts and dried fruit in filtered water or coconut water for a moister outcome.
Grind the nuts in a food processor first. Add oats and grind again until well blended. Add apricots, agave nectar or maple syrup, then add other fruit and blend just until there are still very small pieces.
Stir in the cacao nibs and/or organic chocolate chips.
Spoon onto a cookie sheet and then flatten. Put in the oven on the lowest setting to dry out for 4 hours.
** Pure maple syrup is high in minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. Agave nectar, extracted from the agave plant, ranks low on the Glycemic Index, meaning it won’t affect blood sugar levels like refined sugar.