Eat These Foods to Boost Your Mood!

Throughout each day your mood will be influenced by many different things. These can, of course, be both positive and negative and will affect the way you feel during each day. As well as your interactions with other people and your environment, the food that you consume will play a role in influencing your mood.

People who consume processed or sugary foods regularly are likely to find that they experience a low mood or even depression. This can be because these foods wreak havoc with our blood sugar levels which causes a fluctuation in energy levels. This can quickly lead to irritability and fatigue which will make even the happiest of people quite grumpy! Making healthy, positive changes to your diet across the whole is a great way to keep your mood steady but you can also try including certain superfoods for a quick boost!

Raw cacao powder is one of these foods and I would suggest you include a serving in your diet every day, especially if you are already struggling with a low mood. Cacao has a seriously impressive range of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals within and is responsible for the perception people have of chocolate improving your mood. However, with processed chocolate products you also get an unhealthy dose of additives and other chemicals which can disrupt your hormones and actually be of detriment to your mood! Stick to raw, unprocessed cacao powder and you will soon see the benefits!

Chilli is another fantastic ingredient you can use to bring a dose of happiness to your day. Studies have shown that when we consume chilli, in any form, it increases the presence of endorphins in the brain which in turn gives us a pleasurable feeling! It is so easy to scatter just a pinch on your lunch and dinner, alternatively you can choose a delicious chilli sauce!

As you will know if you read my blog frequently, I am an advocate of the amazing health benefits of coconut oil and when it comes to your happiness this is especially true! The composition of healthy fats in coconut oil, as well as coconut milk and other coconut products, boosts your brain health. A healthy brain leads to a healthy mind and I would suggest consuming it in moderation regularly!

Most importantly of all, be sure that the majority of the food that you eat is real, wholesome, plant-based food! Don’t sabotage your mood with rubbish that is going to weigh your body down and disrupt your happiness!

For more top tips on how nutrition is essential for a healthy body and mind, check out The Flexi Foodie Academy!

Cinnamon Chocolate Cake with Goji Berries

As the Christmas season gets ever closer, the temptation of sweet treats becomes greater and we can often be easily persuaded to abandon our usual healthy diets with the justification of the festivities. However, Christmas doesn’t have to be a reason to over-indulge in sugary snacks and desserts as there is a massive variety of healthy treats available also. If you’re having guests over then serving up this chocolate cake will prove exactly that! Not only is it made with an abundance of natural ingredients but it also includes one of my all time health favourites – goji berries! These tiny berries are great for our bodies and also add an extra twist of flavour to an already delicious cake!

Cacao is another health weapon in this cake. As you may know, cacao is the natural unrefined compound that is used to make chocolate. This means it  has the mood enhancing properties of chocolate but is actually fantastic for health as the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals haven’t been lost to processing.

So to make this cake for yourself, grab the following ingredients:

chocolate_goji_cake1 and 1/4 cups of oat flour
1/2 cup of spelt flour
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 cup of almond butter
1 cup of almond milk
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of goji berries
1/2 cup of cacao powder
1/2 cup of honey
1/4 cup of coconut butter – softened
1/3 cup of coconut oil melted

chocolate_goji_cake2This is an incredibly quick and easy recipe to make once you have gathered the ingredients. To begin, pre-heat your oven to 180C / 350F and then mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and stir until you have a smooth mixture. You can then pour the mixture into a greased 9 inch cake tin and place this in the oven for between 20 and 25 minutes.

After this time is up, remove from the oven and slide out of the cake tin. Leave for a few moments to cool and then enjoy!

Raw Chocolate Brownie with Goji Berries

I’m always looking for ways to get the Super Hero foods into my kids diets and this recipe has come out on top!  All four of my kids love chocolate and there are some GREAT raw chocolate bars out on the market now – but with four kids, I can’t keep up with their demand and rushing out to Whole Foods all of the time!  So, I whipped this up over the weekend and as I type this on Sunday – they’ve all been greedily consumed!  I think this is going to be a household staple.  And the good news….. it’s SO easy to make!

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But the other goodie about this recipe is that it’s NOT made with refined sugar but instead made with the whole foods, a natural sweetener called DATES!  Fresh dates are composed of soft, easily digestible flesh and simple sugars like fructose and dextrose. When eaten, they replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly.  Dates are also rich in dietary fibre, which prevents LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut.  Additionally, the fibre works as a bulk laxative whereby helping to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.

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Dates contain health benefiting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins. Tannins are known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic (prevent easy bleeding tendencies) properties.  They are also an excellent source of IRON!  Yes, iron… can you believe it?!  And potassium is right up there as well as calcium, manganese, copper and magnesium.

So you can see, I’d much rather have my kids eat dates than refined sugar (which BTW has NO nutritional value whatsoever…..)

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So grab these ingredients if you don’t already have them!

Serves 16

2 cups walnuts

2 cups pitted dates (medjool best)

1/2 cup raw cacao powder

1/4 cup carob powder

1/4 cup goji berries

1TBSP coconut oil

1 cup almonds, chopped

1 TBSP coconut palm nectar, agave or maple syrup

sprinkling of sea salt or pink himalayan

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In  your food processor, pulse the walnuts until nicely ground.  Then add the salt, cacao, carob and continue to mix in the food processor.  While the food processor is on, add the dates one by one until you get a nice paste.  Once you get this lovely paste, add in your sweetener (coconut palm nectar, agave or maple syrup)  and the coconut oil.  Remove the paste into a mixing bowl and using your hands (much easier than a wooden spoon) mix in the chopped almonds and the goji berries.

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Place the mixture in either a 8×8 or 9×13 baking tin lined with parchment paper and press the mixture down so that it won’t fall apart.  Finally place in freezer for 30 minutes.  Once the 30 minutes are up, cut into squares and then try not to eat the entire batch!

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Rose Chocolate Truffles

Let’s face it, the reality is that 3 out of my 4 kids are boys.  And boys are like dogs: they need to be walked at least three times a day!  2 of my boys are WAY into their sports – from rugby to football to cricket and then there’s our frosting on the cake, Nestor, who is 6 and the baby of the family.  When asked what he wants to be when he’s older…. he proudly replies:  ‘David Attenborough.’  So, in order to keep up with these active sportsmen and an explorer-to-be, I’ve got to fuel them with some REAL energy, some REAL foods, some NON-chemical, NON-pacakged, NON-processed foods.  So the gist of the recipe was created for my boys…. but then I do have ONE girl and I needed to include something a bit girlie, right?  And that’s where the Rose Water came in and so in all fairness, these power truffles are 3/4 boys and 1/4 girl.  I think I managed to please everyone in the family with this one……. now that’s a first!

ImageGrab yourself these cool ingredients: For 16 truffles (4 for each child if you have 4 kids!)

20 dates, de-stoned

2 Tbsp. coconut butter or oil

2 Tbsp. cacao powder

3/4 tsp. carob powder

2 tsp. lucuma

2 Tbsp. chia seeds

and the final ingredient:  1 tsp. rose water (so amazing)

You will also need Goji Berry powder, Blueberry powder and ground almonds for dusting.  The flowers in the photos are optional, but highly recommended if you have a girl!

ImageTake all ingredients and either blend in your high speed blender or simply just use your food processor to create a gorgeous paste.  Scrape out as much paste as you can into a bowl and use about a heaped teaspoon per truffle – roll in your hands to create a lovely, round ball.

ImageNext, roll those amazing truffles in some goji berry powder, blueberry powder or ground almonds.

ImageAnd Voila!  Takes no time at all to appease everyone in the family, including yourself!  If you’re having a dinner party, these are great incredibly healthy ‘after-dinner’ treats with some fresh mint tea!  These deliciOSO treats have NO refined sugar.  I used my favourite sugar replacement…. Dates…. instead.  Here are my FOUR top facts about amazing dates.

  1. Dates are free from cholesterol and contain very low fat and are also rich in vitamins and minerals.
  1. They are a rich source of protein, dietary fiber and rich in vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B5 along with vitamin A1 and C.
  1. Dates help improve the digestive system as it contains soluble and insoluble fibers and different kinds of amino acids.
  1. Dates are great energy boosters as they contain natural sugars like glucose, sucrose and fructose.

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Julie’s SUPERnut Butter Cups

Okay, so when I was younger, my hands down favourite treat was Reese’s peanut butter cup! If you’re not American, you may not know about these treats! But trust me, they are SOOOOOO good! Back then we didn’t know about the ‘badness’ of high fructose corn syrup, however as an American we did know how yummy the combination of peanut butter and chocolate is! I want my four kids to taste a seriously yummy butter nut cup too but perhaps not a Reese’s one……..So, I came up with a healthy, but to me, even MORE delicious alternative and I can tell you that these were a hit with all of them. My youngest is already asking if I can make them for his birthday party (which isn’t until October but I’ll keep it in mind)!

Let’s start with the chocolate sauce which frankly, can be used on pancakes, ice cream and strawberries! So keep this at hand.

julies_supernut_buttercups_grassrootsandgrainsIngredients:

200g of cacao butter
10 – 12 tbsp. of raw cacao powder
4 tbsp. of coconut nectar (or agave or raw honey)
4 tsp. of lucuma
1 and a 1/2 tbsp. of carob powder
1 tsp. of maca
1/4 tsp. of pink himalayan sea salt

Almond butter filling:

1/2 cup almond butter (I used white almond butter and it was delicious too!)
1 Tbsp. coconut nectar (or raw honey or agave)
1 Tbsp. lucuma powder
1/4 tsp. pink himalayan sea salt

julies_supernut_buttercups_grassrootsandgrains (2)In a saucepan, melt the cacao butter over low to medium heat or use a double boiler. Fold in the rest of the ingredients. Next, line your cupcake tray with paper cups and spoon in enough chocolate sauce to cover the bottom. Place in the fridge until the sauce is solidified; this should usually take about 15 minutes.

julies_supernut_buttercups_grassrootsandgrains (3)For the Almond butter filling, combine all of the ingredients together so that it eventually looks like cookie dough. Then, get a good heaped teaspoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Using your hands, flatten to just less than the diameter of the base of the cups. Now you can add these almond nut butter saucer shapes to the cups and spoon the remainder of the chocolate sauce over the top, covering them completely.

julies_supernut_buttercups_grassrootsandgrains (4)Finally, place in the fridge for a good hour and presto! You can then remove the paper cups and store in a sealed container in the fridge. Although, if you’re anything like me, they won’t be in the fridge for very long!

julies_supernut_buttercups_grassrootsandgrains (5)These tasty treats taste even better than the store bought alternatives and will provide your body with a wealth of goodness. For example, instead of being crammed with sugar, they are sweetened with lucuma and coconut nectar. As you may remember from previous recipes, lucuma is made from a Peruvian plant and is completely natural. As well as being great as a sweetener, it is a good source of fibre, beta-carotene, niacin, iron and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals. Similarly, coconut nectar is free from gluten and fat and is the perfect low glycemic sweetener!

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Chocolate and Salt

There aren’t many foods that I would say I absolutely could not live without, but these two might just make the cut! I try to include both of these amazingly nutritious ingredients in both mine and my kids diets every day and with a bit of imagination, it’s not a difficult task at all!

Himalayan Sea Salt

Making the decision to use Himalayan sea salt in your cooking, as opposed to regular table salt, is a great decision for your overall well-being. As we already know, consuming too much salt means bad things for the body. It can easily cause high blood pressure and place strain on your organs which can then lead to a stroke, a heart attack or even kidney disease. Eating less salt is generally a great idea but using an alternative that provides all the minerals and nutrients that regular salt is lacking is an even better one!

Himalayan sea salt contains the full spectrum of 84 minerals and is totally unprocessed and unrefined. It comes from salt caves that came to be over 250 million years ago when salt from the ocean was deposited on land.

Because Himalayan sea salt is millions of years old, it doesn’t contain many of the present day impurities and toxins that the ordinary kind can be polluted with. The many health benefits of incorporating this type of salt into your diet include controlling your water levels, providing your cells with a consistent pH balance, maintaining optimum blood sugar levels and even slowing down the visible aspects of the ageing process. It is also thought that it is great for your respiratory and vascular health and can reduce your chance of suffering with sinus problems. On top of all of these fantastic factors it could also help to ease muscle cramps, increase the strength of your bones and encourage a normal sleeping pattern.

Eating Himalayan sea salt isn’t the only way to take advantage of its many health benefits. Adding a couple of hundred grams to a bath is also said to aid detoxification and will not only relax your muscles but will also rejuvenate your skin. This is a very calming way to eradicate toxins from your body and will leave you feeling refreshed.

Many doctors and health food professionals suggest that this kind of salt is the best option and it’s a great idea to use it in place of the regular brands that you’re used to. You’ll soon see the difference for yourself!

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Raw Cacao

Cacao beans come from a tree that is native to the West Indies and South America. The taste of raw cacao is typically described as nutty and slightly bitter, causing some people to include a natural sweetener, like agave nectar, when they consume it. There is absolutely no cholesterol or trans-fats in the beans but there is an impressive amount of fibre and protein.

Raw cacao does several things to the body to truly earn its title as a super-food. The high antioxidant count is great for eliminating rogue free radicals in the body which are known to cause certain types of cancer and age the skin. Cacao also improves blood flow which in turn helps stimulate the process of healing cells and reducing stress inducing hormones.

Cacao is a rich source of magnesium and sulphur, making it great for improved focus and for combating fatigue. It also contains phenylethylamine, which chocolate fanatics may already know is the compound that is often referred to as ‘the love drug’. Phenylethylamine is thought to be useful in treating depression as it aids the release of endorphins. Similarly, cacao encourages extended anandamide presence in the brain which can also create feelings of happiness.

Raw cacao is excellent for including in a wide range of recipes and will increase the nutritional value of any dish. It’s not just great for food but can also be used in powder form in drinks like hot chocolate and smoothies. Mixing even a small amount into a smoothie will increase the nutritional value and compliment the existing flavour!

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