A few months ago, I wrote a post on easy food switches you can make to be just a little bit healthier and today's post is a kind of add-on to that. Today we're talking about food that will boost your energy levels and power you up for the day - or week - ahead. Food is fuel, after all, and what you put into your body has to have some effect on how it performs.
Between working a full-time job, running three websites, commuting, working out, cooking, socialising and sleep (yes, I do sleep!!), I can't afford to get ill or not be on top form. One of my main goals for 2016 - and one that I'm sticking to - is to always put my health first so that I don't end up wasting a month in bed, like I did in December.
I've made some serious diet changes over the last few months to ensure I'm in the best shape possible and ready to take on whatever challenges are thrown my way, and I've noticed a HUGE difference in my energy levels and general approach to life. The hardest part is the mental commitment to change your habits; once the healthy food's in the cupboard, it's pretty easy to stick to it because you have no other option.
Here are a few of the products you'll always find in my kitchen now, all available at Holland and Barrett.
Does it seem like I'm raving about coconut oil all the freakin' time? Great! Because it's amazing! Coconut oil is such a wonder product with a whole heap of benefits, one of which is the MCTs it contains.
MCTs? Say what now?
MCTs, to people like you and me, are a type of fatty acid. You don't really need to understand the science-y stuff about how they work, but just know this: Unlike most saturated fats, MCTs are not stored and are instead used for an instant boost of energy. I love spreading a teaspoon of coconut oil on my toast at for breakfast or adding it to my coffee in the morning, especially if I have a busy day ahead of me.
Savoury Rice Cakes
I'm not a huge fan of rice cakes on their own, but add a dollop of peanut butter and I could munch away on them all day.
Peanut butter is a great source of protein (and one of the main ingredients in my protein smoothie recipe!) so I'm always looking for new ways to eat it that don't involve bread. Apples are my favourite accompaniment, but rice cakes also work well for a savoury afternoon snack that won't leave you with crazy cravings for the rest of the day!
Or, more specifically, the cashew cookie bar. I'm forever struggling to find snacks to take with me on the go because most are packed with sugar and other nasties, but nakd's snack bars are free from sugary syrups and artificial flavours. It's just protein-packed cashews and dates, so you can throw one in your bag and know you'll always have a healthy snack option to hand.
We all get the kind of cravings we wish we didn't from time to time, and my biggest ones are chocolate (obviously!) and crisps. It's been a fairly long time since I touched a bag of crisps, and having an equally tasty - yet healthy! - alternative available has made it easier than it otherwise would have been.
So many healthy substitutes just don't live up to the real thing, but these chips are delicious. Not only do they stop me munching on the foods that will zap my energy levels, they actually help maximise energy because they're made of quinoa.
Another one that's as much about keeping me away from a mid-afternoon sugar binge as it is about the food itself, chia seeds have become a must-have at both work and home. A single spoonful of these teeny little seeds can keep me full for hours.
The name 'chia' apparently means "strength" in the Mayan language, and the seeds were given their name because warriors used to eat a spoonful of chia seeds to give them the fuel they needed for long runs or battles. And if that doesn't convince you of their power, I don't know what will.
At the weekend, there's nothing better than a crispbread and smoked salmon breakfast to start the day.
This Norwegian bread releases energy slower than the highly processed bread you'll find in the supermarket bakery thanks to its high bran content. And it also goes well with... you guessed it: Peanut butter!
Bounce Energy Ball
I only discovered these recently but I love them so, so much!
Yet another coconut product - told you it was amazing, didn't I? - these little balls are another handy snack that can be carried around for moments of hunger. Unlike the nakd bars, though, I normally prefer to reserve these for post-workout recovery or an on-the-go snack when I have a super-packed schedule and need a little more energy than usual as they're really high in protein.
What do you like having on hand for the times when you need an energy boost? Have you tried any of these?
P.s. Here's a Pinnable image to save this post for later or share with your friends. For easy healthy recipes, check out my 'Healthy Body' section!