Homemade and Healthy Energy
Getting outside for a walk, hike, ski, bike, snowshoe, run, climb or whatever the activity of your fancy, is often put on the backburner when the winter months are especially dreary. However, as the days get a bit brighter, longer and warmer, I hope that everyone takes advantage of the extra moments to enjoy some fresh air. Fortunately I have squeezed in some time in the mountains to soak up some snow and sunshine, but the rigor of hiking ridgelines and skiing down has definitely asked more of my body than the short run or yoga class I have gotten in the habit of doing.
Fresh air, exercise and complete healthy exhaustion plasters an irreplaceable smile across my face and is a good way for everyone to keep their bodies strong, immune systems healthy and minds focused. The only problem is keeping enough fuel in the body to make it through the day and to nourish strength and renewal. I know first hand that, as hunger surges through my body, anything seems like good momentary satiation. Cookies, hot chocolate, candy, energy bars and sweet juices or Gatorade provide instant satisfaction but are not the best choice of nourishment and leave me clamoring for more only a few hours later.
Sugar filled foods marketed as energy bars and drinks provide quick results because sugar is burned quickly and creates instantaneous energy. However, sugar does not provide prolonged energy and sends the insulin system on a roller coaster ride in attempt to control the surge. Consistent use of sugar as an energy boost can be an unhealthy habit that deposits empty calories and can have negative effects on your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. Sugar doesn’t adequately replenish the nutrients lost during exertion and fails to re-fuel and nourish the active body. In addition, processed ingredients, preservatives and artificial flavorings are not the nourishment your body needs after a rigorous day.
Home made energy bars are a great alternative to store bought bars and can be healthier, tastier and made just the way you like it. Sugar can be replaced by honey, agave, fruit purees or nut butters. Add protein with nuts or quinoa. Dried fruits such as apricots, dates, cherries and raisins are packed with natural sugars and nutrients like potassium, iron and beta-carotene that fuel and nourish your body.
Here is one of my favorite recipes for you to try, or mix up a batch of your own and get your body outside for a day of fresh air, exercise and adventure. The dates in these conveniently bite sized treats are packed with potassium, which your muscles need during exercise to help maintain normal contraction and to balance potassium levels to keep blood pressure steady. Dates are also a great source of Iron, vitamin A and tons of healthy fiber. Paired with almonds for a bit of heart healthy fat and lots of protein as well as a dash of cardamom for an authentic sweet flavor, these little energy treats pack a healthy and delicious boost of energy anywhere and anytime.
Almond Cardamom Bites
1 cup toasted slivered
¼ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped dates
Zest of one orange
½ cup dried unsweetened coconut
Chop almonds into smaller pieces after toasting (don’t do this in a blender because they get too fine). In the bowl of a standing mixer, or by hand,mixthe almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, dates and orange peel. Mix until dates have softened and mixture is combined into a thick paste-like consistency. Form date mixture into ping pong ball sized rounds and roll in coconut (or press date mixture into a small baking pan and spread to a uniform ½ inch thickness and sprinkle with coconut). Enjoy immediately or wrap tightly and save for up to 10 days. Enjoy!