My cousin is currently studying for her NCLEX exam to become a registered nurse, and I can slowly feel her tension and stress rising ! I really wanted to create for her a study snack that is not only delicious and nourishing, but also made from ingredients with properties known to benefit the brain. I decided I would share the recipe I came up with, and reasons as to why I included each ingredient.
Chia Seeds: Rich in antioxidants, fiber, protein, and essential fatty acids, particularly Omega-3’s. Essential fatty acids are known to make cell membranes more flexible and efficient to allow for nutrients to be more readily available, for nerve transmission to increase in efficiency, and ultimately for improvement of brain function.
Blueberries: Berries have been studied to aid in the improvement and enhancement of memory. Blueberries are an amazing source of antioxidants and phytonutrients, and will actually increase your learning capacity while at the same time aiding in the regulation of stress.
Walnuts: Loaded with protein, polyunsaturated fats to reduce cholesterol and protect the heart, omega-3s and polyphenols. Plus they contain antioxidants that may counteract age-related cognitive decline.
Almonds: Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, nutrients that have been shown to boost brain activity and potentially even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Sunflower Seeds: Not only are they packed with protein, but sunflower seeds are also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats that are critical to brain function and overall health.
Cacao Nibs: In it’s raw form, cacao contains a number of essential vitamins and minerals that boost neurotransmitters, as well as phyto-chemicals that activate “euphoria” to elevate our mood.
Spinach: High in brain-friendly folate, B vitamins, L-tyrosine and fiber. It contains a perfect combination of nutrients to help improve neurotransmitter function and guard against the chronic inflammation that may lead to memory loss.
Spirulina: Cyanobacterium that may provide resistance to the oxidative aspect of microglial cell activation, which is thought to be a major component in the development of degenerative brain disease.
Bananas: Bananas help the brain function at its best. They supply potassium to our body (and the brain), which maintains out oxygen levels and strong signals between cells. They are also said to stimulate serotonin production, as they contain tryptophan, which elevates your mood and keeps your mind stable and bright!
Cinnamon: An ingredient great for our aging brains! Simple smelling cinnamon can boost cognitive processing and overall brain function. Cinnamon is also a great anti-inflammatory agent.
Medjool Dates: These teeny bites of caramel-y goodness are jam packed with minerals, vitamins, and health-benefiting phytonutrients. They are said to aid in controlling heart rate and blood pressure, are loaded with dietary fiber, and help prevent LDL cholesterol absorption. They also contain vitamins A, K, B6 as well as copper, magnesium, manganese, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin…need I say more?
- ½ cup almonds
- ½ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- A little less than ¼ cup spinach (loosely packed)
- ⅛ to ¼ tsp spirulina powder
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- ⅔ small banana, chopped
- ¼ cup + 1 tbsp dried blueberries
- 4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 tbsp cacao nibs
- Line a medium sized baking sheet or plate with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Pulse all of the ingredients up to the spirulina in a food processor until a uniform "chunky" consistency is reached. Do not over process, for it will start to release fats and become butter.
- Add the banana, blueberries and dates and process until a dough is formed. Toss in the cacao nibs and pulse until mixed through.
- Scoop heaping tablespoon sized balls and roll them in the palm of your hand until balls form. Add desired toppings of choice, such as a nut or shredded coconut.
- Arrange them on the lined sheet, and place them in the freezer to set for at least one hour.
- These will store in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for a two months.