At this point in the year I start to lose my enthusiasm for my New Year’s resolutions. My energy fades. Fortunately, there are foods I can turn to that will help me. What a relief! And I’m not just talking about caffeinated beverages. They will boost my energy for a short time, but I’m looking for a long-term solution. I want foods that will stimulate my metabolism, help me build muscle, and help me grow new red blood cells.
The catechins in green and black tea can raise your metabolism, so even if you drink decaf tea, you will get the benefit of increased energy. Protein, found in meat, fish and beans, builds muscle tissue and makes red blood cells. And there is a long list of nutrients that produce energy within cells: copper, magnesium, phosphorous, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
Copper is a mineral prevalent in buckwheat, shellfish, nuts, liver, red meat, poultry, eggs, beans, and dark green leafy veggies. According to the Natural News website, “Copper is also used in the production of energy in what is known as the Krebs energy cycle. Imbalances of copper in the electron transport system will produce fatigue and even depression in individuals.”
Magnesium is found in tea, green leafy veggies, nuts, whole grains, soy, and seafood. A study by the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) provides important findings on the effects of depleted body magnesium levels on energy metabolism: Their researchers noted that “inadequate magnesium is associated with a need for increased oxygen during exercise. They found that during moderate activity, those with low magnesium levels in muscle are likely to use more energy—and therefore to tire more quickly—than those with adequate levels.”
Foods that contain phosphorous include red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. According to the Livestrong Foundation, phosphorous “is required for energy production and storage, helping your body change protein, fat and carbohydrate into energy.”
Riboflavin shows up in broccoli, buckwheat, dairy, eggs, red meat, and spinach. This micronutrient plays a key role in energy metabolism and in the metabolism of fats, ketone bodies, carbohydrates, and proteins. There’s vitamin B6 in flour, legumes (like peanuts and lentils), and potatoes. The primary role of vitamin B6 is to act as a coenzyme to many other enzymes in the body that are involved in metabolism. Vitamin B12 appears in dairy, red meat, poultry, fish, and sea buckthorn berries, a.k.a. golden berries, and is involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body.
These energy-boosting FoodTrients are found in many of the same foods. That makes it easy to plan a menu around the need for increased energy. Combine fish with whole grains like I did in my Seafood with Wild Rice recipe. I have a new Asian Fusion Shrimp with Quinoa recipe that fits the energy bill, too, that is coming in my new cookbook this fall. My Meatloaf with Flaxseeds recipe is another good one to use when you’re feeling depleted. That’s because the combination of meat with nuts and seeds is very helpful for restoring needed nutrients to your body. Other good food combinations for getting your vigor back are poultry and beans, nuts and dairy products. So a chicken stew with cannellini beans would do wonders for your vitality. If you’re a vegetarian, whip up a pesto sauce and stir in plenty of Parmesan cheese and/or cream. My recipe for Spiced Nuts (see below) will help you gain momentum in the afternoon, especially when eaten with a cup of tea. Enjoy my recipes and may the force of nature be with you!
All tree nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids, an anti-inflammatory compound that aids skin elasticity, aids skin hydration, lowers triglycerides, regulates heart rhythm, lowers stroke risk, lowers dementia risk, aids memory; aids circulation, and stabilizes blood sugar. You can use any variety of nut that you enjoy. Increase the amount of cayenne pepper for more heat or leave it out altogether and use chili powder instead for a milder taste. The nuts can be roasted prior to using them in this recipe. Omit the salt if you’re using salted nuts.
1 cup almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
2 Tbsp. FoodTrients Dessert Spice Mix (see recipe below)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder or cayenne pepper
2 egg whites, beaten
1. Toss nuts, sugar, and spices together in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed.
2. Fold egg whites into nuts and mix until nuts are well coated.
3. Spread nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees for about an hour, stirring nuts every 20 minutes. Nuts will be crispy once cooled.
Yields 12 ounces of spiced nuts
FoodTrients Dessert Spice Mix
1 tsp. ground cardamom (brown, not green)
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tsp. instant coffee (decaf is fine)
8 tsp. cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1. Place all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.
Yields 1/3 cup of spice mix