Happy National Nutrition Awareness Month!
Often, when life gets hectic, we forget about the basics. For students, work can quickly become overwhelming as it starts to pile up—this tends to happen around midterms and finals week.
One way that students often cope is by trying to cram as much studying and reviewing as possible into each and every day. But the danger here is that students may forget about their basic needs—including nourishing themselves with nutritious, energizing foods.
When considering how they can possibly be prepared for everything, sometimes students forget that, in order to work at their potential, they need to be prioritizing their health first.
Health and academic performance, indeed, are inextricably linked. When students fuel themselves with the right foods, they’ll be more equipped to study with a sharp focus—and will also be more capable of retaining the information they need to know.
It can be difficult to pinpoint which snacks are actually energizing—so we’ve listed some of our favorites below.
When I was growing up, I learned (from people around me) that yogurt parfaits were absolutely not healthy. So I pretty much avoided them—or, felt like I was doing myself a disservice when I did splurge. But, as I matured, I learned that you can make a healthy version of pretty much anything.
This healthy yogurt parfait recipe calls for plain yogurt, which, if you choose a somewhat healthy brand, can give you great energizing benefits, due to its high protein content. According to research, protein not only satisfies your hunger for longer than other food groups, but also helps keep your energy levels high.
Plus, you can choose to add all sorts of energy-boosting ingredients to your parfait. In the recipe below, you’ll add berries, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and nuts—all of which can help boost your energy.
Photo by Roman Odintsov from Pexels.
- 3 cups plain yogurt
- Healthiest brands recommended by dietitians: Chobani Nonfat Greek, Chobani Zero Sugar, FAGE Total 2% Greek, Siggi’s Nonfat, Siggi’s 2%, Two Good Low-Fat
- ½ cup berries of your choice
- 1½ tablespoon chopped dark chocolate
- 1½ tablespoons pumpkin seeds
- 1½ tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup chopped cashews
- Combine honey with yogurt.
- Fill a cup/jar with ⅓ cup of your yogurt.
- Layer yogurt and berries until you get to the top.
- Sprinkle on pumpkin seeds, chopped cashews, dark chocolate, and cinnamon.
*Note: Yogurt parfaits are a great snack to make ahead of time and store in the fridge, as they keep well in the refrigerator for ~2-3 days.
Green smoothie (that you won’t believe is spinach-based)
For a while, I stayed far away from green smoothies. To me, the idea of a green smoothie was ludicrous—is it a salad or smoothie?! Plus, I’m not usually one to opt for snacks that don’t taste good and are just there for the health benefits. But I decided to experiment.
And the result was that now I have an easy, go-to recipe that I can prepare so quickly! But the best, and most surprising part: it actually tastes…good. And not at all like a salad disguised as a smoothie.
While it has a spinach base, you’d never know it just by taking a sip.
Spinach contains high levels of iron, magnesium, and potassium—all of which are crucial for energy production.
It can’t really get better than that: healthy and yummy. Let’s get it.
Photo by Alex Lvrs from Unsplash.
- 1 tablespoon nut butter of your choice
- ½ – ¼ cup milk of your choice
- 1½ – 2 cups spinach
- ¼ – ½ banana
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract (honey also works)
- Fill a blender with spinach, milk, nut butter, vanilla extract, and banana. Blend.
- Add in ice and blend again.
*Note: when you blend initially, you may need to pause to mix the ingredients if they’re getting stuck.
If you think that you don’t like kale, you’re probably doing it wrong. Admittedly, kale screams ‘health’, which can be a bit intimidating if you aren’t that into greens. But with just a little bit of preparation, you can make kale into an incredible snack.
One of my favorite kale-based snacks is something I basically made up by experimenting with kale and other ingredients. I often find that when I just cook up a bunch of kale, it’s a little boring—and also, can be messy. With this recipe, the egg holds everything together, making it super easy to eat.
As noted above, eggs are a top-notch source of energy—and when you add in the black beans, you’re golden. Beans contain folic acid, iron, and magnesium, all of which help produce energy and deliver it to your body’s cells, according to Integris Health. And the base of this snack, kale, is another energizer. Kale contains a ton of vitamin C (more than OJ!), which helps make it an energizing source of nutrients.
In fact, a study from Arizona State University found that those who added vitamin C to their diet found exercise 10% easier than those who didn’t take vitamin C; the vitamin C-ers also reported a 55% drop in overall fatigue! Pretty promising.
Photo by Dan Gold from Burst.
- 3 cups kale
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup black beans
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ¼ cup cheddar cheese (optional)
- In a large pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic.
- Once the garlic begins to brown, add the kale and salt. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the egg and scramble until combined with the kale.
- Add the beans and cheese and let sit, covered, for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve immediately!
Elevated avocado toast
Avocado toast (AKA, “avo-toast”) has definitely become somewhat of a trend in the foodie world. And as an avocado lover, of course I had to dive in. It’s great. It really is!
Restaurants do this tasty snack really well—they prepare it so it looks all nice and pretty, which of course, makes it all the better. But I realized—it’s expensive! So instead of regularly splurging on $17 avocado toast, I learned how to make it myself. And you’d never believe how healthy this delicious recipe actually is.
Of course, avocado provides major health benefits—for students, one is particularly critical: avocados are high in healthy fats, which allow you to feel fuller for longer, and thus are a great energizing ingredient to add into the mix.
Additionally, this recipe calls for an egg atop your avocado spread, and eggs are an excellent source for energy. Eggs contain a whole bunch of nutrients that are important for energy production (including folate, riboflavin, thiamine, and B vitamins). And, they’re high in protein, which only contributes to their energizing properties.
*Note: if you’re not into eggs, you can substitute it for smoked salmon, which is another excellent source of protein—and incidentally goes so well on top of avocado.
Photo by David B. Townsend from Unsplash.
- 1 slice of whole-grain bread
- ⅓ avocado
- 1 egg
- Approximately ⅙ (you can estimate) red onion, chopped
- Pinch salt
- Pinch pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
- Pinch cilantro (optional)
- Slice up your avocado and red onion.
- In a pan, melt butter over medium-high heat and once the butter is melted, make your egg.
- Note: you can prepare your egg however you like! I’ve done this recipe with a poached egg, scrambled egg, and fried egg—all delish.
- While your egg is cooking, toast your bread.
- Once toasted, spread the avocado on the bread and top it off with onion, cilantro, and red pepper flakes.
- Place your egg on top and top it off with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and cilantro. Serve immediately.
It’s pretty easy to get confused about nutritional information when we have the internet in front of us with all sorts of contradicting statements and “facts”. Maybe you’ve heard that granola isn’t good for you, and that you should avoid it.
Well, whoops! Not entirely true. With the right ingredients, granola makes for a very healthy (and energizing) snack.
The thing is, when you buy granola off the shelf, there’s a good chance you’re buying something that’s dangerously high in sugar and fat. But that’s the thing about making it yourself—you know exactly what goes in.
Oats are incredibly nutritious. They are high in protein and quite literally loaded with important vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, copper, and folate (to name just a few!).
And, oats are a source of complex carbohydrates, which basically translate to long-lasting energy for your body.
On top of this, you can add even more energizing ingredients to your granola, making it a great snack to indulge on before a fat study session.
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pixels.
- 4 cups oats
- 1⅓ cups nuts and seeds
- I.e. almonds, pecans, walnuts; pepitas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup honey (or maple syrup!)
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup coconut oil (or olive oil)
- Preheat oven to 350º and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Chop up the nuts and combine them with the oats, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
- In a microwave safe bowl, heat up the coconut oil (10-15 seconds).
- Combine the melted coconut oil with the honey and vanilla extract.
- Drizzle the coconut oil mixture over the oats, and mix until well combined.
- Scoop the mixture onto your baking sheet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through to get rid of any clumps.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge or at room temperature; or place it in a sealed freezer bag and store in the freezer for 3-4 months.