Earlier this week, we talked about the health benefits of play. Whether your idea of play is an adrenaline-pumping day hike with friends, or a more relaxed game night, it’s important to fuel your play. The recipes below are chockful of immunity-boosting ingredients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and are also crowd-pleasing snacks that will give you energy for your favorite playtime rituals.
1. No-Bake Chocolate Energy Balls
Satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy, guilt-free way. These energy balls taste sinfully sweet, yet their decadence comes from healthy dates (a potent source of iron) and delightful seasonings like cinnamon and vanilla. Beyond just tasting great, these spices have natural immunity-boosting properties and also help to combat chronic inflammation.
And while these treats might seem like a dessert, they’re easy to pack and a great way to fuel up when you’re on the go. Coconut and coconut oil add healthy fats, while ground flax, nut butter and nuts provide a big boost of protein and fiber.
1 cup whole rolled oats
1 tbsp ground flaxseed (premixed with 3 tbsp water)
1/4 cup roasted nut butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 soft Medjool dates, pitted
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup chocolate chips
In a frying pan, roast the rolled oats for a couple of minutes.
Add the flaxseed mixture, nut butter, dates, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon and salt to a blender. Blend until creamy, then add the walnuts, dried coconut, roasted oats, and chocolate chips. Pulse for a minute or two to combine everything thoroughly.
Empty the blender. Grab a handful of “dough” and roll it into a ball. Repeat until you have a dozen energy balls. Place in your fridge for 1 hour or longer and enjoy!
2. Red Lentil Hummus
Hummus is always a crowd-pleaser, whether you’ve set out an elaborate spread or you’ve packed a Tupperware in your hiking backpack. But forget the traditional, grocery store stuff. This healthy recipe elevates hummus to another level and reinvents it with a switch to red lentils instead of chickpeas.
Lentils have been studied extensively for their positive effects on your gut health. A healthy gut is strongly linked to a strong immune system, improved hormone balance, and even enhanced cognitive and mental health. Lentils are also a powerhouse of nutrition, with a cup of cooked lentils offering you a high dose of protein, fiber, and immune-critical vitamins and minerals like thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, magnesium, zinc and copper.
1 cup dried red lentils
¼ cup tahini
Juice from one lemon (approximately 3-4 tbsp)
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp sea salt
Boil a pot of water and simmer the lentils for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Drain and let it cool.
Add the lentils and all the other ingredients to a blender. Blend until creamy.
Enjoy with sliced veggies, crackers, or as a spread on a hearty sourdough bread.
3. Easy Tropical Mango Salsa
Who needs generic store-bought salsa when you can whip up this tropical delight at home? It’s bursting with all the flavors of the summer season, plus something special: mangiferin, catechins, anthocyanins, quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and benzoic acid. These are highly potent antioxidants found in mango fruit, which may help to power-up your immune system, reduce free radical damage, and reduce your risks of numerous diseases.
Plus, a single cup of mango provides approximately 75% of your daily vitamin C needs, and 10% of your daily vitamin A needs. Both vitamin A and vitamin C are closely linked with a strong immune system.
2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 red onion, minced
1 cucumber, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, minced
Juice from one lemon
1/2 tsp salt
Toss all the ingredients in a bowl. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then enjoy. This makes a perfect salsa for dipping chips. You can also use it as a garnish or topping for breads, fish and meat.
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