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As the air turns crisp and the days get shorter, schedules get busier and life can sometimes feel like a juggling act. On busy days, eating properly is essential to your health and well being.

“A balanced diet is key to positively influencing energy levels and mood,” says registered dietitian Kristy Hogger.

Imagine your body as a luxury car and the food you eat as your fuel. Just as the type of fuel affects the performance of a car, the foods you eat can affect your mood, energy levels and even how well you function at work or school.

“The way we feel is certainly influenced by what we eat,” says Hogger. “Our food choices can help us feel better or worse.”

If you’re feeling sluggish, try adding more energy-boosting foods to your diet. Hogger offers these tasty options to get you started.


Eggs

Eggs are an excellent source of protein and a source of iron, folate and vitamin E (6 g of  protein, 0.7 mg iron, 36 mcg of folate, 1.2 mg of vitamin E per 50 g serving).

“The protein in eggs contains all nine essential amino acids necessary for building and repairing muscle tissue,” says Hogger.

Get cracking with Devilled Eggs with Chives. Chives lend subtle onion flavour and crunch to the familiar staple.

“One serving provides 6 g of protein, as well as the other nutritional benefits of eggs,” says Hogger.

Chorizo & Sweet Potato Frittata spices up eggs with cured hot sausage, cheddar cheese and cubed sweet potato.

“A frittata is great for breakfast or brunch,” says Hogger. “In addition to the eggs providing protein, the sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A.”

For snacks, slice any leftover frittata into bite-sized cubes and place in a portable container, skewering each piece onto a toothpick. Tip: Use omega-3 eggs, which have some different nutritional benefits.


Greens

Greens don’t just taste great — they are part of your healthy lifestyle. Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends including at least one serving of dark green vegetables each day.  Also some research suggests there’s a link between depression and low levels of folate, a B vitamin also known as folic acid. Foods like spinach are an excellent source folate (125 mcg per 65 g serving).

Getting your greens can be easy. Start by adding more spinach, broccoli and romaine lettuce to your diet. Add texture to sandwiches with a layer of crisp romaine, or boost your everyday salad by tossing in some tender spinach.

Here are some tasty recipes featuring greens:


Pumpkin Seeds

Whether tossed into trail mix or eaten on their own, pumpkin seeds can give your body a boost.

“Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral for bone health and helps keep muscles and nerves healthy,” says Hogger.

One-quarter cup of roasted pumpkin seeds provides 9 g of protein and 4 g of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. This amount also provides one serving of meat and alternatives from Canada’s Food Guide.

Craving a sweet treat? Get your fix from a slice of Zucchini Loaf with Walnuts & Pumpkin Seeds.

“The nuts and seeds offer heart-healthy fats, including monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids,” says Hogger. “And the whole wheat flour contributes fibre.”

Or make a batch of No Cook Fruit & Oat Bars . Studded with pumpkin seeds, it’s a homemade grab-and-go snack that will last all week.

“These bars are a source of omega-3 fatty acids from the chia seeds and a good source of magnesium from the pumpkin seeds,” says Hogger.


Nuts

Nuts are packed with flavour and great for munching by the handful or tossing into a variety of dishes. But here’s another big bonus: nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts may also enhance mood.

“One study found that people who consumed ¼ cup (60 mL) of mixed nuts per day had higher levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate mood, compared to those who avoided nuts,” says Hogger.

Nuts also make a great portable snack — perfect for stashing in your bag for grazing on the go. And we love the crunchy texture they add to entrées and desserts. Enjoy walnuts in our Spiced Apple Salad with Granola or bake our easy Pumpkin, Cranberry & Pecan Loaf.

The sweet, buttery taste of hazelnuts can perk up salads and mains, while almonds add a satisfying crunch to many dishes. Try almonds in our recipes for Cheese & Broccoli Topped Chicken and Apple-Raspberry Crisp, or try hazelnuts in our Harvest Vegetable Crumble.


Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate may have a positive effect on mood, as suggested by some studies. And while more research is required, it contains phytochemicals, like flavonoids. More flavonoids means darker chocolate and potentially greater health benefits.

“A small amount eaten regularly can help reduce the risk of heart attack, lower blood pressure, improve good cholesterol and increase blood flow,” says Hogger.

Be mindful of serving sizes and the type of chocolate you buy. “Choose high-quality dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa, which has more flavonoids than milk chocolate,” says Hogger. “And limit portion size to avoid overindulging in sugar and calories.” A serving of 30 g (1 oz) is enough to offer antioxidant benefits.

Stash Chocolate & Cherry Granola Bars in your bag in case hunger strikes on the road.

“Delicious pecans, almonds and dark chocolate have flavonoid antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and fibre,” says Hogger.

Or throw dark chocolate chunks into the delicious Popcorn, Fruit & Nut Trail Mix.

“The nuts, seeds and popcorn provide carbohydrate, protein and fibre to give you energy,” says Hogger. “And the added benefit of antioxidants from dark chocolate makes this a winning recipe!”


Fish

Fresh, flaky and delicate fish is a tasty and affordable solution, whether for a weeknight or special occasion. “We are also starting to understand that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in some kinds of fish, may help improve mood and relieve symptoms of depression,” says Hogger.  Boost your intake by adding salmon, mackerel and sardines to your diet.

Whether you’re pan-frying, roasting or baking fish, it’s a versatile protein that cooks quickly. Learn more about types of fish here, and get inspired by these recipes:

  • Eggs

    Eggs are an excellent source of protein and a source of iron, folate and vitamin E (6 g of  protein, 0.7 mg iron, 36 mcg of folate, 1.2 mg of vitamin E per 50 g serving).

    “The protein in eggs contains all nine essential amino acids necessary for building and repairing muscle tissue,” says Hogger.

    Get cracking with Devilled Eggs with Chives. Chives lend subtle onion flavour and crunch to the familiar staple.

    “One serving provides 6 g of protein, as well as the other nutritional benefits of eggs,” says Hogger.

    Chorizo & Sweet Potato Frittata spices up eggs with cured hot sausage, cheddar cheese and cubed sweet potato.

    “A frittata is great for breakfast or brunch,” says Hogger. “In addition to the eggs providing protein, the sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A.”

    For snacks, slice any leftover frittata into bite-sized cubes and place in a portable container, skewering each piece onto a toothpick. Tip: Use omega-3 eggs, which have some different nutritional benefits.


    Greens

    Greens don’t just taste great — they are part of your healthy lifestyle. Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide recommends including at least one serving of dark green vegetables each day.  Also some research suggests there’s a link between depression and low levels of folate, a B vitamin also known as folic acid. Foods like spinach are an excellent source folate (125 mcg per 65 g serving).

    Getting your greens can be easy. Start by adding more spinach, broccoli and romaine lettuce to your diet. Add texture to sandwiches with a layer of crisp romaine, or boost your everyday salad by tossing in some tender spinach.

    Here are some tasty recipes featuring greens:


    Pumpkin Seeds

    Whether tossed into trail mix or eaten on their own, pumpkin seeds can give your body a boost.

    “Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, which is an important mineral for bone health and helps keep muscles and nerves healthy,” says Hogger.

    One-quarter cup of roasted pumpkin seeds provides 9 g of protein and 4 g of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. This amount also provides one serving of meat and alternatives from Canada’s Food Guide.

    Craving a sweet treat? Get your fix from a slice of Zucchini Loaf with Walnuts & Pumpkin Seeds.

    “The nuts and seeds offer heart-healthy fats, including monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids,” says Hogger. “And the whole wheat flour contributes fibre.”

    Or make a batch of No Cook Fruit & Oat Bars . Studded with pumpkin seeds, it’s a homemade grab-and-go snack that will last all week.

    “These bars are a source of omega-3 fatty acids from the chia seeds and a good source of magnesium from the pumpkin seeds,” says Hogger.


    Nuts

    Nuts are packed with flavour and great for munching by the handful or tossing into a variety of dishes. But here’s another big bonus: nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts may also enhance mood.

    “One study found that people who consumed ¼ cup (60 mL) of mixed nuts per day had higher levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate mood, compared to those who avoided nuts,” says Hogger.

    Nuts also make a great portable snack — perfect for stashing in your bag for grazing on the go. And we love the crunchy texture they add to entrées and desserts. Enjoy walnuts in our Spiced Apple Salad with Granola or bake our easy Pumpkin, Cranberry & Pecan Loaf.

    The sweet, buttery taste of hazelnuts can perk up salads and mains, while almonds add a satisfying crunch to many dishes. Try almonds in our recipes for Cheese & Broccoli Topped Chicken and Apple-Raspberry Crisp, or try hazelnuts in our Harvest Vegetable Crumble.


    Dark Chocolate

    Dark chocolate may have a positive effect on mood, as suggested by some studies. And while more research is required, it contains phytochemicals, like flavonoids. More flavonoids means darker chocolate and potentially greater health benefits.

    “A small amount eaten regularly can help reduce the risk of heart attack, lower blood pressure, improve good cholesterol and increase blood flow,” says Hogger.

    Be mindful of serving sizes and the type of chocolate you buy. “Choose high-quality dark chocolate that’s at least 70% cocoa, which has more flavonoids than milk chocolate,” says Hogger. “And limit portion size to avoid overindulging in sugar and calories.” A serving of 30 g (1 oz) is enough to offer antioxidant benefits.

    Stash Chocolate & Cherry Granola Bars in your bag in case hunger strikes on the road.

    “Delicious pecans, almonds and dark chocolate have flavonoid antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and fibre,” says Hogger.

    Or throw dark chocolate chunks into the delicious Popcorn, Fruit & Nut Trail Mix.

    “The nuts, seeds and popcorn provide carbohydrate, protein and fibre to give you energy,” says Hogger. “And the added benefit of antioxidants from dark chocolate makes this a winning recipe!”


    Fish

    Fresh, flaky and delicate fish is a tasty and affordable solution, whether for a weeknight or special occasion. “We are also starting to understand that omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in some kinds of fish, may help improve mood and relieve symptoms of depression,” says Hogger.  Boost your intake by adding salmon, mackerel and sardines to your diet.

    Whether you’re pan-frying, roasting or baking fish, it’s a versatile protein that cooks quickly. Learn more about types of fish here, and get inspired by these recipes:

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