One of the most important things I’ve learned while holistically navigating a life with mental illness is that food is medicine. Granola is a great healthy snack to satisfy a sweet craving without preservatives, artificial flavors or high processing; all of which are no good for taking on mental health. This recipe is packed with foods and spices to help nourish your mind and balance your mood. Grab a handful as a snack, use it as a topping for Greek yogurt or smoothie bowls. It’s even fantastic as a cereal alternative. Before we get into the recipe let’s breakdown the benefits of our star ingredients.
Goji Berries: Increased Feelings of Wellbeing, Improves mood, Helps Combat Depression, High in Antioxidants, Increased Energy, Improves Sleep
Pumpkin Seeds: Potassium rich foods like pumpkin seeds help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. They are also a great source of zinc. Recent studies show that a deficiency in zinc can negatively affect your mood. The largest areas in the body to store zinc are the regions of the brain involved with emotions.
Pecans: High in omega 3 fatty acid which helps to reduce tension in the brain, anxiety, stress and headaches.
Ginger: High in antioxidants and holds anti-inflammatory properties to reduce chronic inflammation in the brain. It has been linked to increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine in the the brain. Depression is strongly linked to low levels of both hormones.
Cinnamon: Used in ancient Egyptian times to combat a host of illnesses, it’s know to boost cognitive performance by it’s scent alone. Especially helpful in combating stress and anxiety due to it’s ability to regulate blood sugar.
Honey: Studies suggest that honey might offer antidepressant, anticonvulsant and anti-anxiety benefits. In some studies, honey has been shown to help prevent memory disorders.
Dark Chocolate: Eating dark chocolate can help reduce anxiety and improve symptoms of clinical depression. People who ate dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods had 70% reduced odds of reporting depressive symptoms than those who did not eat chocolate. Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a neuromodulator implicated in mood regulation. Read the full study here.
Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oats, maple syrup, honey, ginger, cinnamon, pecans, pumpkin seeds and salt into large mixing bowl allowing oats to clump a bit. Lay out a piece of parchment paper over large baking sheet. Bake for 30- 45 minutes stirring ingredients halfway through baking. Check frequently to insure oats are not over cooking. Remove from oven and let cool. After cooling add your goji berries, blueberries and dark chocolate. Enjoy!