Summer is finally winding down. On the first day of August, my son looked at me and said sadly, “Summer is almost over.” I looked at him like this.
At that point, he still had about five or six weeks of me time. But it was a good reminder that once school starts, my schedule will be a little more amped up. Right now, it’s about trying to get things done while finding time to entertain an eleven-year-old boy. #trialsofWAHM
Lately, I’ve been noticing a post-lunch dip. What the hell is that? Well, in some cultures, an afternoon siesta is needed to replenish mental and physical energy. Here in the states, that is generally frowned upon. But depending on a person’s circadian rhythms, there might be a propensity to experience low energy in the afternoon. In other words, most of us adapt to changes in our schedule if needed, however, there are a handful of people who are morning and evening-type people. There’s some evidence that personality may play a role. Introverts (like yours truly) tend to be morning people and extroverts tend to love the nightlife. But I have been experiencing a case of manic mornings that result in afternoon blahs. What I’ve found is that I need foods that raise my energy but calm me the heck down without making me crash and wanting to reach for a chocolate chip cookie at 4:00 pm. That means foods that are filling, don’t raise my blood sugar level, and that are plump full of nutrients that benefit me mentally like B vitamins. Here are some of the foods that I like to indulge in to fight that disastrous dip in energy during the afternoons:
When I started going out with my husband many years ago, he would take me to his neighborhood pizzeria where almost every customer would sprinkle oregano on their slice before eating it. Mind you, the oregano was from a big family-size container that was zip-tied to the counter. It’s the Bronx, y’all—don’t play that mess! Taking that first bite of that slice always felt better with that warm pungent herb. As a vegan, I still enjoy a dash of oregano to kick up the flavor of my meals. Generally, oregano has been used to prevent food spoilage and has nutrients including calcium, zinc, iron, copper, and manganese. This herb is a strong antioxidant due to phenolic compounds such as caffeic acid. Furthermore, oregano contains other components such the anti-inflammatory rosmarinic acid and antimicrobials like carvacrol and thymol. Oregano constituents also have antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties. For example, carvacrol and thymol may suppress the growth of melanoma cells and carvacrol may be useful in regulating blood glucose levels. Some studies suggest that oregano may be effective in preventing bacterium associated with gastritis. And some animal studies indicate that rosmarinic acid may produce an antidepressive effect, which can be beneficial in combating that afternoon slump.
When I think of buckwheat, I think of luscious noodles with lightly sautéed veggies accented by a sweet gingery sauce. Yep, Mama’s hungry now. When it comes to healthy food to beat those afternoon blahs, you can‘t go wrong with buckwheat. Buckwheat is high in dietary fiber, proteins, carbohydrates, and polyphenols. In fact, buckwheat’s protein content is higher than rice, wheat, millet, sorghum, and maize. Some nutritional studies indicate that buckwheat proteins have the highest cholesterol-lowering properties among the plant proteins known to science so far. These proteins may have a protective effect against colon cancer. And research indicates that buckwheat protein isolates may be effective in treating hypertension, constipation, and obesity. This plant also contains brain-boosting B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, as well as other nutrients such as vitamin E, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. What’s more, unlike many grains, buckwheat does not contain the antinutrient phytic acid and it’s gluten free. Phytic acid hinders mineral absorption. In addition, buckwheat has antioxidants like quercetin that are anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic. It has been reported that buckwheat contains two to five times more phenolic compounds than oats and barley. Please note that buckwheat does contain potential allergens for those of us who might be prone to those things. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy a bowl full of glistening, succulent, delicious buckwheat noodles (I intend to enjoy some tonight).
I remember having wild rice for the first time a couple of years ago. I grew up eating rice and peas because my family is Jamaican and I always ordered white rice in restaurants so wild rice was definitely a novelty for me. But once I tasted it, there was no going back. I loved that unique nutty flavor. Then I found out that wild rice isn’t rice at all. Wild rice is an aquatic grass. Whatever, grass tastes good, y’all (and I mean that in a non-pharmaceutical way 😊, shhh, it’s my blog so I get to be corny if I want). Anywho, wild rice is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, carbohydrates, B vitamins like niacin and riboflavin that are all wonderful for fighting that post-lunch dip. Wild rice also contains minerals such as phosphorus, iron, and potassium. This grass does contain flavonoids like apigenin that are anticarcinogenic. Some animal studies have shown that wild rice consumption may be effective in lowering liver cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of colon cancer. Wild rice can be a great transitional dish because it’s perfect for both hot summer nights and cool fall evenings.
I’ve always been a lemon girl, meaning I love to put lemons in most of my beverages. Hot tea, ice tea, plain water, juices, sometimes they all need a lemon for that extra punch. Lemons are ubiquitous, you can find them in grocery stores, fruit stands, hell even in a decorative bowl on your favorite auntie’s kitchen table. Lemons are a powerful weapon against post-lunch dip because they are chock full of vitamin C, provide energy, and have protein and fiber. Lemons also contain B vitamins like folate, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, and minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. This plant is huge in terms of antioxidants because of the combination of vitamin C and flavonoids like hesperidin and naringenin that show anticarcinogenic, antimicrobial, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory activity. For instance, some animal studies suggest hesperidin may have a protective effect on bones, may have therapeutic value as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and may lower blood lipid levels. Several studies indicate that lemon may be used in the treatment for conditions such as fatigue, oral cancer, urinary bladder cancer, liver cancer, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal diseases, obesity, and dementia. And essential oils of lemon prevent low-density oxidation and reduce plasmatic cholesterol and triglycerides that may lead to heart disease. What can’t lemons do?!! Sometimes I like to use lemons to make a refreshing, zesty dressing to top a light side salad.
White navy beans
White bean hummus is one of the most satisfying midday meals that can maximize your mood and energize you through the rest of your day. Roasted white beans drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, dill, a touch of cream, combined to create something that’s just…heaven. Okay, I’m back 😉. White navy beans, like other legumes, are high in protein and a great source of folate, but these beans also have thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Navy beans have polyphenols that are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It has been reported that legume intake may result in reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and colon cancer. In addition, legumes may prevent insulin-resistance and help with glycemic control for diabetic patients. Please note that white navy beans may contain trace amounts of phytate for those with possible gastrointestinal issues. Make some white bean hummus—trust, I promise you that you will not be sorry!
Okay, those are my go-to foods to raise my energy, mellow my moods, and get me through that post-lunch hump. What foods do that for you?