Healthy Cook: Getting all-day energy for work and play

It’s a rush, rush world. Even as a retired person, it’s hard to find time to wind down. Just when you think you can unfurl the hammock someone calls with a new something to be done. Youngsters are not immune to rush-rush living, and the older you get the more tasks you have that need energy.

Asparagus Stir Fry with Grapefruit and Almonds

CFHN TIP! For adding even more lasting energy to your meal, eat this side with grilled salmon.

Recipe courtesy of Florida Department of Citrus.

Yield: Makes six servings


1 large pink Florida grapefruit
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
Pinch of salt


Cut grapefruit in half. Squeeze juice into measuring cup to make about half cup (125 mL). With small spoon, scrape pulp from grapefruit into separate bowl to make about half cup (125 mL). Set aside.

Swirl oil into large skillet or wok set over medium-high heat. Stir-fry almonds and garlic until golden-brown, about 30 seconds. Add asparagus and salt; stir-fry one minute. Add grapefruit juice and a quarter cup (50 mL) water. Cook asparagus, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp. Stir in reserved grapefruit pulp.

It’s no wonder you can buy energy boosters in every corner store and gas station. I saw one the other day that isn’t even a drink . . . just something you slip under your tongue. Check the ingredients on root beer and orange sodas. You might be surprised.

Many years ago, as night editor for a newspaper, I used to pop something called No-Dose. The pink pills were mostly caffeine, about the same as two or three cups of coffee. Now, energy boosters have a generous dose of caffeine and a variety of tropical-sounding ingredients to keep you bouncing off the walls until the assignment or study time is finished.

At least 75 per cent of Americans deal with day-to-day stress, according to research by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. There must be a more natural, healthier, way to keep focused. There is.

Experts tout a constant stream of energy should replace a transient punch from a drink followed by a sugar-topped muffin a while later. The quick caffeine or sugar pick-me-up is followed by a let-down when the energy high wears off. Here are foods to keep you on the straight and narrow in the energy department.

Water. Start the day with a large glass of water. You haven’t had anything to drink for many hours.

Almonds. An ounce of raw, unsalted almonds, about 23, has healthy fats and protein to balance blood sugar levels.

Dark chocolate. Chocolate that is labeled at least 70 percent is best— an excellent place to get iron and magnesium. Don’t go overboard.

Bananas. There are piles of potassium and B vitamins in this fruit. They slow digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Salmon. The fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids needed to produce energy, and help brain activity and circulation. When fresh salmon is out of the price park, canned salmon fills in. Drain the liquid from the fish and mix with some mayo, relish and almonds. Enjoy that on crackers or slices of raw zucchini or cucumber.

Curry. Spices mixed to form curries— including turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, and mustard seeds— can boost energy levels with antioxidants and level out blood sugar.

Coconut. The oils in coconut are mostly medium chain triglycerides, a type of fat that is turned into energy quickly.

Lentils and legumes. Most of us get the mid-afternoon doldrums. Lentils and legumes such as chickpeas and kidney beans can stabilize blood glucose levels and help prevent the three o’clock crash. Think what you can do after a lunch of lentil curry.

Eggs. These little wonders have choline, a type of B-vitamin required for brain function and energy production. Hard cooked eggs go well in the lentil curry.

Whole grains. Here is a category that can go on and on. Wheat, kamut, spelt, oats or brown rice are complex carbohydrates that include fiber, B-vitamins, and iron to keep you going at a steady pace. Whole wheat tortillas, that are easily available, can replace the Indian flatbread called chapatis (which are not easily found) eaten with curry.

Citrus. A glass of orange or grapefruit juice, even a cooling lemonade, is a good idea when studying.

Yogurt. Probiotics in yogurt help fight a weak immune system and boost energy levels. Greek yogurt has more than regular yogurt because the usual way to make Greek yogurt is to drain much of the liquid from normal yogurt. We used to call this yogurt cheese. Smoothies that start with yogurt and bananas are powerhouses when you need to get work done.

Kale. The new darling of nutrition, kale has just about everything you can think of that’s good for you.

Ginger. A chef named James Barber wrote a cute little cookbook called Ginger Tea Makes Friends. He could have called it: “Ginger Tea Makes Energy.” It does. Shred a piece of ginger— don’t bother peeling it— and steep the shreds in hot water for a half hour or so. Strain the infusion. Add a bit to tea. Put some in your smoothie. A few drops will help the lunchtime curry. Mix some with soda water (club soda) and sweetener for homemade ginger ale.

See how easy it is to be full of energy, and healthy too?


story by TRENT ROWE, Food Editor

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