An Anti-Anxiety, Mood Balancing Breakfast
Is your breakfast making you anxious?
Do you feel brain fog or the jitters after breakfast, even if you don’t drink coffee? Does your brain feel a little frizzed out before you have even begun your day?
You could try changing up your breakfast options. A lot of the time, we reach for breads and cereals that make us feel full fast, but quickly burn off, turning into glucose that can spike our blood sugar. Combine this with any stress in the morning about rushing to work, school, etc, and there’s a perfect storm of feeling frazzled and anxious.
After years (decades?) of feeling like this, I learned that having a breakfast with higher amounts of protein, fat and minerals and lower levels of sugars (even natural sugars like fruit) and grains (which turn into sugar) helped me to stabilize my mood and anxiety levels. This didn’t just help in the morning, but throughout the entire day! What we eat for breakfast kickstarts our metabolism, switches the brain on and influences our blood sugar levels for the whole day.
Rather than always choosing denser, animal based products like eggs or cheese to get the fat and protein, I wanted to find some options that were lighter and plant based, but still satisfying, nutrient dense and filling. I also opt for gluten-free.
Enter Apple Nut Breakfast Quinoa. This combination of quinoa, nuts, seeds, low glycemic fruit and maple syrup is a grounding and delicious way to get a good dose of plant-based protein, fat, minerals, fibre and lots of antioxidants for a stable start to the day. Also, it’s a refreshing twist on regular oatmeal. Literally… have you seen those cute little swoopy quinoa seeds?
Why Don’t We Want to Spike Our Blood Sugar?
But sugar makes me feel so zippy and fast! Oh, wait a sec… Now I feel weak and shaky and like total crap.
Simple carbs like white breads and cereals, as well as other high-glycemic foods, can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, forcing your body to produce high amounts of insulin in an attempt to absorb the excess. This then lowers your blood sugar and can leave you feeling shaky, fatigued, dizzy, anxious and irritable. No fun. This state causes your body to produce cortisol, which leads to more irritability, fatigue and anxiety, as well as other imbalances in the body.
In the long run, chronic blood sugar spikes can cause damage to nerves, organs and blood vessels and may lead to issues like metabolic syndrome, heart disease and adrenal fatigue.
So here’s why Apple Nut Breakfast Quinoa makes a great anti-anxiety, mood balancing breakfast.
Most of the protein in this recipe comes from nuts and seeds as well as the humble little quinoa seed, which is one of the rare plant-based sources of complete protein.
Protein helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, helping to take stress off the adrenals. This helps us to feel less anxious and things don’t bother us as much. Protein is also important for the creation of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers in the body, like dopamine and serotonin, that are important for balancing mood.
The nuts, seeds and quinoa also offer a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for good functioning of the central nervous system. Omega 3s enable signals to travel quickly and fluidly between brain cells. They are they are also very anti-inflammatory, decreasing any potential inflammation of the brain, which has an effect on mental functioning and mood. Fat also helps to slow the absorption of carbohydrates, helping to avoid blood sugar spikes and falls.
There is a lot of fibre in this dish from the quinoa, apples and nuts. Fibre helps to keep blood sugar levels steady by slowing down the amount of sugar absorbed. It also helps to keep you regular, which eliminates toxins or excess hormones that could lead to irritability, anxiety and just general un-wellness.
Again, quinoa, nuts and seeds for the win. Also contributing to the antioxidant pool is the apple and maple syrup! Antioxidants fight off free radicals, which are produced when we are stressed, so in other words, they help to repair any cell damage that was caused due to stress.
Low Glycemic Foods
All of the ingredients are lower on the glycemic index, so they won’t spike blood sugar levels. Even the apples and maple syrup are sweet low glycemic options. By keeping blood sugar levels stable, we are helping to keep our nervous system stable.
This breakfast bowl is full of beneficial minerals like magnesium and zinc that nourish the adrenals and balance blood sugar, stabilizing mood and providing a great start to the day.
- Rinse your quinoa. The outside of a quinoa seed contain saponin. Saponin has a bitter taste and will foam up like soap a bit when you rinse it. For some people, this compound may cause stomach upset, bloating and diarrhea.
- Cinnamon has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity. In other words, it can help regulate blood sugar levels.
I hope you enjoy this savoury-sweet breakfast bowl that's just a little nutty!
Apple Nut Breakfast Quinoa
- 1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
- 1 cup plant milk of choice
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1-2 (about 1 cup) diced apples peeled if not organic
- 1-2 tbsp real maple syrup
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
Nuts & Seeds, Etc
- 2 tbsp pecans
- 2 tbsp walnuts
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 2 tbsp shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup chopped dried dates (or raisins or cranberries - optional)
Add diced apple and about 2 teaspoons of filtered water to a medium sized pot over medium heat. Cook until the apples soften a bit, about 5 minutes.
Add quinoa and stir to combine.
Add the plant milk, filtered water, cinnamon and maple syrup. Stir and bring to a gentle boil.
Once boiling, reduce heat to low and stir in the nuts, seeds, coconut and dried fruit.
Cover the pot and let cook for 15 minutes over low heat.
Remove from heat and let it sit, covered for 5 minutes.
Fluff the quinoa. Serve in bowls topped with additional fruit, plant milk and maple syrup, if desired.
For the nuts and seeds, you can use whatever you have on hand. Just add about 3/4 cup of mixed nuts seeds, shredded coconut, etc.
This can be made ahead of time and warmed up in minutes on the stove with a bit of almond milk (or other milk). It will last a few days in the fridge.