5 Energizing Plant-Based Meals to Boost Productivity and Focus
You’re probably planning on spending more time at home for the foreseeable future due to the continuation of work from home policies and social distancing guidelines. With most of your day-to-day happenings taking place within the comfort of your home, it can be difficult navigating this ‘new normal.’ As a result, there may be days where you wake up with low energy or just experience difficulty in getting your work done. While it may be tempting to grab another cup of coffee or protein bar to get a kick of energy for a few hours, it’s important to focus on your diet to stay energized and productive throughout the day.
Allison Butler, MPH, RD, a registered dietician specializing in nutrition education explains that the key to boosting energy with a plant-based diet is focusing on your macronutrient balance. “Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fat, and protein. This trifecta, when eaten together, provides sustained fuel for your body. Carbohydrates are the go-to source for energy and help fuel both your body and brain. Eating fats and protein with carbohydrates helps to slow down the metabolism of glucose and decrease spikes in blood sugar. Fat also helps with satiety (feeling full) and proteins are the building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.”
If you’re wondering what to eat with all three micronutrients, there’s no shortage of creative ideas. Here are Butler’s favorite plant-based meal recipes that will leave you feeling energized all day!
1. Avocado Toast
This nutritious meal is super customizable and quite aesthetic too. It is generally prepared with a base of bread, avocado, and a variety of delicious toppings for flavor. Butler recommends adding a protein-filled topping, such as hummus or chickpeas. “Avocado toast is loaded with healthy fats from the avocado, complete protein from hummus and energizing, fiber-filled carbs from the whole-grain bread.”
2. Overnight Oats
This healthy meal is easy to prepare and rich in energy-boosting nutrients. In order to whip up this delicious treat, leave a jar of oats soaked with a mixture of plant-based milk and your favorite toppings. Butler adds chia seeds and peanut butter for its rich properties. “The oats are filled with fiber, the chia seeds provide healthy fats to keep you full and the peanut butter adds the punch of protein to kickstart the day feeling energized.”
Recipe: Coffee Chia Overnight Oats
3. Yogurt Parfait
This balanced meal will sweeten your taste buds while boosting your productivity and concentration. Parfaits are mostly curated with layers of toppings and yogurts. Butler’s parfait creation entails layers of sliced papaya, granola, and oat milk yogurt. “Papaya is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and other antioxidants in addition to papain - a powerful enzyme that can aid in digestion. The yogurt contains probiotics that also support gut health.”
4. Baked Oatmeal
This nourishing dish is packed with tons of energy-boosting properties and is super easy to prepare at any time of day. In your cooked oatmeal, Butler recommends adding banana, flax seeds, and cocoa powder for the ultimate power-filled meal. “Bananas are a good source of potassium and flax is loaded with omega-3s, fiber, and protein. For an extra antioxidant boost - use dark chocolate chips (> 70% cacao). Make a batch at the beginning of the week and store in the fridge for a quick breakfast on-the-go.”
5. Sweet Potato Stir-Fry
This healthy one-pot meal can be customized to fit in tasty vegetables and numerous sources of protein. It is generally prepared with diced sweet potato cooked up in a skillet filled with delicious toppings, such as tofu or tempeh. Butler recommends adding red onion, bell peppers, garlic, and kale to the cooked sweet potato. “This hash is an awesome combo of all of the macros plus vitamin A and carotenoids from sweet potato, anthocyanins from red onion, vitamin C from bell peppers, and calcium and vitamin K from kale.”
Recipe: Sweet Potato Mexican Fry-Up