Brainfood: Choc-orange energy balls

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Research has found that dietary nutrients are critical to the structure and function of your brain, so eating well could have a profound impact on your mental robustness. Maintaining a healthy diet packed with brain-boosting foods to support you through your day is a must, and this recipe includes a few key ingredients to do just that.

Ingredients

1 banana
9 dates
1 cup flaked almonds
2 tablespoons raw cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 orange
handful of dark chocolate nibs
chopped almonds, cocoa powder, desiccated coconut, or chopped goji berries for decorating

Instructions

1) Place banana, dates, nuts and cocoa into the food processor or blender, and mix together until the material is bound together to form a sticky lump.
2) Zest peel of half an orange into your mixture and combine.
3) Throw in the chocolate nibs and mix.
4) Select a decoration such as coconut, cocoa, almonds or goji berries, and pour some of the decorating mix into a small bowl. Using your hands, roll the choc-orange mixture into small balls and place them one by one into the decoration bowl, rolling them to cover the exterior.
5) Place on a sheet of baking paper on a tray, and refrigerate or freeze (will keep for a week in the fridge or longer in the freezer).

Brain-boosting benefits

Nuts and seeds These are a source of good things like omega 3 fats, amino acid, folate and B vitamins, which are said to play a critical role in the production of a range of brain chemicals.
Cocoa Raw cocoa appears to be packed with brain-boosting compounds that improve cognitive function, as well as being one the world’s most antioxidant-rich foods, full of minerals like magnesium, iron and copper, which are great for overall health and vitality.
Banana Rich in healthy vitamins, minerals and potassium, bananas contain tryptophan, which research has found helps us relax, improve mood and reduce depression when converted into serotonin in our bodies.

When it comes to selecting the best ingredients for your health, nutritionist Samantha Dawson from Deakin University promotes a whole-of-diet approach. ‘Let’s consider someone who eats a lot of processed food – consuming one serve of a “superfood” is unlikely to make a noticeable difference to their overall health.’ Instead, she suggests focussing on improving overall diet quality and fibre intake, by regularly eating plenty of fresh plant-based ingredients and cutting down on sugar and processed foods.

There is increasing cultural interest in nutrition and health, and a growing demand for specialists in these fields. Deakin’s nutrition and dietetics courses provide you with the knowledge and skills to work in this incredible field.

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