Snack time can be the best or the worst time of day depending on your level of preparation. One thing I’ve come to realize after starting to eat healthy, is that dedicating some time per week for prep food is essential for continued success. Otherwise, you get hungry, you stare at your fridge and then you eat half a jar of almond butter…fail.
Today, I’m sharing a recipe for “Super Spheres”. I’ve given them the title “Super” because they contain several ingredients that are superior sources of super fighting antioxidant power (say it 5-times fast!). Both the blueberries and goji berries found in this recipe are considered “super foods” because they contain high levels of phytonutrients that posess antioxidant power.
But lets step back a minute…what exactly IS an anti-oxidant, what does it DO and why is that GOOD for our bodies?
An antioxidant is defined as “a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules.”
Hmm…so what is oxidation exactly?
::Puts on lab coat and snaps goggles into place::
Oxidation is a chemical process that involves the moving of electrons on molecules. The figure above shows how interactions with either reducing or oxidizing agents stimulates the movement of electrons from the starting molecule onto the final product. The process of oxidation happens constantly in our body and in the environment. Physical examples of oxidation can be seen when an apple turns brown or when rust forms on your car.
Oxidation reactions produce free radicals, a molecule that possesses a charge due to either an excess or deficient number of electrons. Because of this, free radicals are extremely unstable and chemically active, scavenging around to find other molecules that it can pair with to transfer electrons. An easier (albeit potentially offensive) way to think of a free radical is by picturing that sleazy guy at the bar who hits on every woman that passes by. Free radicals that contain oxygen are known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and have been linked with many disease states in the body, as well as aging. Inside our bodies, ROS whiz around interacting (and potentially damaging) cells, proteins and our DNA…not good.
So, what do antioxidants DO? Antioxidants serve as a sort of protector against oxidative damage by neutralizing free radicals. Two ways in which antioxidants work are, 1) When a free radical releases or steals an electron this produces a chain reaction, which leaves another molecule with an unevenly paired electron (ie, another free radical, and so on). Antioxidants stabilize this free radical by either donating or receiving an electron, thus breaking the free radical chain. The chemical structure of the antioxidant is so that it remains stable despite being able to give and take electrons freely.
Why is this GOOD for our bodies? As indicated earlier, free radicals can wreak havoc in our bodies by starting harmful chain reactions. Free radical-related damage has been linked to inflammation, aging, cancer, Alzheimer’s…you name it and free radicals have their dirty hands in the pot. Now that you know how antioxidants work, it’s a no brainer to understand that in order to ward off such damage you need to continuously replenish your stock of antioxidants. Some antioxidants include beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, flavonoids, phenolic acids/esters and Vitamins A, C and E. These super substances can be found in a wide array of foods, with some of this highest levels recorded in certain fruits and veggies.
This recipe utilizes a couple of foods that are super sources of antioxidants, including blueberries, goji berries and almonds. It makes the perfect portable snack that provides a boost of energy and also helps to reconstitute your antioxidant reserves.
- 2 cups almonds, I used blanched slivered, but any kind will do
- 1/2 cup dried goji berries
- 1 cup dried wild blueberries, try to find unsweetened
- 1/4 cup unsweetened, dried coconut, plus more for rolling
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 2 scoops of your favorite protein powder
- pinch of salt
- zest and juice of 2 lemons
- Place almonds and goji berries into food processor, pulse until crumbly
- Add pinch of salt, coconut, chia seeds and lemon zest, pulse to combine
- Add protein powder, pulse to combine
- To the mix, add the blueberries and process until mixture just begins to clump on sides
- Slowly add the lemon juice while processing, mixture will start to get real sticky
- Scoop the mixture by the teaspoon, using your hands roll into a ball and then roll in coconut
- Store in freezer