Food & Drink, On Campus

18th January 2021

Snacking For Success: Brain-foods to Power You Through Assessment Season

When you’re inundated with work, the temptation to have a packet of crisps or a chocolate bar for lunch is real. Whilst certainly tasty, they won’t be providing the all-important nutrients you need to aid your revision. A healthy diet is vital for your body to function properly and help you work at the best of your ability. These quick recipes show how easy it is to incorporate vitamins and minerals into your meals, helping you stay you focused when you need it most.

Low-maintenance

Blueberries

Some days you don’t have time to spare, and just need something quick to nibble on. Blueberries are a great option. Full of antioxidants, studies have shown they can increase concentration, and aid knowledge retention. A natural source of sugar, they will also give you a boost without the sluggish after-feeling.

Veg Sticks

Vegetable sticks are also beneficial. Electrolyte-rich cucumber helps cell functioning, whilst the high Vitamin C content in peppers boosts your immune system. Equally, carrots provide a great source of fibre which promotes gut health. Try them alone or dipped into hummus or tzatziki.

Pitta

Another good option for dipping is pitta. The glucose in carbs helps to maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Try wholegrain for a healthier alternative.

Nuts

Nuts are a source of healthy fats, and make the perfect quick snack. My personal favourite is cashews, but walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds are some other great options. To make your own trail mix and for added fibre, add some dried fruit and pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

Image credit: ontrackretreats.co.uk

Intermediate

If you have more time to spare, consider these options.

Fish

Fish has been a renowned brain food for years, full of omega 3 and important fatty acids. Tinned variations such as mackerel and tuna are student-friendly, and extremely versatile.

For a light snack that will carry you over between meals, try these tuna and cucumber slices. Simply drain and mix half a can of tuna with salt, pepper and mayonnaise to taste. Spread over slices of cucumber and top with more pepper. Add some chilli flakes or sriracha if you fancy a kick.

Cream cheese is not only tasty, but also high in Vitamin A. Spread across a Ryvita cracker and flake over tinned mackerel or salmon. Top with rocket leaves if you like a bit of greenery. Bagels also work well for this.

Avocado

Another source of healthy fats are avocados. Scoop out half an avocado and mash together with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chilli flakes (to taste). Spread over Ryvita crackers or rice cakes for a delicious crispy snack. If you prefer guacamole, add half a diced red onion and two diced salad tomatoes to the mix, along with a squeeze of lime.

Image credit: Pinterest

For When You Have a Bit More Time

Edamame

Edamame, also known as soya beans, contains protein, fibre, and Vitamin K. Found in the frozen aisle in ASDA, they are a great addition to pasta and salads, or alone as a snack. Decant your desired amount into a bowl and add enough water to just cover them. Microwave for around two minutes until tender. Drain any excess water, and for best results, pop in the fridge until cool. Serve with a splash of soy sauce. If you need a quicker alternative, season with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and lime juice and eat warm.

Dark Chocolate

If you have a sweet tooth, dark chocolate is the best option. High in antioxidants, it has been claimed to increase blood flow and brain function. Try dipping banana slices into melted dark chocolate, and popping in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. If you’re trying to be healthy, go for the highest cocoa content you can find, as they have the least amount of sugar. Look for the Moser Roth range from Aldi for a cheap and cheerful option. The bitterness is an acquired taste, but the richness does a good job at satisfying a craving.

Eggs

If you need a protein-kick, hard boiled eggs are a hassle-free snack. You can work as they boil, give them around 15 minutes, then simply shell and slice into quarters.

Image credit: Pinterest

Beverages

Coffee

Natural sources of energy are better for early mornings, but coffee is a great pick-me-up if you’re feeling tired throughout the day.

When the caffeine calls, iced coffees are the perfect way to get your kick. Simply mix three teaspoons of instant coffee with around 150 ml of boiling water. Pour over a large glass of ice and milk, or alternatively blend with the ice and milk and transfer to a glass. Don’t forget your reusable straw!

Juices & Smoothies

Juices and smoothies are the perfect way to incorporate more fruit and veg into your diet.

For an easy green juice, blend frozen mango and pineapple with some fresh root ginger, cucumber, fresh spinach and orange juice. If you prefer a smoothie, combine a portion of this Aldi mix with a few chunks of frozen banana, fresh spinach and milk to your desired consistency. If you’re less keen on the green, these two mixes are simple and tasty, and help to keep you engaged for longer.

Natural Infusions

If you need something warmer to heat up the cold mornings, this infusion is perfect, and also a great natural immune system booster. In a mug, mix a teaspoon of turmeric with a teaspoon of honey, lemon juice and a chunk of root ginger. Add boiling water to fill. Stir to combine until all ingredients are dissolved. This is tasty, comforting, and great for aiding COVID or general flu recovery.

Image credit: Pinterest

Final Comment

These suggestions alone won’t guarantee you a first, but they will help to look after your brain and body, and allow you to work at your full capacity. In addition to eating well, make sure you are getting enough sleep and getting out of the house every day. Be it a 10 minute walk or a 40 minute HIIT session, it helps to break up your day and allows you to be more focused when you resume working. It also helps you sleep better too.

Be kind to yourself, and listen to your body for when to eat and rest. This year has been tough on students, so remember how far you have come in such exceptional circumstances, and how much you have achieved. Keep working hard, and good luck!

Feature Image Credit: cookinglight.com

To find out the best food and drinks that Liverpool has to offer, and tasty recipes, check out some of our other articles!