Food for Mood 3: How to make healthier snacks

Saba James, the Nutrition for Wellbeing Lead from the National Centre for Integrative Medicine, shares three easy sweeter treats to avoid packaged cereal, chocolate bars and ice creams. This is the third of six cook-a-long sessions looking at how we can support our mood with food.

These healthy snacks include dark chocolate – full of magnesium and antioxidants. Dates, which offer a mellow, caramel sweetness with added fibre and minerals. Nuts, which help maintain stable blood-glucose levels with added protein and healthy unsaturated fats. Bananas, which are dense in fibre, prebiotics plus potassium, folate, vitamin C and lots of antioxidants plus they taste delicious.

Balancing our blood glucose helps stabilise our mood and energy which supports our stamina and focus during periods of revision and intense study. It is also essential to enjoy the sweeter things in life sometimes.

Easy Assembly Energy balls – no food processor required!

  • 1 cup peanut or almond butter – smooth, 100%. Or use a different nut or seed butter.
  • 1/4 cup honey or another liquid sweetener of choice (can be mashed sweet banana)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats – gluten free if you prefer
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • Tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut EXTRA for rolling


  1. Place the peanut butter and honey in a large bowl and use a spoon to mix them together a little.
  2. Add the oats, 1/4 cup of desiccated coconut and 1/4 cup of the protein powder to the bowl (i.e. only add half of the protein powder to begin with).
  3. Using a wooden spoon or a sturdy spatula, start combining all of the ingredients together. They should form a slightly sticky dough, with a consistency where it can be rolled into balls. Once the mixture has largely come together, you can test it by rolling a bit into a ball with your hands. If it’s too wet, add extra protein powder until it reaches the right consistency.
  4. Roll heaped tablespoons of the dough into balls, and then roll in the extra desiccated coconut to coat.
  5. Place the balls in the fridge to firm up a little. Leave them stored in the fridge in an airtight container, or alternatively freeze them for a longer life (where they should keep for about 3 months).

Frozen banana bites

  • 2 bananas, sliced into about 30 wheels
  • 5 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup semi sweet, dark or milk chocolate chips


  1. Place 15 banana sliced on a parchment lined baking sheet or place
  2. Top each banana with ½ teaspoon of peanut butter (or nut/seed butter of your choice)
  3. Top with another banana slice to make “sandwiches”
  4. Freeze bananas for 30 mins to an hour
  5. Melt coconut oil and chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds- 1 minute or a small saucepan over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until completely smooth stirring continuously. Allow the chocolate to come to room temperature, about 5 minutes
  6. Using a fork dip the peanut butter bananas in the chocolate until completely covered allowing the extra chocolate to drip off
  7. Place the chocolate covered bananas back on the parchment and freeze for an hour and up to 24 hours.
  8. Place the frozen chocolate peanut butter banana bites in zipper bags on containers and store in the freezer for up to 3 months

Quick Assembly stuffed dates

  • 1 pack of fresh dates
  • 1 bag of nuts of your choice (walnuts, almonds, cashews)
  • 1 jar of tahini or you can use the nut butter you have

Method – serving size: 2 or 3

  1. Open date (may need to slice along the date)
  2. Put in one or two nuts of your choice
  3. Top with a drizzle of tahini or nut butter – thin the nut butter with a little warm water

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