Eating For Energy

Eating For Energy

It was t-shirt weather, not the overwhelming kind, but just enough to enjoy sitting outside in the shade behind the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Our Team Green Adventures Nutrition Workshop group sat on picnic tables facing the park as Amber Robertson from Bliss Holistic delved into the Eating For Energy edition of our monthly series.

Stress can be inversely linked to energy. Why? Stress triggers your body to store up as much energy as possible. The problem is that most of us automatically go for the foods that give us the quickest boost of energy– a sugar spike. Those foods aren’t stable sources of energy; first you get a boost and then you crash hard when that spike wears off, leaving you feeling drained.

Think about when 2pm rolls around. The day has been hard, that deadline is quickly approaching and all you can think about is that yummy candy bar or that pack of powdered doughnuts. You go for it and it gives you a burst of energy. Soon after you just want to fall asleep or stare off into space.

Then what do we do? Go for more food to give us that spike. It’s an ugly cycle.

More stress, less energy. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

As we had some passersby join in, Amber went over five food types that decrease our energy:

  1. Caffeine
  2. Processed chemical-ized (junk) foods
  3. Dairy
  4. Refined sugar
  5. Trans fat

Then some that increase and stabilize our energy:

  1. Living/raw foods (good because the nutrients haven’t yet degraded or been cooked out)
  2. Whole foods (foods that have not been altered from their natural state)
  3. Superfoods (nutrient-rich foods like kale, blueberries, salmon)

Simply put, the best way to keep your energy up is to eat the freshest possible dark-colored foods. Amber’s “magic formula” is:

E = P + V + HF (Energy = Protein + Veggies + Healthy Fats)

Using the list of foods that increase your energy, think of foods like Raw Pumpkin Seeds/Soy/Lentils (Protein) + Kale/Carrots (Vegetable) + Avocado/Nuts (Health Fats).

My personal advice is to avoid the aisles of the grocery. Shop the outer ring. That’s where they keep the freshest, healthiest items. The exception might be whole grains and lentils, which are probably down an aisle.

Food is not the only source of energy, however. Air, water, quality sleep, and primary foods are important for maintaining healthy energy levels.

What are primary foods?

As Amber put it, primary foods are the nourishing elements and experiences that don’t come on a plate, such as:

  1. Relationships (your friends, family, co-workers, etc.)
  2. Career (your occupation or how you spend your time)
  3. Physical Activity (movement and exercise)
  4. Spirituality (feeling connected to something greater than yourself)

Optimal energy is a result of satisfaction with the food on your plate as well as the quality of your primary foods. You have the choice to have a healthy plate of food and healthy primary foods. When you remember that making healthy choices will make you feel better, it’s easier to eat and live well.

nutrition blog 3.25.16

Speaking of easy ways to eat well, Amber made this delicious dish for us call Vegetarian Tempeh Tacos. Tempeh is just a fancy word for fermented (TASTY) soy beans.

Uh, healthy tacos? I’m in! What about you? Try it out!

Vegetarian Tempeh Tacos
(About Six Servings)


  • 2 (8 oz.) packages of unflavored tempeh (I couldn’t find unflavored so I got beef flavored…because tacos!)
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic (or garlic paste from the International/Indian food store)
  • 1 diced tomato
  • 1 fresh diced jalapeño
  • ½ diced red onion
  • 1 taco seasoning packet (or 2 tablespoons)
  • Olive oil
  • 6-8 soft tortillas or hard taco shells, per your taste


  1. Crumble tempeh into a large mixing bowl. Then mix in the garlic, tomato, jalapeño, onion, and seasoning packet.
  2. Coat a skillet or frying pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Once heated, toss in the tempeh mixture. Flip tempeh/vegetable mixture a few times so that it browns evenly. It’s ready when vegetables are tender and tempeh has crispy edges. It should take about 10 minutes. (Add a little water if the mixture seems too dry.)
  3. While tempeh is cooking, prepare tortillas or taco shells following the directions on the package.
  4. Fill tortillas or taco shells with tempeh/vegetable mixture and top with your choice of toppings.
  5. Enjoy!

Re-purpose for lunch tomorrow: Tempeh Taco Salad

Top your favorite salad greens (remember, the darker the better) with taco tempeh mixture, extra veggies and dressing, like the recipe below.

Goddess Avocado Dressing
(Makes about 2 cups)

Blend the following ingredients in a blender until smooth

  • 5 avocados
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water (may need more to thin it out)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Voila! You have a delicious energy boosting dinner, and creative left overs for lunch the next day!

Samantha (Team Green Volunteer Trip Leader)

Meet Samantha and Amber Robertson on the Third Wednesday of each month for Team Green’s Monthly Nutrition Workshop Series at the Nashville Famers’ Market. Our next workshop is on Wednesday, April 20th at 6pm for “Nutrition On The Go!”

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