This Peanut Butter Granola Recipe Boosts Happiness
After all, granola is the ideal combination of slightly sweet, slightly salty, crunchy and endlessly versatile. And while any decent granola recipe can induce happiness when added to a creamy smoothie or bowl of cereal, there is one particular granola recipe that really carries the mood-enhancing notion. to new levels: it only requires five ingredients and always manages to hit all of the “Big 6” nutrients dietitians believe are linked to your happiness.
From the creative mind of Monique Volz, food blogger and recipe creator behind The Ambitious Kitchen, this five-ingredient peanut butter granola is a nutrient-rich powerhouse that’ll start your day off right…no matter what. which side of the bed you woke up on. Besides being delicious, it’s packed with soluble fiber, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, B vitamins and vanillin, which experts have linked to better mood regulation.
So… how does this peanut butter granola spark joy, exactly?
“Much of the evidence for how nutrients influence your mood has to do with the effects of a deficiency on your mood states,” says Samantha Cassetty, RD. “Low levels of nutrients, such as fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and magnesium, can interfere with your level of happiness, and once you replace less healthy foods with nutritious ones, you may notice that you have more energy and that you feel better and happier.”
The specific ingredients in this recipe, Cassetty adds, also contain these highly mood-boosting nutrients. For starters, the rolled oats that form the base of this recipe are high in soluble fiber. As such, they play a key role in regulating your blood sugar, which in turn regulates your mood by helping you avoid the spike-then-crash blood sugar cycle. “Fiber plays a role in keeping your gut microbes healthy and happy, which in turn helps keep you healthy and happy,” says Cassetty. “A study has found that a diverse microbiome is linked to better well-being, and one of the best ways to diversify the microbes in your gut is to eat foods high in fiber.”
Additionally, oats are an excellent source of magnesium, which is also essential for mood regulation. “Insufficient magnesium intake could make you feel blasphemous,” says Cassetty. “Magnesium plays a role in your sleep and stress response, and it also helps regulate serotonin. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include fatigue, anxiety, and irritability, so if you don’t get enough of this mineral, you probably won’t feel as good.
Then there are chia seeds, which are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. “Omega-3s are often touted for their heart-healthy benefits; studies have shown that omega-3s can help lower blood pressure and triglycerides,” says cardiologist Suzanne Steinbaum, MD, volunteer medical expert for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement. But beyond their benefits for heart health, these essential fats also contribute to brain health and mood regulation. Chia seeds are also a good source of magnesium.
Peanut butter, which helps give this granola its rich, nutty taste, is part of the legume family, making it an excellent source of B vitamins. Peanuts, therefore, can help improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), all of which play a key role in regulating mood. “A suboptimal intake of vitamins B6, B12, and folate may play a role in mood disorders,” Cassetty says. “Each of these nutrients has a particular role, but they also act in synergy. For example, folate is involved in neurotransmitter signaling. Strong signaling is important for mood regulation. Meanwhile, a review found that supplementing with B vitamins may improve stress levels, which may also have an impact on whether you feel better and happier.
The vanilla extract lends an extra depth of flavor to the recipe, and only the scent of vanillin, a phenol component of vanilla, has been shown to have anti-anxiety effects in studies. In fact, researchers found that study participants most often had feelings of happiness and relaxation that were evoked by smelling vanilla.
Finally, the honey, which helps add just a touch of sweetness to this granola, is an excellent source of antioxidants and polyphenols, a class of antioxidants that may play a role in your happiness, Cassetty says. “Polyphenols act as prebiotics, which means they help the beneficial bacteria in your gut to thrive,” she adds. “And evidence suggests that a diverse microbiome is correlated with more positive mood states. Meanwhile, polyphenols may also dampen inflammation and oxidative stress in your brain, which may also have a beneficial effect on your mood.
Now that you’re convinced of the benefits of this happiness-boosting breakfast, check out the full Honey Peanut Butter Granola recipe below.
Peanut Butter Granola Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen
1/4 cup all-natural peanut butter
1/4 cup honey (use coconut palm syrup if vegan)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup rolled oats, gluten-free if desired
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a medium baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Add peanut butter, honey and vanilla extract to a small saucepan and place over low heat; stir to combine and heat until hot. Once hot and well mixed, transfer to a medium bowl.
3. Stir rolled oats and chia seeds into peanut butter mixture until well blended. Spread rolled oats on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake, stirring halfway through to avoid burning, until golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the granola cool. The granola will appear chewy, but will harden when cooled. Transfer to an airtight container or jar and store at room temperature for up to three weeks.
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