5 healthy high performance snacks

Sugary snacks won't help with long-term energy levels when you're studying - luckily, we've found five high performance snacks that give a healthy boost to your body and brain!

To be part of the RAF you need to exercise and eat right. That's why this 'Fit for Action' booklet is given to anybody who's thinking of applying, to enable them to get up to speed before they start.

Alongside their fitness programme there's nutritional advice, like 'eat lots of starchy foods, fruit, veg and fish and cut down on sugar, saturated fat and salt'.

The role of chef in the RAF is a vital one, particularly when personnel are out in the field. Providing the right diet is key to helping everybody to be at peak performance.

To be effective you also need to be on top form, so The Student Room has found you five fab recipes crammed with nutritious, energy-boosting ingredients that will help you power through your studies and fitness regimes. And the best thing about them?  They’re all super-quick to make!

Peanut energy balls

These last a whole week in the fridge, so make a load at the weekend and keep them to hand whenever you need a burst of get-up-and-go!

Ingredients
1 cup oats
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup ground flax seed
½ cup chocolate chips
⅓ cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

•    Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl.
•    Cover and chill the mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes
•    Remove mix from the fridge and roll into small balls

The fats, fibre and protein of the oats and peanut butter stabilise your insulin levels and keep your energy high over long periods of time. They’re perfect to nibble on when you feel your energy levels slumping and you’re also getting protein, fibre and Omega-3 from the flaxseeds and antioxidants from the honey. (The chocolate chips are just a treat!)

Full recipe here.

Banana mug cake with an unpeeled banana next to it

Microwave banana mug cake

It’s not all about the savoury: sometimes you’ve just got to have something sweet. But sugar is an enemy of long-term stamina, giving you that quick high/crash ‘n’ burn scenario that we mentioned earlier. So here’s a recipe for something sweet but not too naughty.

(We know that making a cake sounds like a lot of hard work but, trust us, this one isn’t!)

Ingredients
1 ripe banana, sliced
1 egg
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp maple syrup
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp butter

Method

  • In a large mug, melt the butter in a microwave for about 20 seconds
  • Add the other ingredients and whisk them up with a fork or hand blender
  • Put the mug back in the microwave for 1 ½  minutes
  • Turn the mug round and give it another minute
  • Eat as it is or top with raisins, almonds, coconut shavings – whatever you like!

The small measure of maple syrup will give you that hit of sweetness and bananas are an instant energy boost. They’re packed full of fibre as well as potassium, calcium, iron and more!

Full recipe here.

Mackerel pâté

Easy to make, delicious and good for your brain too!

Ingredients
4/5 smoked mackerel fillets
300g Philadelphia soft cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of horseradish sauce

Method

•    Skin the mackerel (you can use tinned mackerel too)
•    Put the mackerel, Philadelphia, lemon juice and horseradish in a blender and blitz until smooth
•    Spread on toast, Ryvita, bread, crackers or wrap in a lettuce leaf – it’s very versatile!

The key to this pâté is the oily fish, so you can substitute salmon, trout, sardines or tuna in this recipe. They all contain Omega-3 fatty acids which have a whole range of health benefits but also play an important role in brain development and function. It’s thought they can also aid memory, raise your mood and improve your sleep!

Full recipe here.

Omelette

A speedy snack that packs a brain-power punch!

Ingredients
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp of oil
1 tsp of butter
Your choice of filling

Method

•    Season the beaten eggs with salt and pepper
•    Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan until the butter has melted
•    Pour the eggs into the pan, tilting slightly to cover the surface
•    Cook for a couple of minutes, until the egg has set
•    Scatter a filling (cheese, ham, sautéed mushrooms, herbs etc.) over the top, then fold in half with a spatula and serve

Eggs are your best friend when you need to work hard. Your brain converts their choline into acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps brain cells communicate with each other and keeps memories intact. Then there’s also cholesterol (for strengthening the cells and structures), antioxidants, protein and healthy fats.

For an extra boost, wilt a few leafy greens, like kale or spinach leaves, in the pan too. They're stuffed with nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that boost cell health and strengthen the brain. Lots of iron and potassium too, which improve brain function and increase oxygenation, making your brain work more efficiently.

Full recipe here.

A bowl of porridge with berries

Porridge with berries

Porridge is a breakfast winner as it takes a while for your body to digest, so the energy release is slower than many other foods. You’ll feel fuller for longer and won’t be so tempted to reach for the biscuits.

Ingredients
40g porridge oats
100ml semi-skimmed milk
75g berries (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries etc.)

Method

  • Put the oats in a saucepan with the milk and 300ml water
  • Cook over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring all the time, until the porridge is thick and creamy
  • Pour into a bowl and top with the mixed berries. Add honey and almonds if desired

Berries, especially blueberries, have a beneficial effect on your brain due to their high levels of antioxidants, the compounds that protect brain cells from damage. They also change the way the neurons in your brain talk to each other which can then prevent inflammation and improve your cognition and motor control.

Full recipe here.

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If nutrition is something that interests you, have you considered extending your knowledge by applying for a chef or air and ground steward role in the RAF? It might not be a career that you would normally associate with a military organisation but it's one that they couldn't function without.

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