“The Blue Zones diet is a compilation of the eating habits of people who live in the the five ‘Blue Zones’ regions— Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California—which Dan Buettner and his team of researchers have determined have the longest-living people in the world,” explains Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD. While culinary traditions vary greatly between these regions, there are some commonalities Buettner has distinguished. For one, folks in the Blue Zones eat predominantly plant-based meals, which include plenty of nuts, beans, fresh produce, and whole grains. Foods with lots of added sugar as well as processed foods don’t play a big role in their diets.
These blueberry muffin energy bites are a prime example of a snack that fits the bill when it comes to longevity-boosting benefits. Rizzo says that the plant-based ingredients used—oats, chia, blueberries, almond butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon—provide an ideal combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat for a well-balanced snack. “These energy bites would also make a great post-workout recovery snack, since the almond butter has protein and healthy fats, two satisfying nutrients that aid in muscle recovery,” she says.
The best part of this Blue Zones-inspired recipe isn’t just the delicious taste and bounty of benefits—it’s the fact that you can make them in five minutes, no baking required. Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of the blueberry muffin energy bites, as well as how to make them.
Longevity-boosting ingredients in the blueberry bites
Oats are a complex carb that provide long-lasting energy made power you through everything from a long workday to an arduous workout. “They also contain a special fiber called beta-glucan, which interferes with cholesterol absorption,” says Rizzo. “That means eating oats can help lower your LDL blood cholesterol.”
Blueberries are packed with vitamins, minerals, and inflammation-fighting antioxidants and fiber. “Specifically, blueberries contain a group of polyphenols—plant compounds—called anthocyanins, which give them their blue color,” explains Rizzo. “These polyphenols have been linked to significant heart health benefits.”
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain healthy omega-3 fats, fiber, and protein, which may help in the regulation of blood sugar as well as reducing cardiovascular risk factors.
4. Almond Butter
Almond butter has protein, fiber, and healthy fats without any added sugar, which, according to Rizzo, can help keep you energized and satiated. “Snacking on almonds—and in this case, almond butter—is excellent for longevity, as almonds are rich in magnesium, which aids in the production of energy in the body and supports a healthy immune system,” she adds.
5. Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup (read: not the fake syrups with added sugars) contains riboflavin, aka vitamin B2, and manganese, which are essential for proper cellular and metabolic functioning. “It’s also a rich source of easy-to-digest carbohydrates, which are the primary fuel source for exercise,” explains Rizzo.
Not that we need more excuses to sprinkle cinnamon on everything, but in addition to being one of the most delicious, cozy spices, research suggests that the cinnamon has polyphenols that fight inflammation and affect immune response. “It is important to note that the amount of cinnamon used in research is much larger than one person uses in a recipe, but it’s still worth adding this delicious spice to your food,” notes Rizzo. Cinnamon is also known for helping with blood sugar regulation, which may be helpful for regulating your mood and energy levels.
Blueberry Muffin Energy Bites Recipe
Makes 12-14 bites
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats or quick oats
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 Tbsp chia seeds
3/4 cup almond butter
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1. In a large bowl, stir together all ingredients until well combined. Roll into 12-14 balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.