SUPPORT YOUR SLEEP NATURALLY WITH MELATONIN

MELATONIN-BOOSTING CHERRY, PISTACHIO & COCONUT BLISS BALLS

After a long trip to Canada this summer, I was struggling with a serious case of jet lag. That’s when I got the idea to create some nutritious melatonin-rich snack balls to naturally support the sleep-wake cycle. Not only are they bursting with melatonin-rich foods, but they taste absolutely delicious and take 10 minutes to whizz together (scroll down for the recipe). 

Melatonin – the basics

Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps to control your daily sleep-wake cycle. Your internal body clock and light exposure are two important influences on melatonin production. So when it’s getting dark melatonin production increases and when the sun rises in the morning it decreases. As you might have guessed this is most likely why many people struggle to get out of bed in the winter months when it’s still dark in the mornings! 

So why don’t you just take a melatonin supplement if you are struggling to sleep? 

Well of course you could, but I will warn you that if there’s one piece of knowledge I can pass on after years of working as a nutritional therapist.. it’s that the body is a very sensitive and complex system. It relies on a delicate balance, natural cycles and unless absolutely necessary the best thing you can do is to nudge things in the right direction, rather than charging in there with supplements straight away!

Most people understand melatonin in a pretty basic way (see above) and that’s great, but it is important to consider that nothing works in isolation in the human body. There are networks of hormones and a huge number of influences (external and internal) that affect everything, the sleep cycle included.

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Nature’s melatonin

Something that is often overlooked when it comes to melatonin is food! Many foods are naturally rich in melatonin and eating melatonin-rich foods can significantly increase melatonin in human serum, naturally assisting sleep.

Some of the best melatonin-rich foods include nuts (particularly pistachios), oats, rice, barley, tart cherries, grape skins, cranberries, fish, eggs, milk, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, legumes and seeds.


MELATONIN-BOOSTING CHERRY, PISTACHIO & COCONUT BLISS BALLS

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup / 50g rolled oats 

3/4 cup / 60g desiccated coconut

1/2 cup / 75g cashews

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp cashew butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup / 50g pistachios

1/3 cup / 50g dried Montmorency cherries (I used the brand Cherry Active)

METHOD

1. Ground the oats to a fine powder in a food processor. 

2. Add the coconut, cashews, maple syrup, cashew butter and vanilla and blend until smooth, the mixture should start sticking together once ready. This will take a few minutes in a high-powered food processor. 

3. Lastly, add the cherries and pistachios to the mix and pulse a few times until combined and roughly chopped.

4. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of the mixture into your hands and firmly press/roll into balls. Refrigerate until set.

Enjoy after dinner for a melatonin-rich treat.

MELATONIN-BOOSTING CHERRY, PISTACHIO & COCONUT BLISS BALLS

MELATONIN-BOOSTING CHERRY, PISTACHIO & COCONUT BLISS BALLS

A final word

Remember that melatonin is just ONE of the factors that affects your sleep. If your underlying issues are stress, pain, lack of routine, TV/phone screens or anything else, then these factors will need to be addressed too.  

Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409706/#B212-nutrients-09-00367


Author: Sasha Paul, Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist
Food Photography: Magda Tymczyj

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