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9 energy-boosting foods to keep you going all winter long

Are the dark days of winter sapping your get-up-and-go? These nutritionist-approved dishes can pep you up again.
butternut squash and chickpea thai green curry with quinoa
Go with whole grains, like quinoa. The combination of slowly-digested carbs, fiber and protein deliver a sustained energy release to keep you going strong for hours.Haoliang / Getty Images

When the shortest, darkest days of the year take over, who doesn’t want to curl up on the sofa? But before you do, try these invigorating foods and drinks. They’ll give you the energy boost you need to outsmart that winter slump.

1. A veggie omelet

Put down the bagel and cream cheese. Whip up a protein-packed vegetable omelet instead. According to a recent study, people whose diets included ample protein were less likely to battle excessive daytime sleepiness than those who ate more fat and carbs.

2. Fortified whole-grain cereal

Iron builds healthy red blood cells that shuttle energizing oxygen throughout your body. But if you’re a woman, or you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you might be falling short. Whether it’s for breakfast or a quick snack, a bowl of iron-fortified whole-grain cereal can help. Some brands pack an entire day’s worth per serving, but not all do, so compare labels.

3. A coffee banana smoothie

Not much of a breakfast eater? Try sipping a coffee-spiked smoothie. In addition to jumpstarting your day, its caffeine has been shown to speed reaction time, so it can also make you more productive. And if caffeine gives you the jitters, even decaf can improve alertness, according to a recent study published in the journal Nutrients.

4. Quinoa bowls

Your brain gobbles up 20% of your body’s carbohydrates every day. That’s more than any other organ in your body. But when it comes to brainpower, some carbs are better than others. Refined grains, like white rice, provide a quick rush of energy that’s inevitably followed by a steep crash. Go with whole grains, like quinoa, instead. Their combination of slowly-digested carbs, fiber and protein deliver a sustained energy release to keep you going strong for hours.

5. A spinach-kiwi salad

Vitamin C does more than just fortify your immune system. It’s also a natural energy booster. And a kiwi-and-spinach combo does double duty! Toss 2 cups of baby spinach and 1 diced kiwi into a salad and you’ll net nearly an entire day’s worth of vitamin C.

6. A salmon salad sandwich

Several recent studies find vitamin D deficiency and fatigue go hand in hand. Trouble is, very few foods contain meaningful amounts of this hard-to-get nutrient. That’s where canned salmon comes in. Other than cod liver oil, canned salmon boasts more vitamin D than any other food. In fact, one small 3 ½-ounce serving contains more vitamin D than most adults need in an entire day.

7. Roasted pumpkin seeds

These little gems are loaded with magnesium, a mineral that’s involved in more than 300 chemical reactions body-wide, including energy production. Munch on an ounce of roasted pumpkin seeds and you’ll reap more than a third of your daily magnesium. You’ll also walk away with a bonus 8 grams of satisfying protein.

8. Whole-wheat linguine with clam sauce

Up to 15% of Americans are deficient in vitamin B12, putting them at risk for weakness, fatigue and nervous system issues, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. One easy way to get more: Toss a heaping handful of clams into your pasta. Per ounce, they supply more than 10 times the B12 you need in a day.

9. Hot chocolate

When the weather turns colder it can be easy to forget to drink up. Trouble is, even slight dehydration can take a hidden toll on your mental energy, according to studies. Say hello to hot chocolate. Made with milk, it’s surprisingly hydrating. When researchers tested the hydrating ability of popular beverages, like sports drinks, soda, orange juice, water and milk, milk ranked number one. Plus cocoa is a stealth source of iron, so drink up!