While all snacks have the potential to provide a little momentary joy, some ingredients are legit scientifically proven to boost your mood. It’s why herbalist, holistic health coach, and founder of plant-based company Supernatural, Rachelle Robinett loves experimenting in the kitchen with herbs that are known to provide a pick-me-up.
One in particular is called mucuna pruriens, which is literally nicknamed the "dopamine bean." Considering that dopamine is commonly referred to as the "feel good chemical" in the brain, that's one pretty spectacular nickname. You know that quick jolt of pleasure you get when someone likes one of your Instagram posts or gives you a hug? Well, Robinett explains that feeling comes from dopamine being released in the brain—and eating mucuna pruriens just so happens to be a way to get this jolt from nature.
"[Mucuna pruriens] is a legume native to tropical Asia and Africa," Robinett explains in the video above. Here in the U.S., you can find it at some herbal stores or on Amazon from companies including Nova Nutritions ($20), Samsara Herbs ($15), and MB Herbals ($9). "When it's dry and ground, mucuna pruriens is about 15 percent l-dopa, and l-dopa is a direct precursor to dopamine in our bodies," Robinett says. "So it’s helping support our body's natural production of dopamine."
On its own, ground mucuna pruriens tastes bitter and similar to coffee. The flavor pairs well with sweet-tasting, plant-based foods, like dates and vanilla—which is exactly what Robinett pairs it with to make her happiness-boosting bliss balls. Also in the recipe are soaked cashews, gluten-free oats, and Himalayan salt. The oats and cashews both give the balls great fiber while the nuts up the protein.
All you need to do to make the bliss balls is combine all the ingredients together in a blender, roll the mixture into little balls, and let them hang out in the freezer. That's literally it. Then, you have 'em ready to enjoy for breakfast, a snack, or, as Robinett says, "whenever you want a little bit of feel good."
Get the recipe below, then watch the video to see how to make them and learn more about mucuna pruriens. Once you have your ingredients ready to go, you're just 10 minutes away from pure snacking paradise.
Yields 10 servings
1. Place all ingredients in high-speed blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
2. Roll dough into balls and put in the freezer until solid.
3. Sprinkle with cinnamon, vanilla powder, or even more mucuna powder. Enjoy!
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