Brain Food

For me, trying to move my family to healthy eating is a slog.  A marathon.  A never-ending battle.

In one corner, we have my convictions that they will be physically, intellectually and emotionally healthier if they are given healthy fuel for their growing bodies.

In the other corner we have some really strong opponents.  Taste buds that are motivated by sugar and salt and a food industry that has decades of research on how to make the foods they sell taste best to consumers. Confusing information about nutrition and food guidelines from the government, industry and doctors. Fatigue, stress and hungry kids. (I dare you to have no plan and quickly come up with healthy food options for kids who are melting down. Try offering them a salad instead of granola bars, and see what happens.)

So recently I had my own mini-crisis. I’ve been happily plant-based for two years, but then read a book by a well-known MD and started questioning. Maybe animal products aren’t so bad. Maybe a couple of cage-free, organic, pastured eggs for breakfast every day would be good for me. Maybe bacon, chicken and beef aren’t so bad. It’s fascinating to me how quickly my brain is able to adapt it’s views of what is and is not healthy. However within two weeks of adding back meat and more eggs my acid reflux, constipation and generally feeling poorly was back.

I connected with some other MDs, and asked their opinions re: the theories put forth by Dr. X, and the responses ranged from “that doesn’t sound right to me, there is a lot of research to the contrary” to “This is simple. This particular doctor is motivated by making profits and selling books and supplements.”

How Not To Die.jpgI’ve discovered that what I feed my brain is as important as what I feed my body. And I’ve got some new food for my brain. The book “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger. I was extremely pleased that in the forward of his book he notes that all of his speaking fees and book profits go to charity. I was more pleased at the solid research he uses to inform his advice. And I’m even more pleased that after a week of returning to a whole-foods, plant-based diet I feel more energetic and my abdominal symptoms are completely relieved.

So, for my kids, I’m back in the ring and ready to fight. This morning I won two out of three matches (kids) with Chocolate* Pancakes.

The * is for the hidden ingredients… whole-grain flour, about 3 cups of spinach, 3 tablespoons of ground chia seeds, two cans of  organic coconut milk.

I’m not a chef, and I’m confident others could improve on my recipe. Especially since I’m not big on measuring, I’m more of a “concept cook”.

But in case you want to give it a go, here’s the approximate recipe:

  • 1 tub organic spinach, blended in vitamix with 1-2 cups water
  • 3-4 tbsp chia seeds, ground and mixed with about 3/4 cup of water to make a goopy paste (egg substitute)
  • 2-3 cups whole-grain flour (I used wheat)
  • About a cup of baking cocoa
  • About a cup of coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Two cans organic full fat coconut milk

Mix everything well to pancake batter consistency. You may need to add more or less water or flour. Cook on a griddle like regular pancakes, although these are slightly more delicate conventional pancakes. Top with strawberries. Or (sigh) jam.  Because to win the war, I’m going to need to compromise on a few battles.

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