Brain Food

Chocolate PB Protein Smoothie

You know those mornings when you’re trying to get to the bottom of what your kid wants because they don’t seem to understand that it is unreasonable to throw a temper-tantrum at an hour in which you haven’t yet had enough caffeine to think properly? Then all the sudden it clicks and you’re like “oh I see - you’re STARVING and none of your usual breakfast items will work because you want dessert for breakfast…of course. I can’t believe it took my sleep-deprived brain so long to figure that out…” Well - this is my solution for that. And if I’m the only one who deals with those wacko AM scenarios then fine - I acknowledge my kids have questionable tastes. Anyway, here’s a smoothie good enough to qualify as dessert and still packed with nutrients, fat and protein to keep a tummy full and happy.

Ingredients:

1/2 banana, frozen

1 cup chocolate almond milk (could also use regular - this just amps up the chocolate flavor)

1-2 Tbsp peanut butter

1/2 - 1 Tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 Tbsp chia seeds

Big handful spinach

1 scoop vanilla protein powder or collagen peptides

2-3 ice cubes

Directions: Place all ingredients in high-power blender and blend until smooth. Add more almond milk (or water) as needed. (Hint: I like to blend up my spinach and oats in the almond milk first then add everything else - I think it’s the best way to ensure a smooth texture.)


Banana - rich in fiber, antioxidants, and nutrients such as potassium and magnesium

Peanut Butter - good source of protein and fat to fuel the brain and body

Rolled Oats - excellent source of carbs and fiber to support heart health, provide nutrients, increase satiety and support healthy blood sugar regulation

Chia Seeds - nutrient-dense with fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids along with an extensive profile of other vitamins and minerals

Spinach - leafy greens to support brain health and overall healthy body function; good source of iron, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C to support immunity

Protein/Collagen - added protein supports muscle development and tissue function as well as keeps you full for longer

3 Brain-Powering, Kid-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

I'm really into brain health. I think it's fascinating how sensitive our brains are and how what we eat and drink can drastically effect how our brains function. One of the best books I read last year was Genius Foods by Max Lugavere and it really propelled me to start thinking about why we teach kids in school so many amazing life skills and we expect them to sit still and engage and learn and absorb all the information we throw their way and yet we don't teach them (or their parents) how to optimize their brain function for just that.

One of my {many} goals for my girls is to teach them how to fuel their brains for success BEFORE they're off to fend for themselves at college. Good habits start young and feeding kids (and ourselves - let's be real) foods that support healthy brains at breakfast can be a game changer for mood, energy, and performance. Here are 3 ideas for brain-positive breakfasts that kids will actually want to eat (because at least in my house nobody is touching any smoked salmon at 6:30am)…

Blueberry Oatmeal Smoothie: blueberries, oatmeal, spinach, almond milk, honey, ice, sprinkle of cinnamon blended together in high speed blender.

  • The Brain Boosters -

Blueberries - the poster child for brain food, blueberries are antioxidant powerhouses that protect our brains from degeneration and stress.

Oats - the grain FOR the brain; oats are a good source of B vitamins, potassium and zinc - all which help the brain function at the optimal level.

Spinach - jam-packed with good-for-your-brain nutrients with the star of the show being the B vitamin folate which has been shown to reduce levels of homocysteine - a compound that is toxic to your neurons (hint: the basic working unit of your brain).

Upgraded Breakfast Sandwich: scrambled egg, mashed avocado, shredded spinach, salt and pepper on toasted, thin-sliced Dave's Killer Good Seed bread.

  • The Brain Boosters -

Egg - the choline found in the yolk of an egg is absolutely essential for mood, memory, and mental function; egg is also a good source of B vitamins folate and B12 of which the link has been made between deficiency of these and depression.

Avocado - with plenty of vitamin K and folate, avocados help improve overall cognitive function - particularly memory and concentration. Not to mention your brain is the fattiest organ in your body and needs the healthy fats found in avocados for fuel.

Seeds - nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E which is essential for boosting cognitive function

Coconut Yogurt & Nut Butter Bowl: unsweetened coconut yogurt, scoop of almond butter, frozen (or fresh) berries, finely chopped walnuts, drizzle of honey

  • The Brain Boosters

Coconut Yogurt - dairy-free and filled with probiotics; a happy gut = a happy brain*

Almond - almonds are relatively good sources of lean protein for a boost of energy, brain cell repair and improved cognitive functions including memory.

Berries - berries get their superpowers from carotenoids and flavonoids - two classes of phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are important dietary components in memory performance.

Walnuts - 60 percent of your brain is made up of DHA - an omega-3 fat found in walnuts (among other foods). I like to finely chop the walnuts to sprinkle on top, especially for kids who may not be ready for large, crunchy chunks.

*NOTE: you could sub regular dairy yogurt for the coconut yogurt but keep in mind too much dairy can be inflammatory - ultimately having the opposite effect on your brain. I like the unprocessed nature of homemade coconut yogurt - it’s tasty and so good for your tummy. Here's a super simple coconut yogurt tutorial.