Brain Food!

Okay, I know this title could mean any number of things. Food for thought… epiphanies… statements about the brain… random facts…. whatever. I mean it more literally.

You ever notice that certain food or meals have that Thanksgiving Meal effect? You eat and all of a sudden you’re tired… yawning… unmotivated… can’t think… just want to spend the rest of the day laying on the couch in your PJ’s and watch TV? Well, just like how some food have this effect, some other foods have the opposite effect and can energize you, improve your focus, and increase productivity for a couple of hours at least.

I call these Brain Foods =)

This actually originated from when I was pregnant with my 2-year-old son. I was tired quite a bit because he was so active and zapped the energy right out of me. Even though I only gained 5 pounds throughout my entire pregnancy, it was really strange because I was napping almost daily and not extremely active. My eating habits were phenomenal, though, and some of this I try to keep in my routine now, too, simply because I feel much better when I have a healthier diet.

Anyone with kids and a busy lifestyle or someone who has a lot of things going on will be able to appreciate the Brain Food idea. I was pregnant and attending online college, had 2 other kids, too, was working from home, and – believe me – when you live in a large household, the amount of chores you end up doing go way up! Between homework, two kids, feeling exhausted, 3-5 loads of laundry a day, and work, I needed this kind of food to help keep me going and motivated. And who couldn’t use more energy in a day?

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So, what are some of these Brain Foods?

Cereal. No, not the sickly sweet disgustingly sugary kids’ cereals, either. I’m talking Honey Bunches of Oats, Shredded Wheat, anything that has some substance to it and will help you feel energized. A little sugar is okay; just not something like Cocoa Puffs or those tiny little sugary bits. Yucky.

PBJ’s! Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. These are an absolutely awesome Brain Food. You eat one and feel energized and filled up without feeling like you just ate a pound of rocks (something I notice happens to me when I eat fast food – yuck). There’s also some sugar involved here, but only enough to give you a boost and without being sickeningly sweet or the bad kinds of sugar.

Fruit. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as taking a bite out of a nice, crunchy, juicy apple… they taste so good! Again, some sweetness, some natural energy, delicious little snack, and it can be filling with a bit of peanut butter to dip the apple slices in. Even dried fruit is awesome for you – try snacking on some banana chips. I know it sounds weird to some who haven’t tried them or to those who aren’t dried fruit fans, but banana chips are actually really good.

Trail Mix! This is one of my personal favorites. M&M’s, mixed nuts, raisins, absolute deliciously filling, snackable energy-booster. What more could you want? If you’re having issues focusing or have that 2pm “need a nap” feeling, this is a good way to energize without resorting to more coffee or energy drinks. Definitely more natural – and way more delicious!

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Sunflower nuts. No, not sunflower seed with the shells all covered in 20 pounds of salt – the pit of the seed. I personally like to put sunflower nuts and dried cranberries – which are a “super food” full of antioxidants and healing attributes, mind you – on a nice, fresh salad, maybe with a little shredded cheese and some sesame ginger dressing or vinaigrette. This kind of salad is surprisingly filling because of the cheese and the sunflower nuts, yet refreshing and crunchy at the same time. I may try to add some mandarin oranges next time I have one…. Yum!

Cucumbers! I love cucumbers. To munch on raw, to slice into thin little slices and add some salad dressing to, or just thrown in with a salad. Any way you have them, cucumbers are refreshing, delicious, and delightfully crunchy.

There you have it. My very favorite brain foods. In general, if it’s fresh and not greasy, you’ll get some energy from it. I also enjoy having raw onions and tomatoes to snack on, because the onions have a bite and you can slice them up and put them on toast with some butter or cream cheese and a touch of garlic salt.

My aunt was recently visiting us from Germany and introduced me to all sorts of yummy breakfast and meal ideas, a lot of which I still have an absolute love for… especially the onion/toast combo. Who knew that I loved onions so much? I didn’t…. Learn something new every day!

If you have your own Brain Foods you’d like to share, please feel free to comment! I’m always looking for new ideas to try out in the kitchen, and can never have too much energy! The household is a busy, chaotic hive of activity, so I have to be able to keep up!