I’ve been meaning to try some recipes from the two Thrive books I bought after reading about them on Peas and Thank You, and this past weekend I finally had the chance. I’ve really enjoyed Brendan Brazier’s writing so far and plan to buy his third book soon. He shares a lot of interesting information about stress, sleep, fitness, and nutritious foods, and I like that his recipes are health-focused. Of course I love all my cookbooks that focus on taste, but lately I’ve been wanting some that show me how to combine nutritious ingredients in simple, practical, everyday ways. (I also love The Moosewood Restaurant: Cooking for Health and The Kind Diet for catering to nutrition more than the average cookbook.)
One point in Thrive that really resonated with me is that eating poorly creates “nutritional stress” on the body and in turn makes us feel stressed. Nutritional stress is brought on by eating too many refined, unhealthy foods, or not eating enough nutrient-dense, whole foods. Brazier says that nutritional stress accounts for a whopping 70% of all the non-beneficial stress on our bodies, while only 20% is due to psychological stress. Isn’t that shocking? I definitely would have thought those numbers would go the other way around.
So, anyway! I collected some unfamiliar ingredients and tried out a few recipes from Brazier’s books. (By the way, a fair number of the same recipes are featured in both books, so you may not want to buy copies of each without flipping through them and considering which one meets your needs better.)
I made the Toasted Chia Ginger Pear Cereal first. It definitely felt healthy and filling, but I wasn’t a big fan of the strong ginger-protein powder-molasses taste. I may play around with the recipe a bit and see if there is another similar way to combine a lot of the ingredients. I like the idea of the protein powder being in there, I just don’t like tasting it so overtly. My husband enjoyed the cereal more than I did though, so there is one vote of confidence!
My favorite recipe so far is the Coconut Orange Squares. They combine dried coconut, orange zest, vanilla, cashews, macademia nuts, and dates into frozen bite-size bars. They have a smooth coconut flavor when they’re frozen, and a satisfying bite without being heavy. I am hoping they will be a good thing to have hidden in the freezer when I want just a little something sweet.
If you click to page 272 in the google books link for the squares, you’ll find the second recipe that caught my eye: Spiced Acai Energy Bars. They are also a bite-size frozen treat, and pair acai powder with ginger, cinnamon, dried apricots, chia seeds and almonds. I prefer the mellower, sweeter flavor of the coconut orange squares, but these are pretty good too, especially once you freeze them. Have you ever tasted acai powder plain before? Weirdly, it kind of reminded me of GrapeNuts cereal. I know that is a strange thing to say. So, although I thought the ginger came on a little strong at first, once frozen it complemented the acai nicely and was much less overbearing.
Yes, I had a great workout after eating a few of the squares and bars, arguably my best since returning from France, oh, 6 months ago. But that also could have been due to the fact that it was a weekend, I was well-rested, and football was on TV. (My sister claims that watching ESPN at the gym makes her feel more athletic, and I have to agree. Unfortunately for me, it seems like the TVs at the gym only work about 25% of the time. So much for that extra boost to my fitness regimen!)