My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.

24 Nov 2013

Morning "wake up!" smoothie recipe

This past week has been pretty intense! Last Sunday I had the great privilege of giving the keynote address at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition's graduation ceremony, where I shared some of my 16-year career experience and advice with the newest graduates, followed by full presentation days and biometric screenings at organizations across the GTA - all while trying to wrap up some projects and pack for a happily anticipated family vacation (nine of us are going!). 

So, when I awoke yesterday feeling anything but 100 percent, I could think of only one thing: smoothie (I am NOT getting sick on this vacation).

This recipe serves triple duty: 
1. It provides the 20 grams of protein needed in the morning to 'wake up' your brain; 
2. It provides 1,000 mg of omega-3 oil. DHA is the ultimate brain food;
3. It is filling, nourishing, balances blood sugar and it's immune-boosting.

1 cup raspberries or strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (whey, hemp or pea protein)
OR 1/2 cup organic Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla. Plain is preferred)
1 tbsp. omega-3 oil 
1/2 banana or 1/2 avocado
1/2 cup water plus 1/2 cup almond milk (you can substitute hemp or coconut milk instead, or skip the milk altogether and instead include 1 cup of water rather than 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed or chia seed

Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. For extra brain power and energy, you may also add a tablespoon of B-vitamin-rich nutritional yeast or some spirulina powder.  

Now that I feel rejuvenated, it's time to finish packing. Before I go, if you're looking for a list of foods that will boost your brain power and combat stress all day long, below is a brief summary of my "Brain Foods" workshop. See you in a couple of weeks!


The brain is a hungry organ. Though it makes up only 2 percent of total body weight, the brain uses up to 25% of the day's calories. The following nutrients are the key “brain foods”:

In the brain, glucose (sugar) has been found to measurably enhance mental performance, particularly long-term memory. Sustained mental performance depends on what kind of sugar you eat. Eat foods that are loaded with complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and fruit, whole grain breads, brown rice, potatoes, and beans. These keep blood sugar levels steady and brain power high for prolonged periods.

B Vitamins: 
Many carbohydrate foods are loaded with B vitamins - especially whole grains and dark leafy greens. B vitamins help build and maintain a healthy nervous system. They play critical roles in all brain functions, particularly mood and mental performance. Food sources of B complex: Dark leafy green vegetables, whole grains, wheat germ, Brewer’s yeast, beans, peas. Also in beef, chicken, eggs, liver, dairy products, and pork. 

Brain chemicals – neurotransmitters – are made from protein. Brain chemicals which enhance concentration and ‘mental energy’ are made from the amino acid L-tyrosine. Eat protein foods such as fish, chicken, and beef separate from carbohydrates. On the other hand, an important NT that calms the mind is serotonin. This “anti-stress” feel-good brain chemical slows down reaction time (mental downer), imparts satiety after a meal, and induces sleep. Serotonin is produced by the amino acid L-tryptophan. Tryptophan-rich foods include turkey, bread, pasta, rice, potato, pumpkin, milk, cereal, sunflower seeds. 

70% of your brain is fat! Omega-3 fats (fish oils) protect the myelin sheath. Eat fish 3 times each week, and/or take at least 1,000 mg of omega-3 oils daily (capsules or liquid). 

To keep your antioxidant defenses strong, consume at least 7-12 servings of antioxidant-rich foods each day: strawberries, carrots, spinach, cantaloupe and other brightly-colored fresh fruits and vegetables. Blueberries and blackberries are at the top of the list of brain-boosting foods because they are exceptionally rich in chemicals called anthocyanins, which are among the most potent antioxidants.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! I need one of these right now. I'm fighting off a cold and hopping on a plane tomorrow morning. Plus, I can clean out some of the fridge before my trip ;)