I woke up missing the south of France! I once lived in Monaco for 4 months and would go to Nice to eat my favorite street food: SOCCA. Made from chickpea flour, socca is naturally gluten free, vegan and has a bit of protein. Traditionally you’d eat socca plain, but I like to top it with anything I’m craving to make a pizza/crepe like meal. In the photo below I went with wilted arugula, spicy chicken sausage and sautéed onion and red peppers.
Combine and mix all ingredients well in large bowl. Coat a hot non-stick pan with oil. Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan and shift it around until it thinly covers the entire base of the pan evenly. Cook for 3 min and flip-the edges should be crispy. Drizzle with oil (I use flax) and salt and pepper.
Yields 4-5 pancakes
- 2 cups chickpea flour
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Cumin
In my last blog entry I discuss some brain boosting foods that help you focus fast and sustain your energy throughout the day.
Here is my absolute favorite food for thought, an Almond Butter Berry Bowl. I originally created this bowl for an article on SimonSAID, but am so obsessed with it I had to share it here. Unpeel and freeze bananas in a plastic bag or Tupperware in advance. Using frozen opposed to fresh banana and berries will create the thick, satisfying smoothie bowl you are hoping for. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. My favorite post workout meal to date!
1 Cup Frozen Mixed Berries
1/2 Frozen Banana (I always keep peeled and bananas in a Ziplock in my freezer!)
1 Scoop Protein Powder
1 T Almond Butter
1 T Chia Seeds
3/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk (1/2 cup for even thicker bowls)
Top with your favorite brain foods— I used dark chocolate, blueberries, whole grain granola and shredded coconut.
Photos by Nikki Dalonzo
Wardrobe and kitchen accessories from Simon Malls
These days your mind is at a constant tug of war with so many worlds. While you can’t tell the world to stop spinning, you can take control by feeding your brain with the nutrients it craves. Using food as fuel you can funnel your focus, harness a sense of control and turn your mind into an ally. While a venti triple dirty chai sounds like the perfect pick me up to focus fast, you risk a heavy crash. Whether for a meal or on the go, nutrient dense foods with a balance of healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein will sustain your energy level when you need it most.
In creating this balance, there are certain foods you can incorporate that contain especially powerful brain boosting properties:
Flavonoids are an important component of berries. Not only do the flavonoids give the berries their gorgeous color, they feed the hippocampus which is the portion of your brain responsible for memory and learning. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power helps your blood flow through your body and to your brain without inhibition.
Like coffee, dark chocolate is a natural stimulant but has a fraction of the caffeine so you can get a boost, but avoid the crash. 1 ounce of dark chocolate (5-6 squares) contains ¼ of the caffeine in an 8 ounce cup of coffee. Like berries, dark chocolate contains flavonols and antioxidants which can do the work so your attention span doesn’t have to.
Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir and kimchee help balance the bacteria in your gut referred to as your gut microbiome. “The key to optimizing our cognitive and physical health lies in the health of our gut. When we feed our gut a healthy diet we are truly fueling maximum health,” explains Bruce Lowell MD of Lowell Metabolics.
The benefit of eating your greens is no new news but, recent studies link the consumption of 2 cups of greens per day with a lower level of cognitive decline*. Greens such as spinach, kale and swiss chard are loaded with Vitamin A, and folic acid which has been shown to improve mental clarity.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are especially high in good fat and vitamin E. Both properties help keep your heart healthy and brain functioning properly, increasing focus and concentration.
Click here for my favorite food for thought… an almond butter berry smoothie bowl!
Photos by Nikki Dalonzo
Wardrobe and kitchenware provides by Simon Malls
It’s a chewy nutty bowl of fall comfort. I am loving changing up my normal breakfast routine with these savory oats. Anything goes, especially when you dress the final product with flax oil to tie it all together. I keep it dairy free by use nutritional yeast, but I imagine it being next level with cheddar cheese! Enjoy.
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil
Add 1/2 cup of Steel Cut Oats and pinch of salt. Lower heat to simmer for 5 minutes until water is absorbed. Stir every minute.
Stir in desired amount of Nutritional Yeast (I added 1 T) or Cheddar Cheese for dairy eaters.
In a separate pan, sauté kale with olive oil. I like to let the kale rest in the pan while on high heat so it chars 🙂
Fry an egg, scoop and avocado, throw it all in a bowl.
Drizzle with Flax Oil. This ties the elements together and adds a delicious nutty flavor. Flax oil is packed with good omegas and fiber.
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dance rehearsals are long and snacks are essential. They need be quick bites, easy to eat, non-bloating and energy packed. I recently teamed up with friend and fellow professional dancer Liana Blackburn to share a dance and a snack.
Liana, fresh off the road touring with Selena Gomez as dance captain, is the creator of a YouTube series called Daily Dancer Diet. Not only does she share my passion to dance but also to nourish our bodies with delicious, REAL food. We challenged each other to bring dance snacks that catered to both of our allergies and food intolerances. Liana: gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free. Meagan: allergic to peanuts/nuts (almonds ok) and fish. We danced and snacked the afternoon away full of energy. Of course these snacks aren’t just for your dance bag, they’re great for travel, at your desk, pre or post workout.
Meagan’s Dance Snacks
- BERRIES: Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries. Berries are a no brainer- they are are easy to grab on the go, the sugar keeps your energy high and the antioxidants help keep your memory sharp.
- ALMOND BUTTER FILLED DATES: Because of my nut allergies, it’s difficult for me to eat protein bars. Most bars contain a variety of nuts or are processed in a facility containing nuts. Barney Butter is an almond butter that is processed in a peanut free facility. That being said, most bars contain a few solid bites of protein, fat and sugar. This is essentially what these almond butter filled dates provide: The pitted date is packed with natural sugar and the almond butter carries the protein and fat. You can get creative and sprinkle some coconut flakes, bee pollen, or chocolate chips on top. The sky is the limit!
- POPCORN: I’m addicted to homemade popcorn! It’s so easy. Coat the bottom of a pot with high heat oil like sunflower oil, coconut oil, or canola oil. Pour a layer of kernels to fill the bottom of the pan. Cover and pop until you hear a couple of seconds between kernels popping. I top mine with Flax Oil, turmeric, cayenne, salt and Nutritional Yeast. The flax oil and popcorn itself has a lot of fiber to keep you full as you burn calories while sweating. Turmeric and cayenne are anti-inflammatory and fire up your insides. The Nutritional Yeast contains the vitamin B12 to keep your energy up. This popcorn was left over from last nights’s Netflix and chill so I packaged it up and brought it to the studio.
Liana’s Dance Snacks
- JICAMA WITH LIME: Jicama is so underrated! It’s a vegetable but its juicy, sweet and crunchy texture is refreshing. Liana explained that since the flavor is subtle, it takes well to anything you pair with it. She skinned the jicama, cut it into easy to grab sticks and smothered them with lime juice.. so good!
- MARY’S GONE CRACKERS: Mary’s Gone Crackers are gluten free, dairy free and nut free. They’re jammed with fiber and are super durable so they wont turn into dust in your dance bag. Once a specialty item available at those niche health stores, these crackers are now on most major grocery store shelves and come in several delicious flavors.