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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

Eating to Thrive: An Interview with Brendan Brazier

Oct 31, 2011 09:39AM ● By Susan Aimes

Brendan Brazier

A former professional Ironman triathlete, two-time Canadian 50 km Ultra Marathon champion, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on plant-based nutrition, Brendan Brazier is the author of Thrive and Thrive Fitness, as well as the creator of Vega, a line of whole-food nutritional products.

Brazier’s latest book, Thrive Foods – 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health, is the result of his awakening to the realization that what he ate not only impacted his health and performance, but also the lives of others and the environment.

What was your inspiration for Thrive Foods – 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health?

I saw that there was a need for a collective understanding of the fact that as humans, our privilege of eating every day carries with it a responsibility to be aware of the environmental toll of food production. I wanted to educate people and help them recognize that it is collectively in our best interest to choose foods that not only are recognized for their essential micronutrients necessary for good nutrition and optimal health, but also require less of our precious resources to produce.

Compared to other books in your series, what’s different about The Thrive Diet: Whole Foods to Thrive and Thrive Foods?

While I created all the recipes in previous books, as well as some of the recipes in Thrive Foods, this time I satisfied my curiosity about how top-tier chefs would approach recipe creation using nutrient-dense, plant-based, whole food ingredients. I enlisted the help of several of my favorite chefs, including Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy’s Iron Chef competitor; Matthew Kenney, founder of the 105degrees Academy; Chad Sarno, current R&D chef for Whole Foods Market’s company-wide healthy eating initiative, Health Starts Here; Julie Morris, a Los Angeles-based natural food chef; and Tal Ronnen, who prepared plant-based meals for Oprah Winfrey’s 21-day vegan cleanse. Several recipes are from my favorite North American restaurants: Candle 79, Millennium, Blossoming Lotus and Cru, among others.

The 200 delicious recipes are health-boosting, easy on the environment and in alignment with my five guiding principles: Eliminate biological debt and acquire energy through nourishment, not stimulation; go for high net-gain foods; aim for a high percentage of raw and low-temperature-cooked foods; choose alkaline-forming foods; and avoid common allergens.

I also introduce the nutrient-to-resource ratio, which considers the amount of each natural resource that goes into food production in exchange for the amount of nutrients offered. Based on these findings, I then make suggestions as to which foods are most beneficial to personal health and environmental preservation. The goal is simple: Get as high a level of health-boosting micronutrients from food as possible, while expending the smallest amount of each natural resource to do so. Essentially, it’s a mathematical way of saying plant-based whole foods make a lot of sense.

Do you have any favorite recipes?

It’s challenging to pick, because they all taste great. My top three are: Breakfast Blueberry Chia Pudding, Wild Rice with Kabocha Squash and Sage Butter, and Raw Zucchini and Carrot Lasagna with Almond “Ricotta,” from Ravens’ Restaurant.

Brendan Brazier will speak at Ada’s Natural Foods Market, 4650 S. Cleveland Ave., Ste. 12 (in the Burlington Coat Factory Plaza), Fort Myers, at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 17. For more information, visit BrendanBrazier.com. Also visit AdasWholeFoods.com.

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