Smart Plants: Power Foods & Natural Nootropics for Optimized Thinking, Focus & Memory

Image of Smart Plants: Power Foods & Natural Nootropics for Optimized Thinking, Focus & Memory
Release Date: 
December 17, 2019
Sterling Epicure
Reviewed by: 

“There aren’t many cookbook authors who offer the reader the reasoning behind eating a meatless diet and the properties of plants that benefit the reader.”

Have you ever walked into a room to retrieve something and then forgotten what it was that you were looking for? Have you ever begun to introduce a colleague and found that their name was erased from your memory? Where does that loss of memory come from? Is it part of the aging process or is it the beginning signs of dementia?

According to Julie Morris, author of Smart Plants, that embarrassing experience never need happen. She has authored a book that explains how to optimize one’s memory. Her book is enthusiastic about plants, power foods, and nootropics. Nootropics are not well known, but Morris believes that “natural nootropics can change your life.”

Nootropics are simply plants. They improve memory while elevating mood. They lower anxiety and alleviate stress. The best thing about nootropics is that they are just plants. Nootropics are “smart drugs” that improve cognitive functioning. They are found naturally in plants and in nutritional supplements. 

Nootropics, which we ingest in food, augments our mental energy. Morris names this process “upgraded brain power.”

One might need to take a leap of faith when implementing some of Morris’ suggestions. Nootropics do not necessarily taste good, some might call them pungent, but when added to a smoothie or to other foods their bitter and unpleasant taste disappears.

Part I of this book focuses on the benefits of nootropics. One of the more fascinating facts discovered in Smart Plants is that cognitive function is impacted not only by the brain but by all parts of the body especially the gastrointestinal tract. Fact number one: The gut is often referred to as “the second brain.”

Science requires trust.

There is an array of scientific information in part one of the book. For instance, the brain is dependent on the gut for its productivity and health. Reishi mushrooms and lion’s mane, considered the “smart mushroom,” encourage both a healthy gut and a robust brain by strengthening both the gut and the brain by annihilating chronic inflammation.

The author gives examples of how to incorporate these medicinal foods into our diet. Lion’s mane, also known as “hedgehog mushrooms,” are best used as a powder. She offers recipes that include lion’s mane in smoothies and cookies. Her thesis is supported by many studies especially a Japanese study done in 2010 on a group of depressed women. There was significant reduction of depression after ingesting these mushrooms.

Part II focuses on the recipes. The author includes 65 recipes and methods that emphasize eating foods that enhance one’s memory.

The recipe section begins with spring which is a time of renewal, followed by summer and fall. Winter brings the recipes and seasons full circle, although that is not where the book ends. As if trying to fit in the last tidbit of information the author includes a section on rituals. “Rituals are recipes that are a part of your daily brain-building practice.”

Rituals comprise recipes that could easily become everyday favorites. There are smoothies that produce different feelings and emotions. A banana-nib smoothie creates calm. The blueberry-almond smoothie is beneficial for memory, and the creamy mango smoothie helps the reader to focus. The author continues with latte recipes and small bites that also enhance a variety of moods. The lemon hemp bites are a good between-meal snack and enhance creativity during a late afternoon lull.

Section II of the book offers an abundance of flavorful options. The carrot and pea farro risotto, made with farro instead of rice, is enhanced with pureed carrots instead of cheese. The yellow miso paste and nutritional yeast can be found in any grocery. The miso adds a mild, earthy flavor while some claim that nutritional yeast adds a cheesy component. There are recipes for almond ricotta, a delightful cauliflower-leek soup made with cashews, and red pepper frittata cups made “sans” eggs.

With each meal one begins to feel healthier and “smarter.”

Julie Morris’ food is easy to make while offering unexpected twists. Although similar to other plant-based books, Julie Morris furnishes the reader with invaluable scientific information. There aren’t many cookbook authors who offer the reader the reasoning behind eating a meatless diet and the properties of plants that benefit the reader.