Eat Like You Give A Fork, with Mareya Ibrahim

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

In the final episode of a week-long series on nutrition, Tana Amen is once again joined by Mareya Ibrahim, the “Fit Foodie.” In this final episode, Mareya gives some of the top tips from her new book “Eat Like You Give a Fork” to arm you with the proper information and motivation to start the process of changing your eating habits for a healthier brain and a healthier life.

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Dr. Daniel Amen Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen-
Tana Amen: - and I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain, and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years, using tools like: Brain SPECT Imaging, to personalized treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutrisuticles to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Welcome back! So, we are still talking about "Eat Like You Give a Fork", which I think is so amazing, and we're gonna do our giveaway. I'm with Mareya Ibrahim, who's just an amazing person, so inspiring. I cannot believe you're 50, like-
Mareya Ibrahim: Right back at you mama. I'm like, you make me look good just being sitting here next to you.
Tana Amen: No you're so beautiful, oh you are just so beautiful. So, and it really is a testament to what you do everyday. And so, I mean you can't see this, she's incredibly fit. So, we're gonna do that giveaway. And, in this episode, I wanna ask you, before we get started, what are your favorite snacks? So I think it'd be fun for us to do a follow up.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah!
Tana Amen: And convert people's, you know what we did on Recipe Rehab?
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah totally!
Tana Amen: Let's find someone's favorite snacks that are really unhealthy, and figure out how to convert it.
Mareya Ibrahim: I love that idea.
Tana Amen: So I know that's what I've done in my cookbooks, and I'm feeling that's what you've done in yours-
Mareya Ibrahim: Oh yeah!
Tana Amen: - cause I'm looking at the cover, and I'm like "I know strawberry ice cream isn't healthy"-
Mareya Ibrahim: There's some fun stuff.
Tana Amen: - but I know you, so I know you've made it healthy, right?
Mareya Ibrahim: Coconut and ice cream.
Tana Amen: There you go.
Mareya Ibrahim: You know?
Tana Amen: So, let's talk about the strategies, and the actually your favorite recipes. Let's just get into the recipes.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: Let's talk about how you make this easy for people. I'm gonna guess you've got snacks, and desserts, and stuff like that.
Mareya Ibrahim: Oh yeah, because-
Tana Amen: Fast food.
Mareya Ibrahim: - nobody wants deprivation. So, being a single mom of two, you know, balancing a business, and trying to do everything else, like you've gotta make it quick.
Tana Amen: You have to make it quick.
Mareya Ibrahim: Ain't nobody got time to be in the kitchen all day.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I'm not even a single mom anymore, and I'm on the go nonstop, it's so fast pace, our lives are.
Mareya Ibrahim: It is. So, you know, first of all, really adhering to a meal prep day-
Tana Amen: Right.
Mareya Ibrahim: - where we get our produce washed and prepped. We get some grains-
Tana Amen: I do the same thing.
Mareya Ibrahim: - cooked up, proteins cooked, and then a lot of it's mix and match.
Tana Amen: You know, we'll grill like a dozen chicken breasts, and boil a whole bunch of eggs, and do all that stuff.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah, exactly exactly. You know, another thing that I try and do is just really get the kids involved, so that their part of the process-
Tana Amen: I was just gonna ask you that, cause that's what I do in my house.
Mareya Ibrahim: - yeah. They're part of the process, they enjoy it.
Tana Amen: It becomes a family thing.
Mareya Ibrahim: 100%, because the truth is, when they're engaged, they're gonna be so much more likely to eat and drink what you're preparing.
Tana Amen: If they're invested. For sure.
Mareya Ibrahim: I did a demo at Whole Foods, and I had a little 3 year old boy who came out and made a smoothie with me, and he was putting the kale in the blender, and his mom was crying, because he wouldn't eat his greens at home.
Tana Amen: But now he would try it.
Mareya Ibrahim: But he blended it, and drank-
Tana Amen: He at least tried it.
Mareya Ibrahim: Oh, and he drank it!
Tana Amen: Oh that's fantastic!
Mareya Ibrahim: Oh yeah! When they're involved, they're more than 85% likely to actually try it. So-
Tana Amen: Oh that's so fantastic.
Mareya Ibrahim: You wanna get your kids to try it, get them in the kitchen.
Tana Amen: Oh I love that.
Mareya Ibrahim: But, none of the recipes-
Tana Amen: You know, the other thing I saw was that my husband cooks with me now, and that didn't used to happen.
Mareya Ibrahim: That's so great.
Tana Amen: So it's really fun, yeah.
Mareya Ibrahim: I think that's so sexy.
Tana Amen: Yeah, it's really fun. It is sexy right? I'm like, you wanna do something sexy for your wife or your girlfriend, -
Mareya Ibrahim: Get in the kitchen.
Tana Amen: - cook, or vacuum. But cook!
Mareya Ibrahim: I love, or do the dishes, that helps too.
Tana Amen: Yeah, my husband does all the dishes.
Mareya Ibrahim: God, what a man.
Tana Amen: No, I know, it's crazy right?
Mareya Ibrahim: What a man.
Tana Amen: I should stop saying this or you're gonna be like, "what"?
Mareya Ibrahim: What a man.
But none of the recipes in here take longer than half an hour because I know that people really are on the go. But the smart snacks, the substitutes, the things that you can take on the road with you, plentiful. There's great hummus recipes in here. One of my favorites is a no-bake oatmeal chocolate chip peanut butter cookie.
Tana Amen: Oh yeah. And I've tasted your peanut butter balls-
Mareya Ibrahim: So good.
Tana Amen: - I don't know if those are in here, your protein balls?
Mareya Ibrahim: A variety of them-
Tana Amen: They're so good.
Mareya Ibrahim: - they're made with dates, the one's in here.
Tana Amen: They're so good.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah, yeah. Oh I remember, you like them!
Tana Amen: No, I was like, I'm taking some of these on the road cause'-
Mareya Ibrahim: I love it.
Tana Amen: - I hadn't eaten, we were speaking-
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah I remember that event, yeah.
Tana Amen: - and we were doing a big demo, and I was like I'm so hungry, and you were like, oh I have something for you.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: I'm like, I need 3 more of those.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes, yes I love that.
Tana Amen: So they were so good.
Mareya Ibrahim: So, it's about balance. And, one of the things about the book, all of the recipes are essential amino acid balanced.
Tana Amen: Oh I like that.
Mareya Ibrahim: So, you know, people in the fitness industry, body builders-
Tana Amen: Yeah, no, I always take my branch chains and-
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah, exactly. We know that this is the key to building muscle, and to feeding every part of your hormones too. So, all of the recipes are amino acid balanced, and I think that this is really important for people to understand. Even if nutrition is not something that you have a background in, knowing that getting those into your body everyday is truly important cause' your body doesn't store them.
Tana Amen: Well and that's one of the things, there's so many vegans. Okay, that's another thing, I don't have a dog in that fight, I don't care if you want to eat meat, don't want to eat meat, it's not for me to, I'm not the judge and jury on that. I just don't care. If it's important to you, that's what I care about.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes.
Tana Amen: Right? So, but what I do care about very much, is that people are healthy, regardless of which way they go, so that they pay attention to the quality of the food they eat, they pay attention to how clean their food is, which is what I like about your book.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes.
Tana Amen: And, that if you are a vegan, you are making sure you get all of your amino acids-
Mareya Ibrahim: 100%.
Tana Amen: - so even like our vegan protein powder, we put all of the [inaudible 00:05:55]amino acids in it.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah! And I have a section, one of the strategies is eating vegan twice a week.
Tana Amen: I like that.
Mareya Ibrahim: And it's giving your digestion a break-
Tana Amen: I do that actually.
Mareya Ibrahim: - yeah! And it's compressed, it's an intermittent 8 hour period that you're eating vegan, but our bodies just naturally want to cycle.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Mareya Ibrahim: Some days we eat more, some days we eat less, and this is encouraging that.
Tana Amen: And I do that, and I tend to interment and fast everyday anyways just cause' naturally, I just can't eat a big thing in the morning. I just can't. So I've learned to do my interment and fasting that way.
Mareya Ibrahim: There's so many benefits from it, but even in those vegan recipes, you're finding the amino acid balance-
Tana Amen: I love that.
Mareya Ibrahim: - You know, you're combining grains, and legumes, and I don't know, Tana I know there's a lot of people out there that say "don't eat grains", and "don't eat beans"-
Tana Amen: I think it depends.
Mareya Ibrahim: - I'm not of that, I'm not in that camp.
Tana Amen: So I do think it depends. What we do, is we will put people, we don't start with no grains. We will start people on an elimination diet of no gluten.
Mareya Ibrahim: No gluten, yeah.
Tana Amen: So, I actually work with so many different types of people. If they are severely diabetic, if they are very fragile, I will remove all grains initially, and then we'll re-introduce the non-gluten ones, but what I do is I have them flip it. It's our society makes grains their staple.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes.
Tana Amen: Well we do is, we have them flip that, so that their greens and their veggies are their staple, your grains, if you're gonna have them, they're a side.
Mareya Ibrahim: They are almost like a condiment-
Tana Amen: So, they are the condiments.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes, exactly I [inaudible 00:07:19] on that.
Tana Amen: That's what I actually call them. So, your grains are now a condiment. We'd rather you eat non-gluten ones if gluten effects you. And so, they'll ask me, "what about oatmeal", or whatever. It really depends on you. Cause' I just told you, I was having trouble, I actually have gotten really skinny after that surgery, I don't know why. It's a weird thing, I think it has to do with my thyroid medication after going through a hysterectomy. I got super skinny, lost a bunch of muscle, cause I'm hyper-thyroid.
Mareya Ibrahim: Oh, yeah.
Tana Amen: I suddenly had to put grains back in my diet. I was getting too skinny.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: So, I used to not even eat a lot of fruit. I used to eat very much caveman style.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: Right? And all of the sudden I'm like, "I need carbs".
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes, yes.
Tana Amen: I have to have carbs, or I'm gonna just waste away.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: I work with a lot of police officers, that they workout really hard. I workout with a lot of athletes. There's no way I'm training these people without grains.
Mareya Ibrahim: Well-
Tana Amen: It's how you do it, and make it healthy.
Mareya Ibrahim: - like you said, so there's a chapter in here, and it's about single ingredient gluten-free grains. And, those single ingredients are where I want people to focus.
Tana Amen: Right.
Mareya Ibrahim: So it's like, the black rice.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Mareya Ibrahim: And the kamut.
Tana Amen: Yes.
Mareya Ibrahim: And the amaranth. And the teff, and all of these ancient grains that have significant nutrition in them, you know? And if you are vegan, which a lot of our followers are vegan or vegetarian, it's so important that you're combining those with the right foods to get your complete set of amino acids also.
Tana Amen: Well, and that's the other thing, if someone's vegan, what are they gonna eat?
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah, exactly! And that's what I think. And, I know that there's the jury, it's kind of divided, but what I'm saying is, that is not the focus necessarily if you're an omnivore, it is an option.
Tana Amen: Right.
Mareya Ibrahim: But, I want you to think of the single ingredient grains, and starchy vegetables sort of in the same, sort of, realm.
Tana Amen: I don't know what you think about this, I've never been of the mindset that everyone needs to eat the same, that's why when people come in here, the first thing we do, it needs to be your plan-
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes.
Tana Amen: - not everybody's plan.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes.
Tana Amen: Right? So, there is no one plan that's perfect for every person on the planet.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes.
Tana Amen: That's what bothers me.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: So, and that's why I don't care about if you're interested in being a vegan or not, because what we're gonna do, is we're gonna actually test your blood. That's why I like working with chefs, right? Because it's like the perfect compliment to what we do. So, if you come in to see us, we're gonna test your blood. We're gonna test your profile, your fatty acids. We're gonna tell you what's missing.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes.
Tana Amen: It has nothing to do with what plan is out there, it needs to be your plan.
Mareya Ibrahim: Well, and I think what's different about "Eat Like You Give a Fork", versus other "plans" or popular, let's just call them popular diets out there right now, is there's really no food group that I've said stay away from. The dairy that I do encourage is more around non-cow dairy-
Tana Amen: Me too, yeah. Very much, that's what we said.
Mareya Ibrahim: -sheep's milk, yeah.
Tana Amen: All the studies indicate-
Mareya Ibrahim: Exactly, like you'll see feta cheese in here. You will see some Greek yogurt in here. If it bothers you, you can certainly do a coconut yogurt.
Tana Amen: Or go lactose free, or go with sheep's milk yogurt.
Mareya Ibrahim: Exactly, but I think-
Tana Amen: Or coconut milk yogurt.
Mareya Ibrahim: Coconut milk yogurt, yeah is a great option. But, so I think, you know, it's forgiving, and at the same time, it's very personalize-able because it gives you options to be able to mix things up.
Tana Amen: I like that.
Mareya Ibrahim: If you are plant based 100%, and you don't eat meat, then you can go with the plant based options only, but what I'm saying is, don't think only about what you're eliminating. Really focus on-
Tana Amen: What you get, yes!
Mareya Ibrahim: - what you're keeping in. What are you eating?
Tana Amen: What can you have?
Mareya Ibrahim: Cause' there are plenty people that label themselves, and when you really examine what they're eating it's not sustainable for the long run.
Tana Amen: No.
Mareya Ibrahim: Like cheese and cracker vegetarians. That's not gonna get you to where you want to be.
Tana Amen: No, and I tried, this is why I say every plan doesn't work for everybody. I tried being a vegan, I actually was a vegan for 3 years. I was not healthy as a vegan. I was a pretty extreme athlete at the time, more than I am now, and I'm still pretty athletic. And I was so hungry all the time, that I found myself eating a lot of carbs, only I have diabetes in my family, and I tend to be very insulin-resistant.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes.
Tana Amen: But I was too hungry without it. When I tried going to raw food, not gonna work.
Mareya Ibrahim: I was the same. I was a vegan for 5 years, and what I found though, is unless you really have a strong personal-
Tana Amen: Ethical.
Mareya Ibrahim: Reason, it's not a healthier option.
Tana Amen: Right.
Mareya Ibrahim: I think we can agree on that. Going that way is not healthier.
Tana Amen: But what is healthier, is making sure your meat is clean, and what we do often tell people is eat less of it.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah!
Tana Amen: Yeah, so have a little less of it-
Mareya Ibrahim: Choose it wisely.
Tana Amen: - make plants your base, make that your staple, plant based foods, and then just add a little clean protein.
Mareya Ibrahim: That really is the philosophy of the book, and I have a whole section for greens. Greens are so important that they have their own chapter-
Tana Amen: I like that.
Mareya Ibrahim: -their own strategy. It's called, "Get Up On Greens", and I talk about how, from a culinary perspective, to bring out the best flavor in greens-
Tana Amen: Tell me a couple of your favorite snacks. Oh my God that's so pretty.
Mareya Ibrahim: The best kind of date balls are really pretty amazing.
Tana Amen: Are those sort of like the protein?
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: Look how pretty that is, oh that's so pretty.
Mareya Ibrahim: I love the sun dried tomato hummus because-
Tana Amen: Yum!
Mareya Ibrahim: - I love the umami flavor and the sun dried tomato.
Tana Amen: Oh they're there!
Mareya Ibrahim: But that's kind of [inaudible 00:12:35]. We've got matcha, we've got-
Tana Amen: Just gorgeous, I'm trying to show this.
Mareya Ibrahim: - the peanut ones, the coconut ones-
Tana Amen: Very beautiful. It's a beautiful book.
Mareya Ibrahim: Thank you, and I love a quick meal that I can pull together. I love to grill, so the bison kofta burger that's on the cover is like, kofta is a big part of my Middle Eastern background.
Tana Amen: I love that, us too.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah, so it's got a lot of flavor in it-
Tana Amen: Fantastic.
Mareya Ibrahim: - you can serve it on a lettuce bun, and it's just very satisfying.
Tana Amen: I love that!
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: There's so much in here.
Mareya Ibrahim: Pickled vegetables on top, that's how I eat my burger.
Tana Amen: Love it!
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: And pickled vegetables, they're fermented.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yes! Fermented food's awesome for you. I show you how to make your own in there.
Tana Amen: Oh! That's really great!
Mareya Ibrahim: "Quick pickle".
Tana Amen: That's a really great thing.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: You have the cutest names. "Eat Like You Give a Fork", The Real Dish on Eating to Thrive. I like that, The Real Dish on Eating to Thrive. Beautiful book, I really love it! So, I want you to tell them once again where they can find it.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah! So, beginning June 4th, it'll be in bookstores everywhere, nationally available. It's also on our website at, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, really wherever you shop for books. And if you like it, I would love to hear it!
Tana Amen: Yeah we wanna hear it.
Mareya Ibrahim: Because I love that feedback.
Tana Amen: Well, and I know I've worked with you enough that I already know her food's amazing, so I know you are an amazing chef-
Mareya Ibrahim: Thank you.
Tana Amen: - and I know your simple recipes that I've seen you demonstrate taste ridiculous-
Mareya Ibrahim: Thank you.
Tana Amen: So, that's the whole point is to make-
Mareya Ibrahim: Make it simpler.
Tana Amen: - healthy food, medicine-based quality food taste delicious, that's the whole point.
Mareya Ibrahim: So that you don't even know-
Tana Amen: No, you're eating healthy.
Mareya Ibrahim: -that you're focused on eating something that's balanced and clean, and I think we have to redefine a little bit what healthy even means.
Tana Amen: Yeah, yes we do.
Mareya Ibrahim: Cause' like people-
Tana Amen: They're so confused.
Mareya Ibrahim: - so confused.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I agree with you. And so, I'm excited. I want you to tag us, so they can tag you at eat clean?
Mareya Ibrahim: Eat cleaner.
Tana Amen: Eat Clean-er. And you can tag me at Tana Amen, and please answer our question that we asked in the beginning, so what are your favorite snacks that you know are not healthy, that you'd like to see become healthy. I think we could actually do something fun with that.
Mareya Ibrahim: I think this would be great! We should get in the kitchen and do that.
Tana Amen: I know right. We should do that.
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah we should.
Tana Amen: So, if you wanna see us get in the kitchen, and rehab something-
Mareya Ibrahim: Yeah.
Tana Amen: - let us know. That's been what the whole premise of what I do is rehab-ing stuff, but more from a standpoint of health professional. So, partnering with someone who is really more of a master chef would be really fun.
Mareya Ibrahim: I would welcome that, I think that'd be a lot of fun.
Tana Amen: Fantastic.
Mareya Ibrahim: Maybe we could even, well we'll talk about it.
Tana Amen: I see those ideas.
Mareya Ibrahim: I have some ideas.
Tana Amen: I have a feeling I know what you're gonna say.
Mareya Ibrahim: I have some ideas.
Tana Amen: So yeah, so let's do this. We wanna hear from you. Thanks so much Mareya-
Mareya Ibrahim: It's such a pleasure.
Tana Amen: - you're amazing. So, hope you enjoyed this, let us know the best parts. Can't wait to hear from you.
Mareya Ibrahim: Thanks.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode, and while you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen If you're interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code: podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.