On April 30th, the Sacred Kingdoms of Figueira Light-Nucleus(NLSR) in Brasilia, affiliated with the Fraternity – International HumanitarianFederation (FIHF), received a visit from Dr. Clara Takaki Brandão, a respected nutritionist, neurologist and paediatrician, who taught those present an enjoyable workshop on living and natural foods.


Dr. Clara has revolutionized Brazilian child nutrition with the creation of Multi-mixture flour, a food supplement that enriches the daily diet with the greatest possible variety of food available in each region.

The meeting at the NLSR

During the event done at the NLSR, Dr. Clara did not fail to address the importance of the Multi-mixture or the nutritional value of its ingredients. But the researcher’s instruction provided throughout the workshop was not limited to the preparation and use of the Multi-mixture; she also addressed subjects such as “food sovereignty” – the right of communities for a diet that includes accessible foods, which is to say, obtained in their own region – and “sustainable production” – according to which populations must be responsible for their own production systems. Dr. Clara also spoke about each of the premises of alternative foods, which are: high nutritional value, low cost, regionalized taste, quick preparation and ease of implementation.


She also highlighted the importance of using organic products in the food preparation, demonstrating that the current increase in the number of autistic children in the population would be associated with the indiscriminate use of pesticides, especially Glyphosate, a highly toxic element. Besides that, she recommended the elimination from the diet of products such as sugar, refined wheat flour, and all milk derivates.

A highlight of the meeting was the oddities that emerged about certain products. For example: in situations where there is a lack of potable water, an infusion of a few seeds of Moringa Oleifera is enough to purify a litre of water and make it suitable for human consumption. As for the squash, we learned that all of its parts can be used: rind, pulp, seeds, root and leaves. And that because it has complementary nutritional characteristics, all parts of this vegetable must be eaten, ensuring the greatest utilization of its nutrients and avoiding waste. In this context, we found that the popular cabotiá squash – also known as Japanese squash – is shown to be less nutritious than the other species, because as it’s a hybrid, the seeds are either absent or sterile.

Other examples of complementary foods: the pulp and rind of the organic green papaya; light green leaves (for example, lettuce) and dark green leaves (for example, spinach and manioc leaves), etc. Those foods, when eaten “in combination”, provide a greater nutritional quality in meals, providing satisfactory levels of daily nutrition with less amounts of foodstuffs: a positive point in combating obesity.

In the second part of the meeting, the workshop itself was done, with the preparation and tasting of recipes created by the speaker, based on “alternative food” principles: avocado Brigadeiro, soy cracklings, crispy farofa (a mixture of toasted flours), various salads, vinaigrettes, and delicious sauces. Everybody admired the creativity of the recipes, the speed of their preparation, the unusual way of using some of the products – all of them raw, and often, with the skin or rind -, and best of all: the unparalleled flavours of the combinations!

Multi-mixture and alternative food

Dr. Clara tells us that, on visiting a black pepper plantation, she noticed the presence of a kind of bran by each plant; asking the farmers, she discovered it was rice bran, a product used at that time to stimulate the growth of the plants.

Excited about the discovery, Dr. Clara studied the nutritional elements of the rice bran, finding in it a potential source of minerals. She introduced the product into the menu of childcare centres, and shortly thereafter noticed a significant reduction in cases of diarrhoea in the children.

To the bran, she added other bran flours and leaf powders rich in minerals and vitamins; thus the multi-mixture flour was created, or simply, “Multi-mixture’, made up of 70% rice or wheat bran, 15% manioc leaf powder, and 15% seed flour (sesame or squash).


Using menus enriched with Multi-mixture, she observed that in four months, the children were recovering. The results obtained were presented in Paediatric, Nursing and Nutrition congresses and seminars, until in 1983, Dr. Clara was honoured by the Brazilian Paediatric Society with the Álvaro Bahia Prize for the best work done in combating infant mortality.

In the article “Alternative Food”, Dr. Clara explains that the quality of food is connected with the variety, which is to say: it would be more nutritious to use less quantity and a greater variety of foods, than a large quantity and little variety. According to the authoress, the products used in the Multi-mixture could vary from region to region, but should be of a high nutritional value, low cost, have a good taste and are produced in the region.

Nutritional value of the Multi-mixture

In the case of the rice bran, Dr. Clara Brandão emphasized that the product is nutritionally much richer than polished rice, since the greater part of the nutrients are in the grain skin, which is eliminated during the “improvement” process.

As for the manioc leaf powder, she said it is rich in nutrients, especially selenium and zinc; she clarified that in the absence of this ingredient, it’s possible to substitute it with wheat flour, but she pointed out the large nutritional difference between these products:


On its part, sesame is an excellent substitute for common cow’s milk, offering ten times more calcium than the animal product, besides ensuring a greater sustainability in production.

Multi-mixture and the fight against child malnutrition in various countries

The success of Dr. Clara’s studies concerning the fight against malnutrition in children, and even adults, led the Pastoral da Criança (Children’s Pastoral) – a social organization connected with the National Confederation of Bishops of Brazil –, to adopt the formula proposed by the doctor. In 1985, the Pastoral began to teach mothers and community leaders what became known as “Alternative Food”, which consisted in adding a mixture made with flours and cereals, wheat and rice bran and dark green leaf powder, seeds and egg shells to the daily diet. Shortly thereafter, the founder of the Pastoral, the sanitary doctor, Zilda Arns, travelled throughout the country and the world, disseminating the advantages of this mixture, which in spite of its low cost, was able to bring about the recovery of the most severe cases of malnutrition.

These characteristics caused her nutritional education program against malnutrition to experience a rapid spread throughout the country; besides the Children’s Pastoral, the Community Health Agent’s Program (PACS), the Family Health Program (PSF), Caritas, Emater, Indagro, the Caravan of Life, some state governments, many municipal governments and innumerable ONGs began to use it in their citizenship activities.

At this time, because of the lack of consensus in the scientific community on the use of Multi-mixture, the National Coordination of the Children’s Pastoral stopped using this product as the “flagship” of its activities among assisted communities; meanwhile, the Pastoral does not stop defending “Enriched Food” as part of a daily diet for families, providing guidance on the best way for its preparation and the hygiene precautions necessary while handling the ingredients.

Brief story of the life of Dr. Clara


Always imbued with a strong interest in social issues, Dr. Clara Brandão began to participate in volunteer work while she was still in Highschool, increasing her involvement while studying at the São Paulo University (USP), where in 1969, she graduated in Medicine, specializing in Paediatrics, and later in Neurology, as well as during her residency in the paediatrics wing of the Hospital de las Clínicas (Clinics Hospital).

In 1972, already graduated and married, she went to live in the city of Miracema do Tocantins (TO), where together with her husband – also a doctor -, and other professional colleagues, she created the first Centre for Nutrition Education and Recovery.

Later, she moved to the State of Pará, where she came across the high degree of malnutrition in the children of the region, who suffered from ailments such as diarrhoea, hypovitaminosis A and anaemia. In 1975, living in Santarém, and motivated by a drought which produced a large number of undernourished people, she began research on regional food preparations available to the local population. She then founded the ONG Seara – Society for Studies and Use of the Amazon, and with the support of the Cocoon Program of the Brazilian Legion of Assistance – LBA, she established 13 childcare centres, which took care of 390 children.