Did you know that the food you eat has a large effect on how well your brain is able to function? According to the Brain and Spine Foundation, the brain uses one-fifth of all the blood that's pumped from the heart. To provide it with the nutrients it needs to stay energised and efficient throughout the day, you should feed it plenty of fatty acids, vitamins, amino acids and complex carbohydrates. Try these recipes that include these essential ingredients.
1. Grilled Salmon and Kale Slaw
The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon make this recipe a brain-boosting meal for lunch or dinner. Vascular dementia can occur when people's cholesterol gets too high and it clogs the arteries so that not enough oxygen is reaching the brain. Oily fish like salmon are very effective at lowering cholesterol levels and keeping the brain healthy. The kale slaw also offers a good portion of leafy greens, nuts and vegetables for a fully balanced diet.
- 4 salmon fillets
- 1/2 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 lime, juiced
- 40g unsalted butter
- Black pepper
- Lime rind, grated
- 50g cashew nuts, toasted and crushed
- 2 beetroots, peeled and grated
- 100g curly kale, stalks cut away and very finely shredded
- 2 carrots, peeled and grated
- 1 eating apple, grated
- 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- Black pepper
Preheat the grill to medium and cook salmon for 10-12 minutes. As the salmon cooks, prepare the slaw by adding all of the slaw ingredients in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly. Once the salmon is done, remove from grill and set aside to prepare the lime butter. Combine the butter, salt, pepper, lime juice and garlic in a small dish and mix well with a fork. Serve the salmon with 1/4 lime butter mix and a side of kale slaw.
2. Stuffed Acorn Squash
Acorn squash (also known as pepper squash) is known for its high amount of B9, or folate, which enhances memory and brain function. The stuffing combines tasty ground pork, vegetables and whole grains for a delicious and nutritious meal.
- 4 small acorn squash
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 200g minced pork
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups cooked whole-grain rice
- 1 (10oz.) package frozen spinach, completely thawed, drained and chopped
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- Generous pinch sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 205°C. Cut 2 1/2cm off the top of each acorn squash and scoop out all of the seeds. If the squash can't sit upright on its own, cut off a small section of the bottom. Put one piece of the butter in the cavity of each squash and set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Set aside to prepare stuffing.
Brown the minced pork until no longer pink in a large pan over medium heat. Remove the meat from the pan and add olive oil. Saute the celery, onion and carrot for about 7-10 minutes, or until they begin to soften. De-glaze the pan with the white wine. Transfer pork to the pan along with the spinach, pine nuts, cooked rice, salt, pepper and oregano, to taste. Heat the mixture thoroughly for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and divide the mixture evenly among the squash. Top each squash with its lid and bake for 1 hour, or until the squash is tender. Serve immediately.
3. Red Rice, Spinach and Feta Salad
Red rice is a tasty wholegrain that's packed with fibre-rich complex carbohydrates that the brain needs to stay functioning. Compared to most other carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly. This allows them to offer the body a steadier release of glucose, which is what keeps the brain alert. This recipe also features a tasty combination of feta cheese, onions, parsley and pomegranate.
- 200g red rice (dried weight)
- 30g pine nuts
- 150g feta cheese
- 2 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced
- 100g baby spinach, sliced
- 20g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 80g pomegranate arils
- 1 tsp. whole-grain mustard
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
Boil a pan of water and place the red rice inside once bubbling. Cook for 20 minutes, or until grains are tender. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts for about 5 minutes in a small saucepan. Once cooked, drain the rice and cool under running water. Transfer to a large bowl and mix with the rest of the salad ingredients, thoroughly combining. Place all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Then pour over salad and serve.
At Gracewell care homes, we offer our residents a healthy menu in our stylish and cosy dining rooms and cafe. To find a location near you, contact us today.