This is the first installment in a new series on practical, informative healthy brain food recipes. Enjoy!
This dinner is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids – both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)- along with a wide range of antioxidants, including flavonoids and curcuminoids.
Omega 3 sits squarely in the concept of “What’s good for the heart is good for the brain.” Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive effects on the cardiovascular system, and it also reduces plaque buildup in arteries. In addition, DHA & EPA are necessary for cognitive health, especially for learning and memory.
The brain is especially vulnerable to oxidative stress, which increases the risk of cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Flavonoids and curcuminoids have wide ranging antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and can be found in a number of fresh vegetables, spices, and beans.
Everything in Moderation
Routine, moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower rates of heart disease, ischemic stroke, and lower risk of dementia. This health association generalizes to wine, beer, and liquor/spirits.
Moderate amounts of alcohol raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good” cholesterol), and higher HDL levels are associated with greater protection against heart disease.
In practical terms, moderate alcohol use means 1 (one) drink per day, typically with the evening meal.
See below for detailed recipe ingredients and suggested preparation.
Roasted Kale Salad w/Kidney Beans, Walnuts & Chia
- – 1 large bunch curly kale, rinsed, drained and dried well
– 3T extra virgin olive oil, divided
– 2 (15 oz.) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
– 1 cup raw walnut halves
– 1 avocado, cut to 1 inch cubes and tossed in citrus juice
– 1T chia seeds, divided
– zest and juice from one small valencia or navel orange
– 1 large navel orange, segmented and then segments/supremes cut into halves
– 2 tsp. honey or agave syrup
– 2 tsp. chives, finely minced
– 1/2 tsp. cumin
– 2 tsp. kosher or sea salt, divided
– 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
– finishing salt for garnish, optional
Roasted Kale Salad w/Kidney Beans, Walnuts & Chia Preparation
After kale has been thoroughly dried, remove stems and leave kale leaves in rough, large pieces. Toss with 2 tsp. olive oil and place on baking sheet. Roast in oven @ 400F for 10 – 15 minutes, checking to be sure kale gets browned well but does not burn. Remove from oven and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Set aside.
In small cast iron or non-stick surface skillet, heat walnut halves over medium-low heat, stirring regularly with wooden spoon until aromatic and lightly golden brown (5 – 7 min.). Remove from pan and set aside.
In small bowl, combine orange juice, orange zest, honey, chives, cumin, 1 tsp. salt, pepper, 3 tsp. chia seeds and 2 1/2 T olive oil. Whisk well to combine and emulsify to form chia dressing. In small mixing bowl, combine kidney beans and chopped orange segments/supremes. Pour dressing over mixture and toss well to combine.
To plate salad, form bed of roasted kale leaves at base. Sprinkle evenly with dressed kidney/orange mixture. Top with avocado and toasted walnuts. To garnish, sprinkle remaining chia seeds and finishing salt over top.
Coffee-Spice Rubbed King Salmon
- – 1.5 lbs wild king salmon belly filet, cut to 4 pieces of equal thickness
– 4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil plus extra for brushing grill pan
– 1/4 c espresso coffee beans
– 1T cumin seeds
– 1T yellow or brown mustard seeds
– 1T coriander seeds
– 3T brown sugar
– 2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
– 1 tsp. ground new mexico hot chile powder
– 1 tsp. ground black pepper
Coffee-Spice Rubbed King Salmon Preparation
In small cast iron or non-stick surface skillet, combine cumin seeds, mustard seeds and coriander seeds. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, just until seeds become hot and fragrant. Remove from heat and pour into spice grinder.
Add espresso beans to grinder and grind fully to form finely ground spice mixture. Pour ground spices into a bowl and add brown sugar, salt, chile powder and black pepper. Toss well to fully combine.
Brush cast iron grill pan with light coating of olive oil. Heat grill pan on stove top burner over medium-high heat.
Brush salmon pieces with one tsp. olive oil per piece and pat tops generously with spice rub mixture, fully coating tops of each piece of salmon. Place rubbed salmon pieces skin side down onto preheated grill pan. Allow to cook on stove top for 3 – 5 minutes. Then transfer salmon to preheated oven @ 400F. Roast for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with turmeric risotto with toasted flax seeds.
Turmeric & Toasted Flax Risotto
- – 2 cups arborio rice
– 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
– 1 large shallot, minced
– 1T extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 cup medium dry white wine such as pinot grigio or other italian white wine
– 5 cups chicken stock
– 2 tsp. turmeric
– 1/4 c toasted flax seeds
– 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
– salt to taste
Turmeric & Toasted Flax Risotto Preparation
In stainless steel risotto pan or braising pan, add 1T olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add minced shallot and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add in Arborio rice and stir well with wooden spoon to evenly coat rice with oil mixture. Cook rice for 2 – 3 minutes, until lightly toasted and aromatic.
Add wine and continue to stir until liquid has been absorbed. Begin adding hot chicken stock, one cup at a time, stirring regularly until each cup has been absorbed. After broth has been added (about 20 minutes), stir in turmeric and black pepper.
Cook, stirring regularly for 2 minutes. Add flax seeds and stir for 2 more minutes. Once rice is tender and still a bit al dente, remove from heat and allow mixture to sit for 2 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately.