“Simply by starting to cook again, you declare your independence from the culture of fast food. As soon as you cook, you start thinking about ingredients. You start thinking about plants and animals and not the microwave. And you will find that your diet, just by that one simple act, that is greatly improved.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I care about your mind. Most of what we talk about here at Book Oblivion has to do with reading and feeding your mind the best literature and knowledge this world has to offer.
The underlying motivation of this is an understanding of neurogenesis or brain plasticity. Please don’t let me lose you. It’s a simple concept and more recent development that spits in the face of the old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Actually, you can.
The implications of this are huge. It’s why I can teach 60 year old veteran how to read in my classroom, and it’s why you can actually pick up a language in your 40s. Simply put, this is why we need to continually take care of our minds as we grow older.
You are not destined to the same mental illness of your mother or father, even if your genetics suggest you are predisposed to it. And it’s in this vein that Rebecca Katz researched the best foods for your brain. She pieces together her collection of delicious recipes in the cookbook, The Healthy Mind: Big-Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity.
And while I care about your mind, I also care about my own brain and the cognitive function of my husband and developing brains of my kids. Since high school, I’ve recognized how our food choices affect mental clarity and focus, as well as athletic performance.
Because of that, this cookbook was a must read for me, and I want to give you a snapshot of the wealth of information provided.
The specific everyday brain maladies the author battles with food are things like depression, ADHD, forgetfullness, agitation, brain fog, and fatigue, among others.
What I appreciate most is the list of ingredients and their healing properties. The culinary pharmacy, as she calls it, is grounded in research, specifically, “peer-reviewed scientific studies backing the claims for every ingredient in the book,” which if you ask me, is far more convincing than old wives’ tales.
Here is the list of ingredients and foods she breaks down:
- BEEF AND BISON (GRASS FED)
- BELL PEPPERS
- BLACK COD
- CHICKEN (ORGANIC OR PASTURE-RAISED)
- CHILE PEPPERS
- CILANTRO, CORIANDER
- COCONUT MILK
- GREEN TEA
- LEGUMES (BEANS, LENTILS, AND PEAS)
- LEMONS AND LIMES
- OLIVE OIL
- PUMPKIN SEEDS
- SALMON (WILD)
- SESAME SEEDS
- SUNFLOWER SEEDS
- SWEET POTATOES
- SWISS CHARD
Each ingredient above is listed in the culinary pharmacy. Most of us know blueberries are good for the brain, but how many of us know why? Here is her easy-to-comprehend, conversational style in which she teaches us about them:
BLUEBERRIES: Cognitive functioning. Memory. Neuronal health. Blueberries are a boon for the brain. The flavonoids they deliver help delay cognitive decline in older people. Blueberry consumption may also improve memory and help neurons survive. This latter result seems to be related to the high level of antioxidants in blueberries, which helps promote a balanced metabolism that enhances nerve communication.
And the author does this for every single food listed BEFORE she gives us delicious recipes to try.
And so that you know how creative and delicious the food sounds, I’ll give you a few highlights from each chapter that I’ve tried or that I think look and sound delicious:
- Soups: Summer’s Best Roasted Tomato and Red Bell Pepper and Gingered Butternut Squash Soup with Walnut Cream
- Vegetables: Avocado Citrus Salad Soup and Ginger Lime Sweet Potato Mash
- Meat and Seafood: Shrimp Stuffed Avocados and Grilled Bison Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Crispy Shiitakes
- Anytime Foods: Double Red Pepper Hummus and Triple Green Frittata
- Dollops: Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette and Meyer Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Tonics and Elixirs: Chamomile Lavender Lemonade and Brain Berry Smoothie
- Sweet Bites: Slow-Roasted Spiced Peaches and Julie’s Best Nectarine Blueberry Crisp
Cooking is not my favorite pastime, but I do it, and actually enjoy it when I have the confidence that what I am creating is both delicious and healthy. By incorporating even a few of these recipes into your meal plan, you will enhance the brain function, mood, memory, and mental clarity of your family. Now how many cookbooks can promise you that?
I received this book from the Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review, but you can buy it HERE. Happy cooking and happier thinking!