Here are some more brain food suggestions for satisfying, healthy meals that are favourites with readers.
Quick Spinach Smoothie
Small cup of orange juice
3 – 4 dessertspoons of plain white yogurt
Add all the spinach that the blender can handle.
Optional extras: protein powder, frozen banana, frozen cranberries.
Raspberry, Avocado and Mango Salad
Pureed berries give the tangy wine vinegar dressing a creamy texture that gently clings to the lettuce and fruit. This is a salad to enjoy when fresh berries are in the market.
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, divided
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 cups mixed salad greens
1 ripe mango, diced (see Tip)
1 small ripe avocado, diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts, or sliced almonds (see Tip), optional
Puree 1/2 cup raspberries, oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender until combined.
Combine greens, mango, avocado and onion in a large bowl. Pour the dressing on top and gently toss to coat. Divide the salad among 5 salad plates. Top each with the remaining raspberries and sprinkle with nuts, if using.
TIPS & NOTES
Tips: To dice a mango:
1. Slice both ends off the mango, revealing the long, slender seed inside. Set the fruit upright on a work surface and remove the skin with a sharp knife.
2. With the seed perpendicular to you, slice the fruit from both sides of the seed, yielding two large pieces.
3. Turn the seed parallel to you and slice the two smaller pieces of fruit from each side.
4. Cut the fruit into the desired shape.
To toast chopped or sliced nuts, heat a small dry skillet over medium-low heat. Add nuts and cook, stirring, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
Per serving: 229 calories; 16 g fat (2 g sat, 12 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 8 g fiber; 82 mg sodium; 613 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (70% daily value), Vitamin A (60% dv), Folate (36% dv), Potassium (16% dv).
Guacamole-filled Portobello Mushrooms
These are absolutely delicious, easy to make and filled with potassium for a healthy brain boost.
1 clove garlic, pressed (divided)
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch coriander (cilantro)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Portobello mushrooms
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Remove the Portobello stems. Mix ½ clove pressed garlic with the balsamic vinegar and spoon this mixture over the Portobello caps. Set aside while you prepare the guacamole.
Put the other ½ clove pressed garlic in a bowl with the olive oil, lime juice, and avocado. Mash with a fork.
Remove the coriander (cilantro) leaves from the stems. Wash and spin-dry the leaves. Chop finely.
Stir the chopped cilantro into the avocado mixture. Taste, adding more lime juice if necessary.
Bring a stovetop grill plate to high heat. Place the mushrooms on the grill for about 2 minutes per side. If you don’t have a grill plate, put them in the oven under the broiler.
Using an ice cream scoop, form balls with the guacamole and place them on the mushrooms before serving.
Salmon and Asparagus Spring Rolls
Filled with smoked salmon, these spring rolls are tender-crisp with asparagus and plenty of fresh herbs. Spring rolls look impressive but they are actually easy to make. To simplify the process, lay out all the ingredients you need to make the rolls near your work surface before you begin.
Makes: Makes: 12 rolls
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
FOR THE SPRING ROLLS
24 thick or 36 thin asparagus spears (2 bunches or around 2 pounds)
8 oz or 200gms of smoked salmon
12 8-inch rice-paper wrappers (see Notes)
1 ripe avocado, cut into 24 slices
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons mirin (see Notes)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more to taste
To prepare spring rolls:
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large skillet. Trim asparagus spears (about 6″) and add to the boiling water until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes.
Drain; refresh under cold water. Cut each spear in half lengthwise.
Cut salmon slices into 12 strips around 6 inches each.
Soak one wrapper at a time in a shallow dish of very hot water until softened, about 30 seconds. Lift out, let excess water drip off and lay on a clean, dry cutting board.
Centre a strip of smoked salmon in the bottom third of the wrapper, leaving a 1-inch border on either side. Arrange 4 thick (or 6 thin) asparagus spear halves (overlapping as necessary) over the salmon. Top the asparagus with 2 avocado slices, 1 tablespoon shredded carrot and about 2 teaspoons each basil and mint. Fold the wrapper over the filling and roll into a tight cylinder, folding in the sides as you go.
Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. Cut each finished roll in half.
For the dipping sauce: Whisk soy sauce, orange juice, lemon juice, mirin and crushed red pepper in a small serving bowl. Serve the rolls with the sauce.
TIPS & NOTES
Make Ahead Tip: Individually wrap in parchment or wax paper and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
Notes: Rice-paper wrappers are translucent, round sheets made from rice flour. They need to briefly soak in warm water to make them soft and pliable before using. Find them in the Asian section of large supermarkets or at Asian food stores.
Mirin is a low-alcohol rice wine essential to Japanese cooking. Look for it in the supermarket with other Asian ingredients. An equal portion of dry sherry or white wine with a pinch of sugar may be substituted.
Low calorie | Low carbohydrate | Low saturated fat | Low cholesterol | Heart healthy | Healthy weight | Diabetes appropriate |
Per roll: 102 calories; 3 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 3 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 6 g protein; 2 g fiber; 370 mg sodium; 263 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (44% daily value), Folate (19% dv).
Salmon Salad Sandwich
Salmon salad served on tangy pumpernickel bread makes for an easy dinner—a double batch will give you lunch the next day.
Makes: 4 sandwiches
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
2 small cans boneless, skinless salmon, drained (could use Tuna instead)
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons reduced-fat cream cheese
8 slices pumpernickel bread, toasted
8 slices tomato
2 large leaves romaine lettuce, cut in half
Combine salmon, onion, lemon juice, oil and pepper in a medium bowl. Spread 1 tablespoon cream cheese on each of 4 slices of bread. Spread 1/2 cup salmon salad over the cream cheese. Top with 2 tomato slices, a piece of lettuce and another slice of bread.
Per serving: 286 calories; 9 g fat (3 g sat, 4 g mono); 34 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 22 g protein; 4 g fiber; 645 mg sodium; 262 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Folate (22% daily value), Iron & Vitamin C (17% dv), source of omega-3s
Diabetes appropriate | Low calorie | Low cholesterol | Low saturated fat | Healthy weight | Heart healthy
Peppery watercress or rocket give a spicy taste to these wraps but other greens, such as arugula, romaine, escarole or even radish sprouts, would taste great in the filling. If you want to give the rolls a sushi feel, stir some wasabi into the soy sauce for dipping and serve with pickled ginger. Another accompaniment can be sliced cucumbers and slivered red onions tossed with rice vinegar, a little oil and a pinch of salt.
Makes: 4 servings
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
2 5- to 6-ounce cans chunk light tuna, drained
1/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Sweet Chilli sauce (see Notes)
1 scallion (spring onion), chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice (see Tip), cooled
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 10-inch whole-grain wraps
3 cups rocket, watercress or other spicy green leaves
1 ripe avocado, cut into 16 slices
1 small carrot, cut into matchsticks
Reduced-sodium soy sauce for dipping (optional)
Combine tuna, mayonnaise, hot sauce and scallion in a medium bowl. Combine rice and vinegar in a small bowl.
Spread one-fourth of the tuna mixture over a wrap. Top with 1/2 cup rice, 3/4 cup watercress, 4 avocado slices and one-fourth of the carrot matchsticks. Roll up and cut the wrap in quarters or in half. Repeat with the remaining filling and wraps. Serve with soy sauce for dipping, if desired.
TIPS & NOTES
Sweet Chilli sauce originates in Thailand and can be found in the Asian section of many large supermarkets and at Asian markets.
Tip: To cook brown rice, bring 2 cups water and 1 cup brown rice to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer at the lowest bubble until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Makes about 2 cups. Or, to save time, prepare 2 cups instant brown rice according to package directions.
Eating them neatly!: These wraps (sometimes called burritos) can be messy to eat whole so if you don’t slice them into smaller portions, wrap in foil and peel back the foil as you go.
High fiber | Low saturated fat | Low cholesterol | Heart healthy |
Per serving: 515 calories; 17 g fat (4 g sat, 6 g mono); 17 mg cholesterol; 71 g carbohydrates; 2 g added sugars; 21 g protein; 9 g fiber; 869 mg sodium; 502 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (57% daily value), Vitamin C (28% dv), Magnesium (19% dv