You’ve survived the holiday season, now it’s time to thrive with wellness into 2018. Here are three ways to get going on the right path. The good news is that even adopting one of these ideas this week will do the body and mind good. So ease into a new habit, and if week one goes well, try another week. If that goes well, try adding another of these tips to your routine.
Broccoli, kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, and more. Take your pick. Put it in a salad or a smoothie, cook them up in a soup or a saute lightly in olive oil. Adults who ate at least one serving of leafy green vegetables a day kept the brain humming 11 years younger, according to a new study from Tufts University.
Take a brisk 40 minute walk.
The 2013 International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain’s dietary and lifestyle guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease recommend taking this brisk walk every other day. Aerobic exercise helps reduce inflammation and improves blood flow to the brain. It even protects brain cells. There are also heart health and overall weight management reasons to go for that walk. Maybe take it as an opportunity to catch up with a friend or a favorite podcast episode.
Eat more plant protein.
When it comes to protein, it is essential to get enough throughout each day. It can come from many sources, including plant and animal foods. It’s the mix of proteins you eat throughout the day that matter, not what you eat at one sitting. Aim to get some of your protein from plants. Nuts and beans will be your best bet. Almonds and pistachios are the two snack nuts that are highest in protein and fiber, or take your pick from a variety of beans such as black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans, split peas, and more. Super healthy whole grains and pseudo-grains like quinoa, sorghum, farro, and barley, also offer up a little plant protein.
Which of these three simple choices will you commit to making today? Let me know in the comments!
Sometimes experimentation pays off. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s good to go into the kitchen with an open mind; a loose framework helps. That’s what I did today, with delicious results. After spending some time brainstorming in pajamas (it is Saturday, after all), I hit up two stores for supplies, and came back to get cooking. It’s a good thing Fred doesn’t mind waiting for breakfast. We had coffee before any of this, obvs. There are limits.
I took advantage of some beautiful seasonal pomegranate, but the rest of the ingredients can be found year-round, including a few “shortcut” ingredients like bottled sesame sauce and pre-mixed garam masala. After pomegranate season closes in January, I’d swap in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or even table or concord grapes.garam masala hummus is the bomb dot com. we've got your easy #recipe right here. via @minddietmeals @maggiemoonRD Click To Tweet Pomegranate arils are a star in every dish they grace. #pomegranate #babykale #salad #recipe via @minddietmeals @maggiemoonRD Click To Tweet
I used large AA organic cage-free eggs, but I’m not in an at-risk group. To get rid of any food safety concerns about undercooked eggs, you can use a pasteurized whole egg. As far as I know, eggs by Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs is the only option on the market right now.
- 15.5 oz can chickpeas beans, aka garbanzo beans (I used Sprouts Market Organic Low Sodium Garbanzo Beans), drained, liquid reserved
- 2 cloves garlic
- ⅓ cup sesame sauce
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
- 1 T garam masala
- 1 large lemon, zest and juice
- 5 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves separated and roughly chopped (may reserve a few whole leaves for garnish)
- Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
- 2-3 cups baby kale, loosely packed
- ¾ cup parsley leaves, loosely packed (5-7 springs)
- 1 small pomegranate, arils removed to produce at least ½ cup (you may have extra)
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 T white balsamic vinegar
- 1 T garam masala hummus (from hummus made with recipe above)
- Salt to taste (optional)
- 4 eggs
- 2 whole grain English muffins
- Combine all ingredients except chickpea liquid and parsley in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
- Taste before seasoning with any salt or pepper. Season to taste. Flavors may melt together and develop more after resting.
- Cover and let rest in refrigerator.
- This recipe makes about 1.5 cups of hummus, so you're going to have extra, which is awesome. It's great on sandwiches, as a veggie dip, and on top of fish. Freeze anything you can't use up within a few days.
- While the hummus is resting, wash and dry all produce.
- Preheat the oven to 300F.
- Combine dry baby kale and parsley in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, and hummus, whisk until smooth, and set aside.
- Bring medium pot of salted water to roaring boil over high heat.
- While water is heating, trim the top and bottom off the pomegranate, score the sides every 2-3 inches, then submerge the fruit in a large bowl of water, pry the fruit open using the scored marks.
- When water is at a roaring boil, carefully add eggs and boil for 4 minutes exactly. Remove eggs and let cool slightly at room temperature.
- While eggs are cooling, separate the English muffins and toast in oven, face up, for 3-5 minutes or to desired doneness (check periodically to avoid burning), remove from oven and set aside.
- Carefully peel eggs (if they break, it'll be messy) once they are cool enough to work with.
- Whisk reserved chickpea liquid (aquafaba) until it forms a foam, less than a minute.
- Dress the salad; dressing may need a refresher whisking if it has separated.
- Divide English muffins on two plates. Spread with hummus. Add a small handful of the salad on top of the hummus. Top with eggs.
- Dollop the chickpea foam on top. Garnish with paprika and parsley.
- Add more salad to the plate as a side dish.
- Dig in, it's going to taste great.
There are 75 recipes in The MIND Diet book to get you started, but when you’re ready to make your own meals, rest assured that the guidelines for creating healthy MIND diet meals are simple. The beauty of the MIND diet is its simplicity. The complicated part is done (the research). Based on natural whole foods, the MIND diet includes plenty of plant foods, complemented by a healthy helping of seafood and poultry. And don’t forget the wine!
How do you know if your meal is worthy to be tagged #minddietmeals? Simple, it will contain any of the 10 basic brain-healthy food groups, and none of the five brain-harming ones. With these basic guidelines, you’ll be creating your own MIND diet meals in no time.
The MIND diet’s brain-healthy food groups (and how often to eat them):
- Whole grains – 3x per day (i.e. daily)
- Vegetables – 1x per day (i.e. daily)
- Leafy green vegetables – 6x per week
- Nuts – 5x per week (e.g. a daily snack during the workweek)
- Beans – 3-4x per week (i.e. about every other day)
- Berries – 2x per week (e.g. fresh berries over 2 to 3 days, or frozen berries anytime)
- Poultry – 2x per week
- Fish – 1x per week
- Olive oil – use daily (I like CA Olive Ranch because it has a seal of authenticity from California Olive Oil Commission)
- Wine – 1x per day (i.e. one 5 oz glass daily)
The MIND diet’s brain-harming food groups (You’ll see there’s room for moderation, but reducing these foods as much as possible has many benefits for overall health):
- Butter/solid fats – less than a tablespoon per day
- Pastries/sweets – less than 5x per week
- Red meat – less than 4x per week
- Fried/fast foods – less than 1x per week (e.g. one or two times a month)
- Cheese – less than 1x per week (e.g. one or two times a month)
What are some simple meal ideas you can think of that include some of the 10 brain-healthy food groups?
This superfood smoothie features the berries most researched for brain health: blueberries and strawberries. A protein bonus comes from the almond butter and soft tofu, a mild-tasting and very blendable kind of tofu that incorporates seamlessly into soups and smoothies, where it adds a high-protein, vegetarian and dairy-free creaminess.
MIND foods: Nuts, beans, berries
Prep time: 5 minutes
Skill level: Easy
1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup soft tofu, drained
1 T almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened almond-coconut milk
1 medium ice cube, optional
Combine all ingredients into a blender. Pulse until fully combined. Additional ice cubes may be added for a colder temperature or thinner consistency, according to preference.
Nutrition: 180 calories, 8 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 6 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber