I’ve hand-picked my favorite brain-healthy foods for the winter season. These are all items I keep in my kitchen and are getting regular use these days. The flavors and aromas they fill the house with are cozy and perfect for cooler temperatures. I hope you find these recommendations helpful. If you buy through my links I may earn a small commission.
Wild blueberries are higher in antioxidants than cultivated blueberries. All berries are great for brain health, but according to what’s been studied in research, stronger benefits come from blueberries. If you want an extra bit of antioxidants per spoonful, go for wild blueberries. Plus, they’re smaller and contain less water which means less seepage in baked goods. This time of year, they’d be great in crumbles, pies, muffins, pumpkin or banana breads, cookies, and really any other baked goods. Warm them up with a little cinnamon and juice until syrupy and use the mix to top oatmeal, yogurt, or other creamy things.
Cinnamon and blueberries are a flavor match made in heaven. Research suggests cinnamon slows down blood sugar absorption. Sprinkle cinnamon into baked goods, mulled ciders, or as part of a dry spice rub on chicken.
What’s better than whole grains? A blend of five whole-grains, organically grown. The variety of grains means a greater more complex mix of nutrients. I also love that this product comes from a small business. I use this at the base of grain bowls. Leftovers are added to soups and chilis, or tossed with veggies and sauce for a healthy sauteed “fried” rice.
Good things come in small packages. Anchovies are sustainable seafood and just a little packs so much flavor. Mash one or two into your next pasta sauce for a deep flavor boost and brain-healthy omega-3s.
cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
If you live closer to California than Europe, then olive oil grown and produced in California is a great choice. Good, fresh olive oil should have a slight peppery taste, which is an indication of its active polyphenols. (I learned this first-hand at an olive oil seminar in Spain, where they take their olive oil very seriously). Next time you open your olive oil, pour some into a tasting spoon and give it a taste.
cannellini white beans
Have you heard there may be a chickpea shortage? If chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, were your gateway into the wide world of beans (aka legumes, pulses), it’s time to expand your horizons and you’re in for a treat. There are so many amazing beans out there, and winter is an amazing time to get to know mild buttery white beans. Warm them through in a little olive oil and your favorite spices. They pair perfectly with stewed greens, and their mild flavor picks up on any spices you throw at them.
Keep in mind that a compound in black pepper (piperine) can increase the bioavailability of curcumin – the anti-inflammatory active ingredient in turmeric – by 2000%. One of my favorite wellness shots includes 2 tablespoons of pomegranate juice, 1 tablespoon of elderberry concentrate, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1/8 tsp turmeric, and a couple fresh cracks of black pepper; all mixed together with ice.