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Eat These Foods to Boost Your Brain Power

by in Cookbooks, Diets & Weight Loss, Food and Nutrition Experts, February 4, 2017

We’ve all had those days when our brains feel foggy: when we can’t focus and our memory is less-than sharp. And chances are, you’ve resorted to extra caffeine and a sugary snack in an effort to jolt your brain back into full function. But what if you could consume something that’s actually healthy for your brain instead?

That’s the idea behind numerous supplements, foods and drinks that contain nootropics, substances purported to improve cognition. Nootropic cocktails may contain any number of things including B vitamins, L-theanine, niacin, as well as various herbs and amino acids. But despite the growing popularity of these brain boosters, there is little scientific evidence to back up most of their claims. “I love the idea of boosting brain power, but show me any science that a supplement is better than movement, meditation and nutrient-dense brain food when it comes to mental health,” says Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, Columbia University and author of Eat Complete (Harper Collins, 2016).

According to Ramsey, boosting brain power is actually pretty simple. He even made a little rhyme about the key brain foods to make it easy to remember: “Seafood, greens, nuts and beans.” Eating more of those core foods can go a long way toward keeping your brain healthy—and a healthy brain works better. Important nutrients for feeding your brain include omega-3 fats, monounsaturated fats, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, iron, choline, lycopene, vitamin E and carotenoids. It’s not about a specific food or magic bullet supplement, but rather categories of healthy foods that provide high levels of these proven brain-boosting nutrients. “Our brains consume 20 percent of everything we eat,” says Ramsey. “This nourishment provides energy and nutrients to create and sustain the quadrillions of connections that construct the brain, plus the electricity that courses between those connections.” In other words: if you want a better brain, feed it better food. Read more

A Look Inside Healthy Grain Bowls

by in Cookbooks, January 20, 2017

Grain bowls are trending, and there’s an art to making these one-dish creations. I called on the expertise of Carolynn Carreño, author of Bowl of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole-Grain Meals on how to make bowls that are as beautiful and balanced as they are delicious.

  1. What inspired you to write an entire cookbook on one-dish whole grain meals?

Eating bowls filled with grains and topped with smaller amounts of deliciousness has been my way of keeping myself healthy and feeling good for years. I had some pretty serious, chronic issues with my health, and the way I got better was by restricting a lot of foods from my diet. But there was no way that was going to last forever. Eating and cooking in a non-restrictive, “gourmet” way is a major part of my life. I test recipes for cookbook collaborations. I travel to other countries, such as Italy and Mexico, and I want to experience the foods of those places. I go to food events and I go out to eat about every other night in New York City. Plus, I just love good food.

I didn’t want to deprive myself, so as I started to feel better, I kept myself introducing small portions of what I call “the good stuff”—flavorful proteins and dairy and condiments—onto piles of steamed brown rice (quinoa came later, and then farro and the rest) and Brussels sprouts or broccoli.  I’d put a tiny portion of shredded Mexican pork on a big bowl of brown rice with some black beans and broccoli for good measure. It was a middle ground between healthy and delicious that allowed me to have everything I wanted, without feeling like I got ran over by a truck the next day. When grain bowls went mainstream, I wanted to show the world that there can be so much more to a grain bowl than pink hummus and watermelon radishes. Read more

Exploring The MIND Diet

by in Cookbooks, October 29, 2016

Diets come and go, but the MIND Diet has the potential to cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in half and keep the brain more than seven years younger. The author of The MIND Diet, nutrition expert Maggie Moon, M.S., RDN, claims this approach to nutrition “is heart-healthy and a solid foundation for healthy eating for just about anyone.” So what exactly does the MIND Diet entail?

The Origin of MIND
The MIND Diet is a cross between the Mediterranean Diet and the DASH Diet. “MIND” stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The diet was developed by researchers at Rush University who created a nutrition plan shown to help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by more than one-third. In this prospective study, 923 people between the ages of 58 and 98 were followed for four-and-a-half years while following the Mediterranean Diet, the DASH Diet and the MIND Diet. Those who adhered to the MIND Diet the most reduced their risk for Alzheimer’s by 53 percent compared with those who did not adhere closely to the diet. Even those who partially adhered to the MIND Diet were still able to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 35 percent compared with those who did not follow the diet.

The Diet
The original diet was developed by Martha Clare Morris, Ph.D., a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University in Chicago, and her colleagues, who identified 10 “brain-healthy food groups” that were brimming with antioxidants, resveratrol and healthy fatty acids. These foods included berries, green leafy vegetables, olive oil, nuts, whole grains, fish and beans. According to the researchers, strawberries and blueberries were shown to be the most-potent berries in terms of protecting against Alzheimer’s and preserving cognitive function. Read more

Q&A with Chef Virginia Willis, Author of Lighten Up, Y’all

by in Cookbooks, October 16, 2016

Think Southern food can’t be lightened up? Think again! I had the opportunity to speak with Chef Virginia Willis about her James Beard Award-winning cookbook Lighten Up, Y’all. She was kind enough to share her tips for lightening up traditional Southern foods like biscuits, as well as her recipe for Vegetable Corn Bread.

Can traditional Southern foods be lightened up and still taste good?
Virginia Willis: Yes and yes! First, and foremost, I want to say that all traditional Southern foods aren’t unhealthy. We’re a vegetable-based cuisine and have a 12-month growing season. And, yes, I admit we’re most famous for fried chicken, cornbread and overcooked vegetables. My answer to that is: When you have fried chicken, have really good fried chicken, hold out for the good stuff  — and take a walk afterwards. There are tons of great vegetable recipes, and whole-grain cornbread isn’t unhealthy. I suggest backing off on the fat and amping up the nutrition.

What are three of your top tips for lightening up Southern fare?
VW: 1) I have a squirt bottle of canola oil at the side of my cooktop. I know that three squirts are 1 teaspoon, and that helps me be accountable. Bacon fat, butter or canola oil, all oil is around 120 calories a tablespoon. I try to use heart-healthy oil for general cooking and only use more-indulgent oils when their flavor really makes a difference.
2) It doesn’t matter if it’s Southern food or Italian food or Mexican food — the real key is portion control.
3) Eat your vegetables! Make vegetables the main place on the plate, and the starch and protein the secondary piece. Read more

Are You Vegan Curious?

by in Cookbooks, September 13, 2016

In her new book, The Book of Veganish (Pam Krauss Books/Avery, 2016), Kathy Freston shares her own journey from omnivore to vegan — including many stops along the way. “I’d always been an animal lover, and one day after seeing a pamphlet depicting animals being led to slaughter, I realized that I wanted to be someone who loved animals, not ate them,” she recalls. That was 12 years ago, but she didn’t go cold turkey on burgers, ice cream, cheese and eggs. Instead, she gradually started leaning toward a more plant-based diet. “I didn’t give up anything until I’d found an alternative I liked as much or more, so it never felt like I was depriving myself,” she says.

So what exactly does it mean to be “veganish?”
Kathy Freston: I’m all about the -ish. I get upset with the ‘vegan police’ who insist on purity and a strict regime. Too many people will reject that message because it’s just too hard. It’s OK to give yourself a little wiggle room as you investigate plant-based eating and move away from eating animals. But it should be a joyful process done in your own way at your own pace. ‘Veganish’ is about individual choice and not putting too much pressure on yourself to do it perfectly.

What do you suggest as a starting point for someone who wants to be veganish but doesn’t really know where to begin?
KF: When I started eating this way, I didn’t have the benefit of social media to help me out. Now, the best thing you can do is check out Instagram, type in #VeganFood or #VeganRecipes and you’ll get tons of amazing ideas. It’s really inspiring. And once you see all of the options, it doesn’t feel so daunting to eat this way. Read more

Healthy Coloring Books for Adults

by in Cookbooks, March 16, 2016

Part of living a healthy lifestyle is minimizing stress. One of the latest trends that help do so are coloring books for grownups. Even better, some of these coloring books double as cookbooks. Here’s a look into this latest trend and where you can pick them up.

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Ellie Krieger’s New Cookbook: You Have It Made

by in Cookbooks, January 13, 2016

The queen of healthy cooking, Ellie Krieger, is back; her new cookbook is filled with delicious, healthy make-ahead meals. I had the pleasure of talking with Ellie about her new cookbook (released Jan. 5, 2016) and even got a peek at one of her newest casserole recipes.

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Talking with Samantha Heller, Author of The Only Cleanse: A 14-Day Natural Detox Plan to Jump-Start a Lifetime of Health

by in Cookbooks, November 30, 2015

Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., CDN, is a nutrition expert who truly gets it! I was very excited to contribute some of my recipes to her new book and even more excited to sit down and ask her some questions about the concept behind The Only Cleanse.

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Kristin Cavallari’s Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

by in Cookbooks, November 14, 2015

The former reality TV show star has been busy. The mother of two boys (and a baby girl on the way) has a book coming out in March 2016, Balancing in Heels, that gives a peek into how she juggles it all. We spoke with her about the inspiration for her new book, her typical way of eating and a recipe for her Chicken Enchiladas Verdes.

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School-Year Cookbooks for Kids

by in Cookbooks, October 7, 2015

No Whine With Dinner

Now that you’ve got the schedule down and have stocked up on lunchbox goodies, it’s time to get down and dirty in the kitchen. Finding healthy, tasty, kid-friendly meals isn’t always as easy as it seems. Here are six healthy cookbooks geared toward children and family meals. Read more

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