Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to cook and do food styling for a special healthy food segment on the “Joy Behar: Say Anything!” TV Show featuring Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Dr. Barnard sits down with guest host Marilu Henner to discuss how saturated fat makes you sluggish and which colored foods are good for your brain and improve memory. Barnard says, “Greens, foliage — that contributes folate, which is a B vitamin which protects the brain.” He adds, “So when you see the greens, you know that’s good for the brain.” He also goes into discussing what foods to avoid such as heavy carb and fat-laden foods that make us tired and lack energy.
I was asked to cook and style four of Dr. Barnard’s recipes from his new book “Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory” to display during the TV interview food segment. The recipes were all colorful and healthy and made with Power Foods and all-natural ingredients: Summer Salad made with Rainbow Chard, tomatoes, corn, onions and garlic and pecans, Minted Fruit Kebabs made with a Citrus Lime and Mint light dressing, Marinated Grilled Veggie Kabobs marinated in a balsamic and herb dressing, and Super Raspberry Protein Brownies made with black beans, raspberry jam, cocoa powder and figs.
Could that glass of milk affect your memory? Is that aluminum can increasing your risk for Alzheimer’s disease? Can a banana be a brain booster? Everyone knows that good nutrition supports your overall health, but did you know that certain foods can protect your brain and optimize its function?
In POWER FOODS FOR THE BRAIN, Dr. Neal Barnard has gathered the most important research and studies to deliver a program that can boost brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and other less serious malfunctions, including low energy, poor sleep patterns, irritability, and lack of focus. The plan includes information on:
- The best foods to increase cognitive function and boost folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12
- The dangers dairy products and meats may have on memory
- The role alcohol plays in Alzheimer’s risk
- The latest research on certain toxic metals, like aluminums found in cookware, soda cans, and common antacids
- Plus, 50-75 recipes and timesaving kitchen tips.
Here are the recipes I made and styled for the show. Enjoy!
Summer Salad – The more naturally colorful your meal is, the more likely it is to have an abundance of immune-boosting antioxidants and phytochemicals. The same foods that are good for your heart are good for your brain.
Chard’s slight bitterness is beautifully balanced by the sweetness of the corn and grapes, resulting in a surprising depth of flavor.
- ½ small white onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- Leaves from 1 bunch chard
- 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels
- ¼ cup pecan halves
- 1 cup seedless black grapes
- Pinch of sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Mince the onion and garlic, then smash them together a couple times with the back of a knife or with a mortar and pestle.
- Wash the Swiss chard thoroughly, as it tends to be gritty, then slice it into ribbons by tightly bunching the leaves together and slicing them with a sharp, heavy knife. Place the chard in a salad bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and toss.
Marinated Grilled Veggie Kebabs – these are super easy to make and super colorful, and healthy. Marinated in a dressing made with balsamic vinegar, orange juice, honey, mustard and maple syrup with Italian season before grilling, they are super tasty too.
Serve these savory kebabs over a brown rice pilaf for a satisfying and easy meal.
- 16 cherry tomatoes
- 2 red onions, each cut into 8 bite-size chunks
- 2 green or red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into 8 pieces each
- 16 button mushrooms
- 1 small yellow summer squash, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 small zucchini, cut into 8 pieces
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 metal skewers, or bamboo skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes
- Place the cherry tomatoes, red onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, squash, and zucchini in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and whisk well. Pour the marinade over the vegetables and stir to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes.
- Heat a charcoal or gas grill or your oven’s broiler. Onto one skewer, thread the ingredients in the following manner: 1 tomato, 1 red onion chunk, 1 pepper piece, 1 mushroom, 1 yellow summer squash slice, 1 tomato, 1 zucchini slice, 1 red onion chunk, 1 pepper, and 1 mushroom. Repeat with remaining ingredients and skewers. Place the kebabs on the hot grill or a broiler pan and brush with the marinade. Grill for 7 minutes, or until desired tenderness, turning the kebabs a few times. Serve immediately.
Minted Fruit Kebabs – Power up with blueberries and grapes. These “brain berries” get their deep colors from anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants shown to improve learning and recall in studies at the University of Cincinnati.
Fresh fruit makes a striking appearance in these antioxidant-rich kebabs. Enjoy them for a refreshing, light dessert!
- 8 red or green grapes
- 4 large strawberries
- 4 1-inch-square cantaloupe chunks
- 4 1-inch-square honeydew chunks
- 4 1/2-inch-thick slices peeled kiwi
- 4 1-inch-square watermelon chunks
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 10-inch bamboo skewers
- Thread 1 grape, 1 strawberry, 1 cantaloupe chunk, 1 honeydew chunk, 1 slice kiwi, 1 watermelon chunk, and 1 more grape onto a skewer. Repeat with the remaining fruit and skewers. Place the finished skewers in a shallow container.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, mint, and vanilla. Pour the marinade over the fruit kebabs, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours) in the refrigerator before serving.
Recipe by Christine Waltermyer
Super Raspberry Protein Brownies – A brownie made with black beans? You bet! Beans are high in fiber, calcium, and protein, making them a nutrition powerhouse. Beans are free from saturated and trans fats. Researchers find people consuming the most saturated fat in their diets have more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
A brownie made with black beans? You bet! Beans are high in fiber, calcium, and protein, making them a nutrition powerhouse.
Beans are free from saturated and trans fats. Researchers find people consuming the most saturated fat in their diets have more than triple the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- 1/4 teaspoon safflower oil
- 2 15-ounce cans low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1 cup all-fruit raspberry jam
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with the oil.
- Combine the black beans, dates, jam, and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and process again.
- Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top looks set. Remove from the oven and cool completely, then cut into 16 squares. The brownies will keep, refrigerated in a covered container, for up to 1 week.
For those of you who may have missed the show, here’s a video of the food segment that aired on TV last week: