The same old superfoods aren’t enough to keep your brain firing on all cylinders.
To really stay sharp, you need to consume a diet that also feeds other key support systems of your brain—your gut and microbiome, the community of bacteria that populate your digestive tract.
For a day’s worth of brain-boosting meals, try the recipes below—excerpted from The Whole Brain by Raphael Kellman, MD…
SAMPLE BREAKFAST: Quinoa with Pear, Blueberries and Almonds
This energizing hot breakfast contains plenty of fiber to nourish your microbiome, as well as healthy fats to heal your gut wall and feed your brain. Cinnamon balances your blood sugar and reduces inflammation. Makes one serving.
1 teaspoon clarified pasture-raised butter or ghee
½ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
½ cinnamon stick
⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
¼ cup coconut milk
½ cup ripe pear, cored and diced into large pieces
1 teaspoon chopped raw almonds
½ cup blueberries
Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Place the butter, quinoa, water, coconut oil, cinnamon stick, nutmeg and ginger in a small saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the coconut milk and pear, and simmer for five minutes.
- Add salt to taste, and sprinkle with the almonds, blueberries and ground cinnamon.
SAMPLE SNACK: Caribbean-Spiced Garbanzos
A zesty, addictive snack! Leftover spices can be used for other snacks or as a rub for fish, meat and poultry. The garbanzos are a terrific high-fiber source of protein that your microbiome will love, and turmeric and cinnamon help reduce inflammation, which your brain loves, too. Makes three servings.
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 (16-ounce) cans organic garbanzos, drained and rinsed
1½ Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Combine all the spices in a small bowl.
- Combine the garbanzos with the oil in a medium-sized bowl. Add two teaspoons of the spice mixture and the coarse salt. The leftover spices will keep well for another batch or as a rub for fish, meat or poultry.
- Spread the garbanzos on an ungreased baking sheet or shallow roasting pan. Bake until golden and crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in an airtight container. If the garbanzos get soggy, rebake until crisp.
SAMPLE LUNCH: Frittata of Swiss Chard, Mushrooms, Asparagus and Onion
This Italian egg dish makes a delicious hot lunch or an invigorating breakfast. Although most frittatas include some form of dairy, coconut milk is substituted here for cow’s milk, as well as a little sheep’s-milk cheese (Pecorino Romano), which is easier for most people to digest than cow’s-milk products. Your brain will love the healthy fat! Makes two servings. Serve with a leafy green salad.
6 large organic eggs, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons coconut milk
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup roughly chopped onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
8 thin asparagus stalks, cut into one-inch pieces
½ pound Swiss chard, washed and torn into one-inch-wide pieces
- Preheat the oven to 475°F.
- Beat the eggs with the coconut milk in a bowl, and add the herbs, two tablespoons of the cheese and the salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in an eight-inch heavy-bottomed, ovenproof skillet over medium heat, and sauté the onion until just translucent, about five minutes. Add the mushrooms and asparagus, and sauté until tender. Add the Swiss chard, and cook until wilted.
- Spread the vegetables evenly in the skillet, and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat, and when the skillet is very hot, pour in the eggs and cook until they begin to set.
- Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and place the skillet in the oven.
- Bake for five minutes, or until the frittata is firm but not browned.
SAMPLE DINNER: Seared Fish Fillet with Parsley Caper Sauce
For this dish, use a low-mercury fish, such as haddock, cod, tilapia or salmon. Although the recipe calls for seven ounces, you can increase the fish to 12 ounces and use the extra in a salad for another meal. The sauce is delicious with any seared or grilled fish and vegetables. The fish has thyroid-friendly iodine, brain-friendly fats and a delicious tangy taste from the parsley caper sauce. Serve with Swiss chard and green beans. Makes one serving.
Ingredients for the parsley caper sauce:
2 teaspoons white vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¾ cup fresh parsley leaves
1 heaping Tablespoon fresh basil leaves
2 Tablespoons small capers
¼ cup garlic-infused olive oil
¼ cup olive oil
2 canned anchovy fillets (optional)
Ingredients for the seared fish:
7 ounces fresh fish fillet, about one-inch thick
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Wilted Swiss chard (optional side dish)
Sautéed green beans (optional side dish)
- To prepare the parsley caper sauce, combine the vinegar and mustard in a food processor.
- Add the herbs and capers, and process until they are roughly chopped.
- Slowly add the garlic-infused olive oil, olive oil and anchovy fillets, if using. Process until the sauce is very smooth.
- To prepare the fish, sprinkle the salt and pepper on both sides of the fish.
- Heat the olive oil in an eight-inch nonstick or cast-iron pan over high heat.
- If the fillet has skin, place it, skin-side down, in the skillet, and press down for about 30 seconds as it begins to cook, to prevent it from curling. Sear the fish over high heat, flip the fillet, add the butter, and cook until the fish has cooked through, one to three minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
- Serve with the parsley caper sauce and, if desired, wilted Swiss chard and sautéed green beans.
- Refrigerate leftover sauce for future use.
All recipes excerpted from The Whole Brain: The Microbiome Solution to Heal Depression, Anxiety, and Mental Fog without Prescription Drugs by Raphael Kellman, MD. Copyright © 2017. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.