Getting lectured about how you should eat right and eat healthy and eat the right kind of food while studying is all nice and good…. but you may not always have the time to invest that much thought into your study food of choice. Brainscape to the rescue. With all these food articles we’ve been putting out there, we thought it was beyond time that we actually handed you some practical advice to make learner that much easier. So after some consideration, research and experimenting we present to you the first part of a four part series: Food for Thought, the Recipes. Sounds good, right? The criteria are simple:
- Each recipe should have no more than six major ingredients (basics don’t count) and these should not be too exotic.
- Preparation time will be no more than 30 minutes. Cooking times may be a bit longer so you can get back to studying for a while.
- Every dish will have at least one ingredient that is good for you and your working brain
To make the choice even easier for you, there will be exactly four types of recipes in every post: One soup, one salad, one sandwich and one entrée. As a bonus, there will be a snack recommendation.
That’s it for now; without further ado here is Part 1 of our little cooking corner.
Spicy Tomatoes and Red Kidney Bean Soup
2 cups chopped tomatoes
½ cup drained red kidney beans
½ medium chopped onion
Olive oil, red chili powder
Chopped fresh or dried basil, oregano, sugar, salt, pepper
Heat oil and sauté onions briefly. Add tomatoes and chili powder and cook til mushy (5-10 minutes depending on ripeness). Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water (soup will be thicker with less water), boil, allow to simmer for a few minutes. Blend the tomatoes, then add beans and spices and cook for 5-10 minutes.
Brain food: Kidney beans. Rich in Omega 3, which is essential for a functional brain.
Small bulb of fennel
1 TS honey
1 TS oil
1/2 cup of walnuts
Filet oranges, collect juice. Mix with salt, pepper, honey and oil. Cut the fennel in half, then into thin slices. Keep or discard greens according to preference. Add fennel and orange slices to vinaigrette. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. Chop walnuts and sprinkle over salad before serving.
Brain food: Oranges. Rich in Vitamin C (antioxidant, immune system), Fiber (helps you feel full), Beta Carotene (antioxidant), Potassium (maintain fluid balance). Walnuts. Rich in Vitamin B and Omega 3 – the ultimate brain nutrients.
Chicken parmesan sub
1 piece of boneless chicken breast
3 1/2 – 4 oz. of fresh spinach
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
1 whole wheat roll
Olive oil, salt, pepper, dried basil/oregano/thyme
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet, add spinach and cook until wilted for 2-3 minutes (stir often). Transfer to a bowl. Heat more oil and grill the chicken breast until lightly browned from both sides, approx. 1 minute each. Add tomatoes to skillet, season with spices and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes (turn chicken at least once). Top chicken with spinach leaves, tomato sauce, cover with a few slices of mozzarella and broil until cheese is melted. Serve on a roll.
Brain food: Spinach. Rich in Iron and Folic Acid, it’s been scientifically proven to slow cognitive decline. Chicken. Rich in Protein, Vitamin B3.
Grilled salmon, steamed broccoli and grains
1 piece of salmon
1 small head of broccoli
Bulgur/quinoa/brown rice/wild rice/couscous
Grains make for a good side to this dish and there is a wide variety to choose from. Some choices are listed in the ingredients. Because of their cooking time they should be the first step towards preparing your meal. You should read cooking instructions carefully: While some only take 15 minutes or less (couscous), brown or wild rice may need to cook for up to 45 minutes.
Season salmon (you can choose any spice you like: keep it basic with salt and pepper, try a more elaborate soy sauce/brown sugar/lemon/garlic marinade, experiment with rosemary, salad herbs, etc.) and refrigerate. Cut broccoli into small florets. Steaming may seem more complicated than cooking but preserves more nutrients. If you don’t have a steamer, simply find a pot and a sieve that fits in it, bring a few ounces of water to a boil, then add sieve with broccoli and cover. Steam for 5-10 minutes, depending on size of florets/preferred crunchiness. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet, lightly powder salmon with flour (to prevent from sticking to pan) and grill for 3-5 minutes from both sides.
Brain food: Salmon/fish. Rich in Protein, Omega 3, Vitamin D, Vitamin B. Broccoli. Rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K (helps keep Vitamin D metabolism in balance). Grains. Depending on type contain Manganese (mineral that serves as co-factor for antioxidant enzyme), Magnesium, Fiber.
If you are into brain foods at all you already know about the awesomeness of blueberries, but this fruit is just too good a snack not to mention: rich in Vitamin K, Manganese, Vitamin C and a wide range of Phytonutrients. Studies have shown enormous cognitive benefits from regular consumption of blueberries. The berries go well as a side snack for sandwiches, in yogurt (contains an amino acid responsible for producing dopamine → aids memory function, increases alertness), cereal (another great brain food), etc. Fruits in general make for a great snack; high on the list are oranges, apples, bananas, (cantaloupe) melon, dried mango or apricot.