In Chinese Medicine, late summer relates to the earth element and serves as a turning point from the hot, active summer season to the cooler, calming energy of fall. By taking care of our digestion and immunity now, we will stay healthier during the colder months.
This time of year is ideal to improve our focus and concentration by increasing circulation to the brain. One of our most important organs, the brain regulates most of the functions in our body, from immunity to digestion support brain health and improve cognitive function by including these foods in your daily diet.
Avocados: high in vitamin K and folate, avocados help support healthy circulation in the brain (protecting against stroke) and improve memory and concentration.
Beets: natural nitrates in beets help improve blood flow to the brain, supporting optimum mental performance.
Blueberries: they are one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods we can eat, thus supporting brain health and concentration. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries protect the brain from degeneration and stress.
Broccoli: high in both vitamin K and choline, broccoli improves memory and lengthens focus time.
Olive oil: its powerful antioxidants, polyphenols, improve learning and memory and support healthy aging and protect your body from disease-related health challenges. Be sure to use extra virgin olive oil that has the harvest date and acidity labeled on the bottle.
Rosemary: carnosic acid, one of the main ingredients in rosemary, helps protect the brain from neurodegeneration. It also contains rosmarinic acid, which increases circulation to the brain, thereby supporting better concentration.
Walnuts: rich in protein and fiber, these nuts also contain ellagic acid, which improves concentration and stimulates brain circulation. Try these recipes to incorporate brain foods into your meals.
Beet and Sweet Potato HashYou will need:
- 1 large sweet potato, grated
- 1 large beet, grated
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the sweet potatoes and beets with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Place on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and rosemary.
- Toss well with a spatula and continue roasting for 10 more minutes.
Pasta with Spinach, Walnuts and AvocadoYou will need:
- 12 ounces quinoa pasta
- 2 packed cups of fresh spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup peas (defrosted if frozen)
- 1 whole ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- Bring a large pot of salted water (3 quarts water, a tablespoon of salt) to a rolling boil.
- Add the dry pasta to the boiling water.
- Cook in rapidly boiling water until al dente, cooked through, but still a bit firm to the bite.
- Place the spinach at the bottom of a large bowl.
- When the pasta is done, scoop out about a half cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside.
- Drain the pasta and put the hot drained pasta on top of the chopped spinach in the bowl.
- Toss to mix. The heat of the pasta will help wilt the spinach leaves.
- Stir in the lemon juice and black pepper.
- Stir in the peas and walnuts.
- Gently fold in the chopped avocado.
- Taste and add more salt, lemon, or pepper if needed. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
Blueberry CobblerYou will need:
- 3 cups blueberries
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup quick oats
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and cardamom
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk (almond, cow, or rice)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease an 8x8 glass dish with coconut oil.
- Pour the blueberries into the baking dish.
- Whisk together the almond flour, oats, walnuts, salt and spices in a bowl.
- Add the maple, milk and vanilla. Mix well.
- Add the coconut oil in small spoonfuls and mix well so that the batter is crumbly and coats the coconut oil.
- Pour batter onto berries, spreading it to the edges.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
Writer Lisa Mase is a culinary medicine coach, food writer, translator, and folk herbalist living in Vermont. For articles and recipes, visit Lisa at www.harmonizedcookery.com.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.