Back to School: The Recipe For a Healthy Brain

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Year after year, leaving the summer months behind and welcoming another school year can be a difficult and stressful adjustment. After relaxing and enjoying the sun-filled months, it can be a struggle to retrain your brain to focus, study and learn everyday.  Luckily, there is one easy step that we can take to improve clarity and functionality.

Science shows us that eating a balanced and healthy diet doesn’t only ward off disease and build a strong immune system, but it also helps to improve brain function. Nutrition is a useful and fundamental tool in improving focus, memory and overall cognitive function.

In particular, foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids like fatty fish, nuts and seeds improve mental skills like thinking, remembering and learning.  Research also suggests that Omega-3’s also protect against Alzheimer’s, dementia and gradual memory loss.  Fatty acids cannot be produced by the body, and therefore must be consumed through a balanced diet. Also vital to enhancing memory and thinking skills is Zinc and Vitamin E, which can be found in pumpkin seeds and spinach.

Adding these super-foods to your daily diet is an easy and effective way to improve cognitive function and make going back to school a bit easier.  Follow the recipes below for some easy, flavorful and most importantly, nutrient-rich school night dinner ideas.

Salmon:
1 Piece of Salmon
1 Cup of Walnuts, Chopped
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ Cup Panko
1 Tbsp Stone Ground Mustard
1 Tbsp Honey
½ Tsp Dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper

Rice:
½ Cup Pumpkin Seeds
1 Cup Brown Rice
2 Cups Salted Water
1 Tsp Olive Oil
½ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ Tsp Onion Powder
½ Tsp Garlic Powder

Salad:
1 Package of Spinach washed and dried
½ Cup of blueberries
1 Avocado, sliced
2 Tbsp’s Olive Oil
1.5 Tbsp’s Balsamic Vinegar
   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

For Salmon:

Step 1: Combine walnuts, panko, 1 Tbsp olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix. Combine honey and mustard in separate bowl.

Step 2: Place salmon in a greased baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush with honey mustard mixture, and spread the walnut-panko mixture evenly across the piece of salmon, patting gently to ensure the mixture sticks.

Step 3: Place in the oven and cook for 35-45 minutes.

For Rice:

Step 1: Cook rice according to package instructions and keep warm on the stove.

Step 2: In a bowl, combine pumpkin seeds, olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Transfer to a frying pan over medium heat and toast seeds for 3-5 minutes.

Step 3: Combine rice and pumpkin seeds and serve.

For Salad

Step 1: Combine lettuce, blueberries and avocado and toss with balsamic and oil.
            * Studies have shown that blueberries significantly improve learning capacity and motor skills. Blueberries also help to protect the brain from age-related issues such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
            * Avocados are packed with Vitamin E, a valuable antioxidant that is proven to improve cognitive function.