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I wish I could just bottle up the power of plant-based recipes to improve my memory, and then open it when I need it the most! Seriously, though.While my blog post isn’t centered on the topic of pregnancy, that time of my life really highlighted the importance of brain health. Here’s why. When I was about 27 weeks pregnant, the frequently joked about “pregnancy brain fog” hit me. I denied it for weeks! It was my first pregnancy so I honestly thought pregnancy fog was a dumb concept…. until that 27th week of pregnancy crept upon me.
While I was consistently snacking and hydrating throughout the day, daily (and I mean multiple times per day) I was still forgetting why I went into another room. I would also lose my train of thought mid-sentence, or forget basic things like, “oh, what’s our home address?” (:0).
I pretty much felt brain fog 24/7. When I think back much earlier before pregnancy (15 years), I could have been A LOT more thoughtful about what I was eating, and how it fueled my day-to-day brain function. Yes, you read correctly. What you eat TODAY impacts how your brain processes information RIGHT NOW.
It’s safe to say with the numerous, fast-paced, daily activities we do, it’s easy to overlook the “short-term brain profitability” we can get from foods.
Okay, don’t get scared off by the fancy term. “Short-term brain profitability” means your brain can stay focused on short-term tasks and process information more quickly. That way you can memorize a longer grocery list right before you shop, remember someone’s name you just learned at a party, or memorize a couple of steps in a recipe. It’s super important stuff!
You can mix and match the recipes into any time of the week or month. None of them require pricey meats, so that means no animal-based fats (and your brain will thrive on plant-based fats SO much better) and you’ll be multi-tasking in ways you didn’t expect!
More than likely, you’ve heard of the term Omega 3, but do you REALLY know what it is? ……most of the time the general public doesn’t have a clue. You’ve probably seen the supplement bottles lined up on the shelf in the pharmacy aisle, watched the commercials, and maybe you even give a little pill of it to your dog, who knows (FYI, it makes their coats shiny and extra soft). So I’m going to give you a head start on those Fatty Acids…. Before I lay out a few FACTS, whip up a batch of my Omega-3 Rich Edamame Hummus (below), and dip in some crunchy pita chips and carrots.
¾ tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Unfiltered
½ tsp White Wine Vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp Fresh Dill, chopped
¼ Cup Dairy-Free Yogurt, Unsweetened (Suggested: Kite Hill Artisan Almond Milk Yogurt, Plain)
Pinch of Salt and Ground Pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp Hummus (Suggested Lemony White Bean Hummus, See Recipe)
½ Cup Sprouts, rinsed
½ Small Bell Pepper, rinsed, sliced thinly
1 Small Carrot, rinsed, peeled, Peeled in thin strips
8 Slices Cucumber, rinsed, Sliced Thinly
2 Leaves Red Lettuce, rinsed
¼ Cup Sliced Avocado
4 Slices of Whole Wheat Bread (Less than 1oz per slice)
Serving Size: 1 Sandwich
Nutrition: Cal 240, Fat 12g, Sat Fat 1g, Sod 300mg, Carb 29g, Fib 7g, Sug 6g, Added Sugars 0g, Pro 9g
What I love about this hummus is, of course, the flavor, but the recipe is so simple 5 ingredients. I throw all of the ingredients into a mini food processor. My favorite one is here and super inexpensive. The edamame (green colored soybeans) are the star of the show. Edamame (made up of soy) comes richly filled with 1 of the 3 types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids: ALA. ALA is a short way of saying Alpha-lipoic Acid. This Acid can travel into the brain easily and protect all kinds of brain tissue and is especially helpful for short term memory. Better yet, the brain is the most fat-rich organ in the body. 60% of your brain is fat! Whoah is right. About 8% OF THAT FATTY WEIGHT is composed of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Did you see what I did there? Think about it, if one of our organs is made up of something specific (like Omega-3 Fatty Acids) it must be an important ingredient for our body.
And don’t skip our Sweet & Spicy Walnuts recipe (below) for another Omega-3 crowd-pleaser J I double or triple the recipe for a party and set a big bowl of it in the middle of the table. By the end of the party, everyone asks me for the recipe.
4 Cups Whole Rolled Oats (not quick or instant)
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Dried Coconut Flakes
¼ Cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/3 cup Sliced Almonds
1/3 Cup Chopped Walnuts
3 Tbsp Sunflower Seeds, Raw
1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
1 Tbsp White Sesame Seeds
6 Tbsp Honey
3 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Coarse Sea Salt
Serving Size: about ½ Cup Granola with 1 Cup Soy Milk
Nutrition: Cal 260, Fat 16g, Sat Fat 7g, Sod 90mg, Carb 20g, Fib 4g, Sug 9g, Added Sugars 7g, Pro 9g
It only requires a small handful of walnuts to reap the ALA benefits. They’re more densely packed with Omega 3’s ALA than even Edamame. In fact, Walnuts are the only nut that is powerfully filled with ALA.
Omega 3 gets a bit more of the spotlight on one of my other favorites, a crispy, ‘meaty’ finger food, and sweet sauce, Crispy Tofu Nuggets with Honey Mustard (below).
Crispy Tofu Nuggets (See Below for Recipe)
Honey Mustard Dip (See Below for Recipe)
Crispy Tofu Nuggets Ingredients:
1-15 ounce pkg Extra-Firm Tofu, Drained, Torn into bite pieces, dried
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Unfiltered
2 Garlic Cloves, Smashed, Minced
½ tsp Onion Powder, divided
¼ tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
¼ tsp Chili Powder
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
¼ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Coarse Sea Salt
Honey Mustard Dip/Dressing Ingredients:
2 ½ Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
A Pinch of Coarse Sea Salt
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Unfiltered
Serving Size: About 4 oz Nuggets + 2 Tbsp Dip
Nutrition: Cal 380, Fat 21g, Sat Fat 3g, Sod 590mg, Carb 34g, Fib 7g, Sug 10g, Added Sugars 9g, Pro 17g
I like making several batches of the Crispy Tofu Nuggets, bake, cool, freeze them separately on the cookie sheet, and then store them in a freezer bag. All you have to do it pop them back onto a cookie sheet and crisp at 375F.
Something else to point out is how all 4 of my recipes suggest Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Choose the Unfiltered “cloudy” looking Olive Oils for their rich Omega 3 content. Skip the filtered Olive Oils, you’ll get way more antioxidants, and it tastes just as delicious.
The Crispy Tofu Nuggets and Edamame Hummus recipes are also packed with Soy, which has extraordinary benefits of reducing brain inflammation, as well as improving short and long-term memory. Despite what you may have read about soy dangers, it is considered safe and healthy! Soy is correlated longer life. The populations of people in the world who live to age 100 or longer ate Soy regularly.
Some things we just can’t store long term. B Vitamins are one of those, so we need all 8 Vitamins constantly. The best part is that all 4 recipes shared in this post provide maximum Vitamin B benefits.
The creamy Edamame Hummus comes with a bounty of different B Vitamins, all of which do awesome things for the brain. It means that your brain can work at its full potential! You’ll learn the information better, think more clearly, and have a lot less neuron damage.
And since the more variety of foods you eat, the better quality and balance of nutrients you’ll receive, this is particularly why I included my Seedelicious Salad. There are 3 different types of nuts and seeds in the recipe: almonds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds.
3 1/2 Cups Kale, Washed, Stems Removed, Chopped
7 large Red Leaf Lettuce leaves, Washed
Optional: 1/2 Cup Cilantro, Fresh, Washed, Chopped
Optional: 1/2 Cup Mint, Fresh, Washed, Chopped
2 1/2 Cups Red Cabbage, Washed, Chopped
3 Rainbow Carrots, Medium Sized, Washed, Peeled, Chopped into ½” pieces
1 Cup Red Bell Pepper, Washed, Sliced
1 Large Avocado, Sliced into Quarters
1 Cup Red Quinoa, Cooked per package instructions, cooled, refrigerated
3 1/2 Tbsp Raw Almonds, Unsalted, Toasted & Coarsely Chopped
3 1/2 Tbsp Raw Sesame Seeds, Unsalted, Toasted
3 1/2 Tbsp Raw Sunflower Seeds, Unsalted, Toasted
30 Green or Red Grapes, Sliced in half
Orange-Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing (See Below for Recipe)
Orange-Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Orange Juice
½ tsp Orange Zest
1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme, Finely Chopped
1/4 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp 100% Maple Syrup
¼ tsp Shallots, Finely Chopped
Pinch Salt & Pepper
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Unfiltered
Salad Nutrition (without Dressing):
Serving Size: 3 Cups Veggies + ¼ Cup Avocado + 1/3 Cup Quinoa, 3 Tbsp Nut/Seed + 7 grapes
Nutrition: Cal 390, Fat 21g, Sat Fat 2g, Sod 95mg, Carb 41g, Fib 7g, Sug 25g, Added Sugars 0g, Pro 19g
Serving Size: About 2 Tbsp
Nutrition: Cal 130, Fat 14g, Sat Fat 2g, Sod 50mg, Carb 2g, Fib 7g, Sug 2g, Added Sugars 1g, Pro 0g
Nuts and seeds explode with B Vitamins (folate, B2, B6, B12). Each of these B Vitamins plays a special role in our brains, so don’t just assume that each nut and seed is nutritionally equal. Keep the Sweet & Spicy Walnuts at easy reach in the pantry for that reason.
It’s been an old wive’s tale that eating walnuts improve brain function. Turns out it’s true!
Once again, the B Vitamins play a role. Our Brains need specific B Vitamins to efficiently send a message throughout our body, otherwise, we could never function!
Think of Zinc and Iron as best friends. They work better when together. Check out the Zinc + Iron combos in most of our recipes:
Edamame (Soybeans) contain both Iron and Zinc!
Again, so full of Iron and Zinc from the soy-based Tofu.
Quinoa (Zinc) and Kale (Iron). The body also absorbs the Iron even better paired with the Vitamin C-rich Citrus dressing and Bell Peppers.
If we look inside our brain, zinc is found stored with the iron, proving how important their friendship is!
In fact, the part of the brain that forms new memories (it’s called the Hippocampus) stores most of the brain’s Zinc.
Bingo. We need Zinc to form new memories. And the iron works hard to carry oxygen to our brains. But it doesn’t stop there for Iron! Iron is required to make the Myelin (brain’s neuron protective covering) so the brain and spinal cord can send messages.
If you’re suddenly worried about becoming Iron or Zinc deficient, it’s probably safe to say that you’re receiving enough already. If you’ve had recent bloodwork and learned you’re low, then incorporating any one of these recipes as a snack or meal throughout the week helps immensely! The same applies to Omega 3 Fatty Acids (the ALA kind) and even B Vitamins.
Don’t let all of this science info spin your head! All I’m saying is that the best nutrition for your body is full of VARIETY.
At the end of the day, CHOOSE HIGH-QUALITY FOODS FOR BETTER SHORT AND LONG TERM MEMORY, and INTRODUCE A VARIETY OF INGREDIENTS so you have a variety of nutrients. You might find that your day to day thought processes start improving more quickly than you thought.
The above list of recipes will leave you with enough variety to try new things, plus the recipes are quick and easy to make.
Leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article on the recipes for improving your memory or if have any questions!