Sunday, March 15, 2015

Feed Your Brain!

Unless we have obvious dietary-related health concerns (i.e. diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure), we may not stop to consider that what goes into our mouths affects ALL the systems in our body, including our brains. That’s why I was excited to have the opportunity to review Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson’s collaborative effort, The Healthy Mind Cookbook: Big Flavor Recipes to Enhance Brain Function, Mood, Memory, and Mental Clarity.

The book includes an introduction, three chapters on the science behind the project and the ingredients’ connection to brain function/health followed by seven chapters devoted to recipes in categories from soup to desserts. In the opening chapter, Katz and Edelson write, “Food and mood, food and memory, food and learning–all are being investigated, and there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that what we eat either primarily affects our brain or has secondary effects (for example, whatever you eat that’s heart healthy also may lower the risk of stroke, which is definitely a brain condition.)”

Chapter two begins, “The culinary pharmacy, open 24/7, is the place where you can dive in headfirst to the latest science behind nearly every ingredient in the book. The information here has been drawn from hundreds of peer-reviewed studies conducted with humans, animals, and in the lab, looking at the connections between foods and the brain.” I loved this chapter because the authors list out each of the healthful ingredients used in the cookbook along with the way that ingredient affects the brain. I had no idea that even herbs and spices would impact mood and functioning of your brain!

The recipe chapters are divided as follows: soups; vegetables; meat and seafood; anytime foods; dollops; tonics and elixirs; and sweet bites. Accompanying each chapter’s introduction, and scattered throughout the pages just like a well-seasoned dish, are beautifully photographed foods and dishes. The recipes themselves are well laid out. Although I have many years of kitchen experience under my belt (and I watch a lot of food-related programming), I believe that even a novice could follow these recipes for a successful outcome in their own kitchen. While the recipes contain the usual list of ingredients, preparation steps and detailed per serving nutritional information, the addition which I really appreciated is the storage tip at the end of many of the recipes. (I have, on occasion tossed left-overs because I was unsure if they would store or reheat well. No more waste with these recipes!)

I’ve only had the cookbook for a few days, but I can tell you that the Toasty Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and the Coconut Curry Cashews have already been a hit at my house. Both are quick and easy and make healthy snacks which are easy to bag up into serving sized snack bags for taking to work (or school). My daughter and I have a date to make the Meyer Lemon and Caper Hummus in the week ahead. I am finding it difficult to draw up my shopping list because so many of the recipes are calling out to be made!

Even if improving your health or the health of your family is not your top priority, or you are already doing a bang-up job of cooking healthy foods, you will want to get a copy of The Healthy Mind Cookbook. This book promises to be my first go-to cookbook when preparing meals for my family!

Thank you to for providing me with the review copy in exchange for this review.

From the Publisher . . .

A collection of more than 120 recipes formulated to optimize brain health, boost memory, improve mood, sharpen the central nervous system, and more.

Feed your mind.

Depression, ADHD, memory loss, agitation: These may seem like inevitable byproducts of modern lives spent multitasking, not getting enough sleep, and operating on digital overload. But while much of the brain’s work still remains a mystery, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the food you eat directly affects how well your brain functions. Brain health also plays a significant role in staving off diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

In The Healthy Mind Cookbook, Rebecca Katz has harnessed the latest research on the brain to identify the foods that can improve the brain’s ability to control cognition, emotion, and physical function—all of which dictate memory and mood. She then translates the very best of brain science into the kitchen, using delicious nutrient-dense foods as a tool for promoting a healthy mind from childhood through the golden years.

With a culinary pharmacy listing the benefits of key ingredients, complete nutritional details for each dish, and flavor-packed recipes for every meal of the day, including Avocado and Citrus Salad, Sweet Potato Hash, Turkish Lamb Sliders, and Chocolate Cherry Walnut Truffles, The Healthy Mind Cookbook will help lift the fog of everyday life so you can reach your full physical and mental potential.

About the Author . . .

As the senior chef-in-residence and nutritional educator at one of the country's leading cancer wellness centers, REBECCA KATZ, MS, is the culinary link bringing together physicians and patients with a common goal: eating well to maximize cancer treatments, minimize side effects, and improve outcomes. She is the founder of the Inner Cook, a Bay Area culinary practice that specializes in meeting the specific nutritional and appetite needs of cancer patients, and a senior chef at Commonweal Cancer Help Program in Marin County, California. Katz has been a guest chef and lecturer at top academic medical centers throughout the country, including the annual Food As Medicine conference.

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