Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean ChiliAnything that keeps my mind sharp is OK by me. I mean, who doesn't want to boost their brain power?
I didn't realize how important it is for young women like us to feed our minds. When I think about a boosting brain power, I often think about how crucial it is to ensure a healthy brain as you age (to head off cognitive decline later in life).
In EatingWell's October 2008 issue author Rachael Moeller Gorman writes about the foods and nutrients that are crucial to boost brain power and keep you sharp from infancy into old age. But she includes quite a bit of information for a mid-twenties woman like me and for my friends who are pregnant or raising young kids.
- Even if you're in your twenties or thirties, studies show that just being mildly iron-deficient affects learning, memory and attention. Make sure you're getting enough iron by eating dark leafy greens, beans, meat or soy.
Get more iron by making Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili for dinner tonight:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
2 14-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1-2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 cups cooked wheat berries (recipe follows)
Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, chipotle to taste, broth and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
2. Stir in cooked wheat berries and heat through, about 5 minutes more. (If using frozen wheat berries, cook until thoroughly heated.) Remove from the heat. Stir in lime juice. Garnish each bowl with avocado and cilantro. Makes 6 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each.
Cooked Wheat Berries
Sort through 2 cups hard red winter-wheat berries carefully, discarding any stones. Rinse well under cool running water. Place in a large heavy saucepan. Add 7 cups cold water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 386 calories; 11 g fat (1 g sat, 7 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 61 g carbohydrate; 14 g protein; 15 g fiber; 703 mg sodium; 311 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (130% daily value), Fiber (72% dv), Folate (48% dv), Iron & Vitamin A (25% dv).
- If you're expecting, incorporate fatty fish, such as salmon, into your diet. Eating fatty fish in your third trimester of pregnancy may help your baby perform better on cognitive tests in his first year of life.
Honey-Soy Broiled SalmonTry Honey-Soy Broiled Salmon, coated with a sweet, tangy and salty mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar and honey that does double-duty as marinade and sauce. Toasted sesame seeds provide a nutty and attractive accent. To make it a meal, serve with brown rice and sautéed red peppers and zucchini slices.
Makes 4 servings
1 scallion, minced
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 pound center-cut salmon fillet, skinned, and cut into 4 portions
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1. Whisk scallion, soy sauce, vinegar, honey and ginger in a medium bowl until the honey is dissolved. Place salmon in a sealable plastic
bag, add 3 tablespoons of the sauce and refrigerate; let marinate for 15 minutes. Reserve the remaining sauce.
2. Preheat broiler. Line a small baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.
3. Transfer the salmon to the pan, skinned-side down. (Discard the marinade.) Broil the salmon 4 to 6 inches from the heat source until cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. Drizzle with the reserved sauce and garnish with sesame seeds.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 234 calories; 13 g fat (3 g sat, 5 g mono); 67 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrate; 23 g protein; 0 g fiber; 335 mg sodium; 444 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Selenium (60% daily value), excellent source of omega-3s.
- If you're feeding a baby, also aim for him to get enough iron from food, such as iron-fortified cereals, or supplements. Iron supports brain development and by 5 or 6 months babies have used up the iron stores they're born with and they can't get enough from breast milk.
- If you have a young child or teen, make sure she gets her morning fuel. School-aged children should start their day with low-glycemic-index breakfast foods. Food solutions: Bran cereals, oatmeal or whole-wheat bagels.
Try this recipe for Banana-Walnut Oatmeal, with mashed banana to lend both sweetness and potassium, while walnuts add omega-3 fatty acids along with an appealing crunch.
1 cup low-fat milk
1 cup water
Pinch of salt
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
Combine milk, water and salt in a medium saucepan; heat until almost boiling. Add oats and cook, stirring, until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in mashed banana and maple syrup. Divide between 2 bowls, sprinkle with walnuts and serve.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 306 calories; 7 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 8 mg cholesterol; 54 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 6 g fiber; 144 mg sodium; 392 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Magnesium (33% daily value), Calcium (19% dv).
By Brierley Wright, M.S., R.D.
Brierley's interest in nutrition and food come together in her position as an associate editor at EatingWell. Brierley holds a master's degree in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. A Registered Dietitian, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Vermont.
Related Links from EatingWell:
- Find 20+ more recipes for healthy eating during pregnancy.
- Read more about smart foods for every age.
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