Cooking On The Brain

By / Food / November 5th, 2012 / 1


I came across a new cookbook called MINDfull created by Chef Daphna Rabinovich in partnership with the Women of Baycrest, a facility located in Ontario that’s also a world-renowned leader in research into aging and brain health. The authors come from a broad range of disciplines. They’re chefs, nutritionists, scientists and doctors. Together they solved a problem most people encounter in their efforts to become healthier. They gathered the healthiest foods (particularly in terms of the brain) and created very tasty recipes.

We’ve all heard that açai berries are healthful as well as chocolate, wine, and you can probably come up with at least ten other “superfoods”. Sure, all of these foods can be healthful. But, how much should you eat of any particular one? How do you combine it with other ingredients and still get the most out of it?

The MINDfull authors have answered the questions. So far, I’ve tried three of the over 100 recipes in this book, and each one has been a winner — quick and easy to prepare and, most important, super tasty. Today, I’ve got my eye on mixing up the Bet-You-Can’t-Eat-Just-One Cereal Cookies as the perfect low-calorie, high-energy snack. For dinner tonight, I’m going with the Sweet Pepper & Barley Risotto Tart with Spinach and Pine Nuts. Sounds scrumptious, doesn’t it? A couple of dinners ago, I decided to go a little bit lighter. I tried a recipe contributed by Chef Chuck Hughes. His Grilled Salmon with Green Salad and Apple Vinaigrette was absolutely to die for. And don’t get me started on breakfast. One of this year’s Maverick Chefs Chef Dale MacKay’s Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes with Ricotta Topping is awesome. Does it all sound too healthy for you? Not to worry, the taste will make you think you’re indulging.

MINDfull is only available for purchase by download onto a phone or tablet. As far as I could tell, it is not available in hardcopy format. That’s a bit of a downer, for me at least. I’m used to cooking from a cookbook. I don’t like having my phone exposed to whole wheat flour dust or sticky fingers. But, that’s a small complaint. It’s working out for me thus far. Check it out on iTunes.

In the meantime, here’s my rendition of one of the recipes you’ll find in MINDfull.

Curried Lentil & Wheatberry Salad with Mango (adapted)

I couldn’t find wheatberries, and I had a can of cooked lentils already in my pantry. In the end, I used neither (and I didn’t really follow the recipe either). I took a drive over to my newly opened local Bulk Barn in the hopes of finding wheatberries. I didn’t find them. Instead, they had some very interesting rice mixtures. One of which, called the Jade Blend, included Bamboo rice, wheatberries, green lentils and a few other tasty additions. I used one cup of that mixture and cooked it like rice. It turned out fluffy and tasting fabulous. For the dressing, I followed the recipe exactly, but dressed the salad very lightly. “Wow!” was all I heard around the dinner table. Because the curry flavour was so subtle, the diverse flavours of the jade blend could stand out nicely. I also used dried cranberries instead of the dried currants called for in the original recipe because that’s what I happened to have on hand. One green onion, instead of six, seemed just right to me.

1 cup Jade blend (or your favourite rice mix)
1/3 cup orzo pasta
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 green onion, sliced
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and diced

1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp each ground coriander and salt
1/4 tsp each paprika, turmeric and ground cardamom
Pinch black pepper
1/3 cup canola oil

  • Cook Jade blend according to package directions. I boiled 1-3/4 cups salted water, poured in the rice mix along with the orzo, brought the whole mixture back to a boil, then reduced it to a simmer. After about 15 minutes, it was cooked through and fluffy. I spooned it into a serving bowl and let it cool while I made the dressing.
  • In a small bowl, I combined all ingredients except the canola oil. That, I whisked in slowly. Once it had combined, I poured the dressing a little at a time over the rice dish. I didn’t want to soak the dish or overpower the flavours. Taste it every once in a while as you pour to make sure it’s at the right flavour profile for you.
  • Serve at room temperature perhaps with a crisp Pecorino.

Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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