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Food to boost your brain

Grilled Moroccan Chicken

There are so many health and nutrition books in the market these days. Usually the books are written by physicians or other health professionals and the recipe sections are tacked on at the end.

It often seems like the recipe pages are fillers. Nobody buys these health books for the recipes.

But now there’s a new health-cookbook on the market, with recipes that have equal billing to the science.

The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed Your Memory is a collaborative work between nutritional scientist, and food maven, Edward Wein, and Norene Gilletz, a former columnist at The CJN and the author of 12 cookbooks. Gilletz died on Feb. 23.

Gilletz understood ingredients and how to combine them to create tasty recipes. If there was such a thing as a PhD in recipe development, Gilletz would have been awarded that degree long ago.

Wein has provided her with the foods that best promote brain health and she created recipes using these nutritionally dense ingredients. Of course every recipe is kosher, which is one of the many unique features of The Brain Boosting Diet.

In the first 100 pages, Wein gives the science information about the foods that boost brain health but he also gives a nutritional analysis of every recipe.

There are more than 200 recipes, but in “Norene’s Notes,” Gilletz often provides alternative foods and ways of preparing the various dishes, so 200 is more like 300 or 400 recipes.

There’s a whole section on fish because fish is “brain food,” so to speak. The emphasis is on fresh ingredients. For instance, Gilletz offers 25 recipes for salads and salad dressings that include Asian-style flavours.

The “Make-It-Meatless” chapter has crowd pleasers like Cauliflower-Crusted Pizza and Crustless Zucchini Quiche, along with a host of dairy-free and vegan options.

For carnivores, there are meat and chicken recipes like Sweet Potato Sheppard’s Pie, Hoisin Sesame Chicken, as well as Grilled Moroccan Chicken.

With theses recipes Gilletz has incorporated all kinds of herbs and spices to give the dishes’ healthy ingredients lots of flavour. She has served up delicious recipes that also boost brain health.


Nut-ritious Nut Butter

o 500 ml (2 cups) unsalted roasted almonds

o 15-30 ml (1-2 tbsp) grape-seed oil

o Pinch of salt

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the nuts with several quick on/offs to start, then process 30 seconds longer, until the nuts are coarsely ground.

Add 15 ml (1 tbsp) oil and the salt. Process the nut mixture for 2 minutes longer or until smooth and creamy, stopping the machine several times during processing to scrape down sides of the bowl. If the mixture seems dry, add additional oil and process until smooth.

Transfer to an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate. Makes 250 ml (1  cup).

Norene’s Notes:

This scrumptious brain-boosting spread makes a terrific alternative to peanut butter. Make sure that the nuts are totally fresh for best results.

• Go nuts! Instead of almonds, experiment with different kinds of nuts. Try 250 ml (1 cup) almonds plus 125 ml (½ cup) cashews and 125 ml (½ cup) walnuts or pecans.

• Chocolate nut butter: Use 375 ml (1½ cups) nuts and 125 ml (½ cup) chocolate chips (sugar-free or semisweet). Omit the oil. Process for 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy.

• Make-your-own almond meal/flour: Place 500 ml (2 cups) whole blanched almonds in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process with quick on/off pulses to start, then let machine run until finely ground, 25 to 30 seconds. Don’t over-process or you’ll get almond butter! Refrigerate or freeze. Makes about 500 ml (2 cups).


Colourful Kale Salad


o 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil

o 30 ml (2 tbsp) rice or apple cider vinegar

o 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon, mango or orange juice

o 15 ml (1 tbsp) honey

o 2 ml (½ tsp) Dijon mustard

o Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


o 1 medium bunch kale (about 500 g/1 lb)

o 15 ml (1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil

o 125 ml (½ cup) diced red onion

o 1 red bell pepper, diced

o 125 ml (½ cup) unsweetened dried cranberries (optional)

o 1 ripe Hass avocado

o 1 firm ripe mango

o 125 ml (½ cup) toasted sunflower seeds (for garnish)

To make the dressing, combine ingredients in a jar, cover tightly, and shake well. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the salad, wash the kale and dry it thoroughly. Remove and discard the tough stalks and centre veins. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces and place them in a large bowl.

Using your fingertips, massage the kale with the oil for 2 to 3 minutes to break down the tough fibres (kale reduces a lot after being massaged). Add the onion, red pepper and cranberries, if using, but do not toss. Cover and chill.

Shortly before serving, peel, pit and dice the avocado and mango. Add them to salad. Drizzle with the dressing, and toss gently to combine. Sprinkle sunflower seeds over top. Makes 6 servings

Norene’s Notes:

Green power: Kale is nutrient-packed and an excellent source of fibre and iron. This colourful salad also works well with spinach, leafy mixed greens, or your favourite salad greens.

• Make it a meal: Add sliced cooked chicken or turkey, or chunks of poached salmon.

• Passover option: Instead of rice vinegar, use white wine vinegar or lemon juice. Omit the mustard. Replace the sunflower seeds with toasted walnuts, pecans, pistachios, or slivered almonds.


Grilled Moroccan Chicken

o 6 boneless, skinless single chicken breasts (or 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs)

o Salt and freshly ground black pepper

o 3 cloves garlic (about 15 ml/1 tbsp)minced

o 45 ml (3 tbsp) minced fresh mint (see Norene’s Notes)

o 15 ml (1 tbsp) minced fresh thyme

o 5 ml (1 tsp) ground cumin

o 5 ml (1 tsp) sweet paprika

o 2 ml (½ tsp) turmeric

o 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil

o 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice (preferably fresh)

Lightly sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place them in a resealable plastic bag.

In a small bowl, combine the garlic, mint, thyme, cumin, paprika, turmeric, olive oil and lemon juice and mix them well. Pour this marinade over the chicken in the plastic bag, seal tightly, and shake the bag to coat all the sides. (The chicken can be prepared in advance up to this point and marinated up to two days in the refrigerator.)

Preheat the barbecue or grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade and drain well. Discard the marinade.

Grill the chicken over indirect heat, about 4 to 6 minutes per side, until grill marks appear and the juices run clear. (A two-sided indoor grill will cook in half the time of a gas or charcoal grill.) The chicken breasts will be done in 4 to 6 minutes total time, depending on their thickness. They will register at 74 C (165 F) on an instant-read thermometer. Makes 6 servings

Norene’s Notes:

• Herb-alicious: Instead of mint, use coriander, basil, or parsley. If you don’t have fresh herbs, substitute 5 ml (1 tsp) dried for 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh.

• Variation: Instead of lemon juice, use orange, lime, or pomegranate juice.