Top 10 Brainfood Everyday Meals
1. Mac and Cheese
Mac n’ cheese is a classic favorite for kids (and adults), and in this quick recipe using fresh cheese, whole grain pasta and ground flaxseeds and wheat germ, you will have an enhance brainfood version, packed with calcium, protein DHA Omega 3 fatty acids and other good things.
3 Cheese Brainfood Mac and Cheese
This is a brainfood version of the classic mac’n’cheese because it contains vegetables and whole grains, as well as flaxseeds and wheat germs. It is very simple to make and very similar in flavor to the classic mac’n’cheese, but it features the added benefits of protein, added vitamins and DHA Omega 3 fatty acid.
4 cups buckwheat or whole wheat elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded Pecorino Romani cheese
½ cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup cream
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
1 tablespoon ground wheat germ
- In a large pot with salt, cook the macaroni following the instructions on the package.
- Meanwhile, heat a pan with oil and add the cheeses, cream, flaxseeds and wheat germ.
- When the macaroni is cooked, drain and add to the cheese mixture and toss well. Serve immediately.
Integrating eggs into dishes is an easy way to render any basic meal into a brainfood meal. Eggs contain protein, Vitamin B 12, DHA Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A, D, calciu, iron and magnesium, and they are also add great flavor to savory recipes, like in this chicken and egg ricebowl recipe.
Chicken and Egg Domburi Ricebowl
Domburi means ‘bowl’ in Japanese, and it refers to one-dish meals with different meats or vegetables cooked in a simmered sauce or gravy and poured over warm rice. It is a got-to meal for me because no matter how picky my son may be, he will always eat a domburi.
4 chicken thighs
5 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons mirin (a sweet sake-based cooking liquid)
1 tablespoon cooking sake
4 cups cooked brown or white rice
- Cut the onion in half and then into thin slices. Cut the chicken into small chunks, discarding the skin. Chop the scallion into small pieces.
- Spread the onions in a pan and add the soy sauce, mirin, water and sake. Cook on low to medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.
- Add the chicken and cook for 5 yo 7 minutes, covered.
- In a small bowl, whip the eggs into a foamy mix; add the scallions and pour over the chicken in the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, covered, and remove from the heat while it is still soft and not completely cooked – the remaining heat will cook the eggs through.
- Pour the entire mixture into four bowls filled with the rice. Serve immediately.
Fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel and sardines contain the highest amounts of DHA Omega3 fatty acids. But until mackerel and sardines, salmon has a more neutral flavor and can be served in a variety of ways. Rather than simply roast it or pan fry it, try this recipe with a savory gravy.
Salmon with Mushroom Gravy
This is a simple way to make salmon with a mushroom and onion gravy. It is
great served with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, or over rice.
4 salmon steaks
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup chopped mushrooms
½ cup pearl onions or diced onions
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons mirin or sake
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon cold water
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Place the salmon on the foil and sprinkle with salt and let it stand for 5 minutes while you prepare the sauce.
- In a pan, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes until tender and translucent.
- Add the mushrooms and let it cook for 3-5 minutes until soft and tender.
- Place the fish in the oven. Add the soy, mirin and brown sugar to the mushrooms and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- In a cup, mix together the corn starch with water until it dissolves and add to the sauce. Let it simmer for 2 minutes.
- Take out the fish and divide unto serving plates. Pour the gravy with the mushrooms on top of the fish and serve.
Walnuts are a great superfood, containing a surprising amount of protein, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and DHA Omega 3. You can serve it as a snack on its own, or in a baked treat, but walnuts are also delicious in savory dishes combined with cream and pasta, like in this recipe.
Pasta with Butternut Squash and Walnut Cream Sauce
This light pasta is easy to make and is perfect when butternut squash comes into season in the fall. The squash is sweet, and the nutty flavor of walnuts blends well. This recipe contains beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, Omega-3, carbohydrates and calcium. You can also use pumpkin instead of butternut squash.
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
1 teaspoon sage
1 cup chicken stock
¼ cup warm cream
½ cup crushed walnuts
1 tablespoon of butter
14 ounces spagetti or linguini pasta
salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium-sized pot, combine the cubed squash with the sage and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Then simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, Boil the pasta and cook following the instructions on the package.
- Remove from heat and mash the squash with a fork or food processor.
- In a small pot, heat the cream until close to boiling. Then add the crushed walnuts and butter to the cream. Heat it for 4-6 minutes.
- Add the mashed butternut squash and mix well. Take off the heat.
- Drain the pasta and toss well with the butternut squash/cream mixture. Serve immediately.
Flaxseeds contain some of the highest amounts of DHA Omega 3 fatty acids, as well as folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals. In baked foods, flaxseeds can be used as an alternative for eggs, and in savory dishes, ground flaxseeds can be used as an integral part of the recipe, or sprinkled just before serving for the added brainfood element.
Fusilli with Boursin Cheese, Chives and Cream
This is a super simple recipe that you can make as quickly as you can boil the pasta. Boursin cheese is a very mild, creamy cheese with herbs and is great as a base for sauces for meat, seafood, fish and pasta.
A bunch of chives
4 cups uncooked fusili pasta
1 package Boursin cheese
¼ cup cream
¼ cup milk
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
1 tablespoon wheat germ
salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, bring water with salt to a boil.
- Meanwhile, wash and dice the chives into small pieces.
- Boil the pasta following the instructions on the package, usually 7-12 minutes.
- Drain the pasta, and then return it to the same pot with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. The heat of the past will melt the cheese and infurse the aroma of the chives into the cream sauce.
- Serve immediately.
Perhaps if we always referred to seaweed as sea vegetables, it would have a better image? While many people may be surprised in the U.S. to find that sea vegetables contain the highest vegetarian brainfood vitamins and minerals, in Asia, they are part of every day meals, either as a condiment, stewed side dishes, or as a snack.
Nori is best known as the seaweed that wraps sushi. But is it also a great stand-alone snack, and in Japan, we eat it like chips. It is crunchy and today there are great variety in flavors – like with sea salt, spices, or with lemon or orange zest. You can find them at Whole Foods, or you can order them through Amazon. It is a great snack on the go, and perfect for packed lunches.
Shrimp is a staple in the brainfood repertoire, and it is so versatile and easy to prepare. I serve it at least once a week, either as a stir-fry, roasted, or boiled and served simply with a dipping sauce. This shrimp cake recipe is a nice take on a croquette that is usually made with crabmeat.
Simple Shrimp Cakes
These shrimp cakes are a nice way to make a crunchy main dish or a snack with this protein source that is rich in DHA. My son loves these cakes, so I make extra batches for a meal, then leave the leftovers for his lunch box the following day.
5 tablespoons wheat germ
2 cups cooked shrimp (shelled and deveined)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon soy sauce,
1 tablespoon mirin
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 tabelspoon canola oil
3-4 tablespoons peanut oil for cooking.
- Spread the wheat germ evenly on a plate.
- In a food processor, blend the shrimp, chives, soy sauce, mirin, eggs, bread crumbs and oil.
- Scoop the mixture out of the processor and shape it into small patties. Dredge the patties in the wheat germ on the plate, making sure all sides are covered.
- Head a pan with the peanut oil and cook the patties for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden.
- Let cool on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Serve the shrimp cakes with a bit of soy sauce or on their own.
8. Hemp Seeds
Hemps seeds are another great vegetarian source for brainfood vitamins and minerals. Like flaxseeds, they are neutral in flavor, and can be added to milk shakes or smoothies, in meatloaves or meatballs, or sprinkled with a variety of dishes, like this beef and scallion dish.
Beef with Scallions and Hemp Seeds
This is a twist on a classic Japanese dish, Negima, scallions wrapped in thin slices of beef. Hemp seeds and canola oil increase the Omega-3 content.
2 thick New York strip or rib eye beef steaks
Bunch of green scallions
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon ground hemp seeds
- Wrap the beef steaks in plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes until it becomes slightly stiff. This allows you to cut into think slices.
- Wash the scallions and cut off the ends, keeping only the green parts; cut these into quarters. This should give you good size stems.
- Take the thin strips of beef, which should have softened and thawed a bit after being cut, and place on strip on a clean surface. Put three or four scallion stems inside, and then roll into something that looks like a cigar roll. Place on a plate. Repeat until all of the beef slices have been filled and rolled.
- In a pan, heat the canola and sesame oils. Cook the beef rolls carefully, on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes; carefully turn them over to the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the soy sauce, mirin and water. Cover the pan and cook fro another 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, sprinkle with hemp seeds and serve with rice.
Of all the brainfood protein sources, cod is probably the most versatile because of its mild flavor and tender texture. You can roast it simply with some salt and pepper and toss it with greens for a warm salad, mix it into a soup or pasta sauce. This cod and rice dish, with miso paste glazed on the fish for flavor, adds an interesting depth and aroma that I am sure your kids will love
Cod and Rice
This is a simple dish that takes a few minutes to prepare. Miso, the fermented soy bean paste most known for its soups, enhances fish, poultry and vegetables, and contains Omega 3, protein and other vitamins and minerals.
2 tablespoons of miso paste
1 tablespoon water
4 filets of cod
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon of ground flaxseeds
Rice and vegetables on the side
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a small bowl, mix the miso paste and water together until well integrated and smooth. Miso paste, depending on the bran, can be a bit think, so this allows you to water it down a bit in order to coat the fish.
- Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the cod on the foil and spread the miso paste evenly on top.
- Drizzle the sesame oil over the fish, topping it with the seeds (optional). Bake for 7-10 minutes.
- Serve with rice and some greens, like broccoli or snap peas.
10. Chia Seeds
Last but not least – chia seeds – my best brainfood everyday partner. Chia seeds resemble in texture and flavor to poppy seeds, I add them directly to cereals, pancake/bread/muffin batter or sprinkle them into sandwiches after spreading some pesto or mayonnaise. It is great with sweet dishes, like this bright orange fruit salad
Orange, Chia Seed and Mint Fruit Salad with Orange Blossom Syrup
This is a refreshing fruit salad served in many countries in the Maghreb region – Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria – perfect for warm summer afternoons as a snack or after a rustic meal like a couscous with beef. This recipe integrates crunchy chia seeds for a dose of DHA Omega 3. If you can’t find orange blossom extract, you can use the zest of one orange with a cup of water mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar.
2 navel oranges
3-5 mint sprigs
1 teaspoon orange blossom extract
Juice of ½ orange
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chia seeds
- Cut the peels off the oranges and cut them into thin slices. Lay them on 4 separate plates.
- Wash and cut the mint leaves into thin strips and lay them on top of the oranges.
- In a bowl, mix together the extract, orange juice, honey and chia seeds until well blended.
- Pour onto the oranges, break up the orange segments and serve.