I have felt drawn to writing a book, and a cookbook, for as long as nutrition and health has been a passion of mine, which has been a very long time. But the seed for Eat to Beat Alzheimer’s, was planted specifically in a conversation that I had with my step-father a few years ago.
In the book, I write about our relationship and what he meant to me. My step-father was an important figure in my life, and when he was very ill, and dying, I went to spend time with him while he was in the hospital. And although he was very important to me, I was never sure how important I was to him. In other words, he didn’t make much effort, perhaps didn’t know how, to connect with me on a deeper level. That is, until we were alone in the hospital.
As we discuss brain health, mood, and nutrition, we would be remiss to ignore how these issues can play out in childhood. The impacts from the standard American diet and lifestyle are showing up earlier and earlier in life. Children suffer from a number of health related issues, such as Early-Onset Diabetes, Autoimmune Disorders, Autism, ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder), depression and anxiety. While these are all multifaceted issues, meaning there are likely to be multiple causes and factors involved, nutrition and diet have been shown to play a significant role in reducing symptoms and in some cases, bringing children into full remission from a diagnosis.
I like eggs and the protein they provide, but I’ve gotten a bit tired of them. I find this dish more interesting and enjoyable, and I like the added dimension of red potatoes. Spinach is high in antioxidants and is a rich source of folate and vitamin C. Folate is the form of folic acid found in food. Folic acid is a member of the B vitamin family. Low folate levels are connected with poor cognitive function and dementia in the elderly. Spinach also contains a wide variety of phytonutrients, including flavonoids and carotenoids. Spinach’s flavor compounds have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. You will notice red potatoes in this recipe. While I don’t often use potatoes, as they are members of the nightshade family, I do eat them occasionally. Depending on your sensitivity, you may want to consider using potatoes sparingly or leaving them out entirely.
Pancakes are always a big hit with guests and children. Additionally, they store well and can be made ahead for an easy weekday breakfast. But don’t underestimate the potential of pancakes for dinner! Alongside your favorite steamed veggies, or a light soup, these pancakes make a satisfying dinner. These pancakes are packed with omega 3 fatty acids. For a twist, try using another winter squash in place of the pumpkin. Simply cut the squash in half, seed, and spread coconut oil or butter on the cooked half, then bake, cut side down on a baking dish at 350° for 45 minutes. Spoon out the flesh and mash or blend and use in place of the pumpkin puree.
This is a lovely way to prepare salmon, the pan of water creates a moist environment, and the low baking temperature allows the salmon to cook slowly, virtually ensuring success. The lemon relish is a tasty complement to salmon’s natural sweetness. Salmon is prized for its high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, but it has many other benefits as well. Salmon has bioactive peptides that provide support for joint cartilage, insulin effectiveness and control of inflammation in the digestive tract. Salmon is rich in vitamins D, B3, B6 and the minerals selenium and phosphorus, as well as protein.
This dazzling salad is a big hit with guests and at potlucks. It’s bright, colorful and utterly appealing. For added flair, consider slicing the beets or cutting them into fine matchsticks. Beets are mighty, yet humble root vegetables. They contain powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Like other cruciferous vegetables, kale has a high concentration of the antioxidants carotenoids and flavonoids, which have been shown to prevent cancer. Kale is also an excellent source of vitamin K, which is a critical nutrient in supporting the body’s inflammatory process. This is a wonderful salad for any point along your journey to better health.
The secret to a good stir-fry is to be prepared with all of the ingredients chopped and measured and at the ready when you begin heating the oil. This recipe uses pre-cooked chicken, so you don’t have to worry about timing the cooking of the raw meat. I like stir-frys because they are an easy way to incorporate beneficial spices that taste good. Plus, kids like it and it makes for great leftovers. Coconut aminos are a product made from the sap of the coconut tree. They are a sustainable, soy-free alternative to soy sauce for those who prefer to avoid soy. This recipe is packed full of turmeric, which is a potent anti-inflammatory. It has been used in Chinese and Indian medicine for centuries, and growing evidence demonstrates that turmeric offers protection against neurodegenerative diseases.
This gingery salmon soup is bright and rich—a perfect follow-up to a day outdoors. Or, make it ahead of time and take some along in a thermos. Wild Alaskan salmon is an abundant source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Healing herbs are a perfect accompaniment to salmon’s Omega 3 fatty acids. This is a tasty way to prepare salmon, particularly for those who have not yet learned to appreciate salmon’s many charms.
This lovely, bright salad is a great introduction to the peppery and lovely watercress. Watercress is a humble, cruciferous, aquatic green leafy vegetable eaten since ancient times. Long considered food for the lower classes, it has only recently regained popularity due to hits high nutritional value. Watercress provides numerous health benefits, including cancer prevention, lowering blood pressure and healthy bone support. It is rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, iron, calcium and folate. Among other benefits, an increase in folate consumption has been shown to improve cognition and verbal fluency – good news for prevention of cognitive decline!
This gentle curry is a sweet combination of sweet and mild heat. In addition to balancing the squash’s natural sweetness, the curry paste provides antioxidants and cancer-fighting benefits. If you prefer a more robust curry taste, feel free substitute with a stronger curry paste. Winter squash, such as butternut, provides many vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, potassium and magnesium, as well as Omega 3 and fiber.
1 cup shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 pound butternut squash
1 can chickpeas
½ cup cilantro
2 cups quinoa
Peel and slice shallot and garlic. Peel and remove seeds from one large butternut squash, chop into bite-sized chunks. Rinse and drain one can chickpeas. Chop cilantro.
Cook quinoa according to package instructions.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 can coconut milk
3 tablespoons mild curry paste, or more to taste
1 teaspoon salt
In a large pot over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until shallot is soft, about 3 minutes. Add coconut milk, curry paste and salt, bring to a boil. Add squash, return to boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Stir in chickpeas and cilantro, continue to cook until warmed through.
Slice lime into wedges; serve curry with a squeeze of lime over a bed of quinoa.
Preparation: 30 minutes
Francie Healey is the author of "Eat To Beat Alzheimer's and has a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is both a Certified Health Counselor and Licensed Mental Health Counselor.practitioner.