Super Summer Salad for Brain Health

 
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We’ve been discussing how lovely it is to visit a farmer’s market, roadside stand, or your favorite grocery store this time of year for delicious seasonal produce.

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Need some tips for hosting a cooking demo with seasonal veggies that also may help with Alzheimer’s prevention? Keep reading!

There are several delicious ingredients that may aid in protecting your precious cognition. A MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), for example, has been found to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 1

Here's what you need to know...

MIND Your Peas and Qs:

The diet was developed as part of a study done by the National Institutes of Aging in 2015 by a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center. The MIND diet is heavily plant-based, advising up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Green leafy vegetables, berries, nuts and seeds, and sources of omega-3-fatty acids have all been found to play a part in reducing the risk for dementia. The MIND diet reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s by 35% in those following it moderately and strict followers had a 53% reduced risk. 1

Summer Greens:

This is the perfect time of year to highlight summer’s bounty of green leafy vegetables including kale, spinach, arugula, and butter lettuce. Greens of all kinds provide vitamin C, lutein, and potassium as well as vitamin K.

In addition to greens, add seasonal fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries for gorgeous color, taste, and texture. Berries provide anthocyanins and flavonoids, which have been linked with a reduced risk of dementia.

In taking care of your brain, include more omega-3-fatty acids from grilled or baked salmon or other fatty fish, or add chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, or chopped walnuts in your salad. Experts advise 2 servings of fish per week to reduce the risk of heart disease and dementia. 2

So, now you have your seasonal ingredients. What will you do with them? Why not try combining them in this tasty salad, which is perfect for your next cooking demonstration?

Spinach Blueberry Salad with Ginger Lemon Vinaigrette

Try this salad for your next demo. You can also treat your friends, family, or yourself!

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 bag baby spinach leaves
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries- rinsed
  • 1 cucumber- sliced and quartered
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tsp. honey

Directions:

  1. Wash & dry spinach leaves and place in a large bowl.
  2. Add blueberries, chopped cucumbers, green onions, walnuts, and feta cheese.
  3. Whisk the canola oil, lemon juice, sesame oil, ginger paste, and honey together for dressing.
  4. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss right before serving.

Makes 6 servings.

Are you going to demo this salad? Here are some more tips, just for you!

Tips for Hosting a Successful Cooking Demo:

  1. Keep the recipe simple and practice before you show it off to others.
  2. Prep ingredients ahead of time to reduce stress. If chopping onions makes you cry, chop and store them before your demo.
  3. Consider all the utensils you’ll need including knives, can openers, serving spoons, and mixing bowls. Bring multiple knives or cutting boards if needed.
  4. Ask for help. Contact a local university to see if students or interns can assist with your demo. They can prep food, carry equipment or help with serving and cleanup.
  5. Use clear, glass containers to stage your ingredients. Participants can see through them but they can’t see through plastic or ceramic bowls.
  6. Place ingredients in the order they appear in the recipe to make preparation easy.
  7. Have storage containers on hand for leftovers.
  8. Bring copies of your recipe and business cards for future work!

By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

Free Handout: Cooking Demo Tips

CookingDemoTips Super Summer Salad for Brain Health

Resources:

  1. What is the MIND Diet? A Detailed Beginner's Guide | U.S. News Best Diets (usnews.com)
  2. Aline Thomas, PhD student, Inserm U1219, Bordeaux Population Health Research Center, Bordeaux University, France; Lona Sandon, PhD, RDN, LD, program director and associate professor, department of clinical nutrition, school of health professions, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Neurology, Nov. 3, 2021
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