The old saying goes…….”We are what we eat”. This means that to remain healthy and fit and active we must eat Healthy!
All of us could use a brain boost from time to time. Whether we are in a job that requires us to use our minds for hours on end or we just want to remember important dates and appointments, most of us wish there were things we could do to improve mental function. Fortunately, there are some foods out there that help to improve our overall mental functions. Let’s take a quick look at some of these brain food.
But do they really work? There’s no denying that as we age chronologically, our body ages right along with us. The good news is that you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain — if you add “smart” foods and beverages to your diet.
Need a Mental Boost – Try these Brain Foods
Chocolate, and specifically dark chocolate, has numerous health benefits if consumed in moderation. The cacoa beans are enriched with flavanoids and antioxidants and 50 grams of dark chocolate can be as good for the heart as a glass of red wine.
In addition, chocolate is known to improve mental health. Eating dark chocolate can release neurotransmitters to the brain and that can help with the production of endorphins and serotonin.
Acai berries come from South America and are a unique fruit that has protein and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Also, it is known that purple berries have high levels of vitamins and antioxidants.
One of the healthiest foods in the world to eat are blueberries. Not only do they have more antioxidants than any other fruit, but they have been linked to improved coordination, vision, and cognitive function.
Matcha is among the rarest and purest teas in the world. The tea is grown in shady conditions and is rich in both nutrients and chlorophyll.
The tea also is said to have a calming effect due to high concentrations of the amino acid L-Theanine. In addition, it has greater amounts of catechins, vitamins C and A, antioxidants, and even Flouride than normal tea.
By eating these and other brain foods, you are taking a positive step towards improved mental function. As always, talk to your doctor about any change in diet plans, especially if you are on any medications.
From the above ingredients I have incorporated dark chocolate in some desserts, together with another favourite ingredient”: Petimezi or Epsima, as it is called in the Cypriot dialect, which is “grape molasses”. Instead of Petimezi, you can also use Haroupomelo “carob molasses”, which is even better, as in the old days it was used as a substitute to chocolate but unfortunately I did not have any at the time of preparing the recipes.
I made this recipe early this month based on a previous recipe I had made. I don’t like making the same recipe over and over again but I try to incorporate ingredients I have at home.
Soft Petimezi, Dark Chocolate Chips, Almonds and Orange Cookies,recipe by Ivy
Preparation time: about 45 minutes
Baking time: 10 minutes
Makes: about 40 depending on the size
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
115 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup petimezi
1 large egg
1 tbsp orange zest
¾ cup roasted almonds skin on
1 cup dark chocolate chip cookies
1 – 2 tbsp flour (optional, if necessary)
Roast almonds for ten minutes and when they cool break them into small pieces using the food processor.
Line two large baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Mix in orange zest and set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add in petimezi and egg and beat for about 5 minutes on high.
Lower mixer speed and add the flour ingredients;. Mix just until the dough forms. It should be very sticky.
Refrigerate for half an hour.
Add the almonds and chocolate chips and mix. (If the dough is still too sticky add 1 – 2 tbsp flour).
Form into 2 – 3 cords about 1 ½ inch diameter . Wrap each one in cling film, place them on a tray and refrigerate for another half an hour.
Open the cling film and using a sharp knife cut them into small pieces and place them on your prepared baking tin. When done, form each piece into a round ball, which slightly flatten. Leave 3 cm (about an inch) space between them as they will flatten and expand.
Place both tins in a preheated oven to 170 degrees fan forced and bake for about 10 minutes depending on your oven until firm and edges just begin to darken. They will be soft on top but they will harden as they cool. If you make bigger cookies, increase time upto 18 minutes, depending on size.
Cool completely and store in air tight containers.
This cake was made on the same day, using almost the same ingredients.
Chocolate Petimezi Ginger cake, recipe by Ivy
115 grams unsalted butter, softened, plus more to grease the pan
1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup petimezi
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
¼ cup orange or mandarin juice
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spices
Preheat oven to 170 degrees fan forced. Butter a loaf pan and dust with cocoa powder. Tap out excess cocoa and set aside.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon on a piece of parchment paper.
Put butter, petimezi, brown sugar, and 1/4 juice in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter has melted. Transfer mixture to your mixer bowl and let it cool.
Add eggs, milk, and grated ginger to the mixer bowl and whisk on high to combine. Lower speed to low and add the flour mixture until just combined.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake cake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 – 40 minutes, depending on your oven. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack.