It’s that time of year again, and as finals dreadfully dawn in Storrs, I’m bringing you a week’s worth of “brain food” to get you awake and motivated. Most of rely on endless cups of coffee to get us through the week (I’m probably the guiltiest of all). And when it comes to food for the week- that is, if we remember to eat, it’s usually grabbing a snack on the go between an exam and the library. There are a few healthy options at the library (go for the yogurt parfait, or a protein bar over the candy or chips), but if you have the chance to eat at your place or at least make something to bring with you to the library, DO SO! According to a post from Healthy Eats on the Food Network site, eating better can improve your academic performance immensely:
“High-fat packaged snacks, fried foods and other calorie-laden choices (late-night pizza run, anyone?) are tempting, but these foods will only fill you up (too much) and slow you down. You’ll feel sleepy, especially if you indulge towards the end of the day. In fact, a new study suggests that fatty foods can bog down your short-term memory — no good if you’re in the middle of exams or a big project.”
With that in mind, check back throughout the weak to read my latest post of finals edition. In addition to an easy recipe, I’ll throw in a snack suggestion you can buy at the store if you don’t have any time to cook. Best of luck to everyone on exams!
Brain food #1: Fruit (in particular, berries)
The antioxidants in berries has been proven to improve short-term memory (hello flash cards), plus they’re really healthy for your diet. They’re very versatile and you can throw them in anything from cereal to smoothies, or enjoy them on their own. Fruit also lends itself beautifully to yogurt (see my parfait recipe). Warning: they are on the expensive side of the scale when it comes to grocery shopping; however, a little goes a long way when you use them the right way. One way to do so is to mix them in a quick and easy fruit salad.
- Whatever fruit you want to use really, but consider the facts about berries and maybe this week opt for the blueberries, strawberries and raspberries: a winning combo. I also threw in one of my favorite fruit, pineapple, but grapes,blackberries or peaches are other good choices. Unless you’re serving for a lot of people, only buy a pack of each kind, since they’re pretty pricey especially since it’s not quite season yet for most of these berries yet.
- The juice of one lemon, to kick up the flavor
Now, you can leave it as is and enjoy the fruit the natural way (the healthier option), but I hear a lot of people complain about fruit (it’s too boring on its own, not tasty enough), so if you’d like make my poppyseed dressing, or throw these items together to drizzle over the salad:
- A dash of sugar (don’t overdo it, the fruit already has natural sugar)
- A dash of poppy seeds (not vital- I just had them in my cabinet)
- About 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar
- About 1 teaspoon of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- A dash of cinnamon powder
- A dash of salt
- Rinse and drain all the fruit and put it all in a bowl.
- Stir it all together then top with lemon juice, squeezing the lemon right over the salad, facing the lemon up so you don’t drop any of the seeds in. Stir again.
- Leave it here if you want to enjoy the fruit on its own. Otherwise mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and stir thoroughly, making sure the thickness of the honey dissolves into the oil and vinegar.
- Drizzle the dressing over the bowl and stir the fruit together again, making sure you get every corner. If you want to, drain the salad again for just a second to get the excess dressing out before putting back in the bowl.
- Store the salad in the fridge since it tastes better cold, and enjoy it by itself, or with yogurt in a parfait.
Here’s a step-by-step:
rinse and drain all the fruit
Stir all the fruit together and squeeze a fresh lemon over the salad
Prepare the dressing, stirring thoroughly
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and stir again
The Food Network has an entire collection of fruit salad recipes. Here’s some of the best:
Paula Deen’s fruit salad (Paula Deen makes a healthy dish??) with honey dressing: the orange juice adds a nice touch
Grilled fruit salad from Sunny Anderson: a unique twist
A fruit salad made on Barefoot Contessa featuring all those healthy berries
Pretzels with hummus. Healthy carbs are our brain’s primary energy source. Go for the whole-wheat pretzels since they’re also a good source of fiber. Flavor it up with a low-fat hummus of your choice. My advice is to dish yourself a big spoonful of hummus and a handful of pretzels, then put the stuff away, this snack can be very addicting! Got the time? Try my hummus recipe.