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Cedars-Sinai Blog

Brain Food: Feed Your Head with the "Brain Bowl"

The Brain Bowl takes less than 30 minutes and has so many things that are proven to be good for your brain. The smoky, spicy chickpeas, the different textures, the zing of the turmeric and spices, and the bright citrus all play well with the base of crunchy greens.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped into ¾-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon each of turmeric, coriander, cumin
  • ½ teaspoon each of smoked paprika, garlic powder, cayenne
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • Purple cabbage or vegetable of choice, shredded
  • A couple of handfuls of greens for the base (kale or spring mix)
  • Hummus
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced almonds, about 3 tablespoons

Key ingredients and benefits:

  • Sweet potato. These orange vegetables are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that have been shown to improve cognitive function in elderly people. They also contain selenium, which is necessary for holding up the structure of the neurons and activating the enzymes in the brain.
  • Turmeric. This spice is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. An antioxidant, it can help protect against Alzheimer's disease by eliminating chemicals that damage the neurons. Research indicates it can improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer's and combat the damage done by certain plaques to the brains of people with the disease.

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400°F and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Add ½ tablespoon of oil and toss the potatoes until coated. Sprinkle with fine grain sea salt. Spread out the chopped sweet potato on one sheet.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Place on a large tea towel and pat until completely dry. Discard any skins that fall off. Transfer the chickpeas to the second baking sheet and drizzle with ½ teaspoon oil. Rub them around with your hands until lightly coated. Sprinkle with fine grain sea salt and the spices. Toss gently to combine and spread them out evenly.

Place both the sweet potato and chickpeas into the preheated oven. Roast for 15 minutes at 400°F and then remove both. Flip the sweet potatoes and gently toss the chickpeas. Place back in the oven for another 15 minutes. When the chickpeas are golden and the sweet potatoes are lightly browned on the bottom and fork tender, they are ready.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and transfer to a medium pot. Add 1¾ cups water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 13-16 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender and fluffy. Once quinoa is cooked, fluff with a fork and remove from heat. Season the quinoa to taste with a generous amount of salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Assemble the bowl: Place greens at the bottom of a large shallow bowl. When the roasted veggies and chickpeas are done, add them on top of the greens, followed by the sliced avocado, hummus, shredded veggies and almonds.

It's not one food or nutrient that keeps your brain healthy. It's the combination of many good foods that works. This is one of a series of simple and delicious brain food recipes designed to feed your head with brain-building nutrients.