(Family Features) When it comes to staying healthy, there is a natural emphasis on physical fitness. However, it’s important to know that nurturing and maintaining brain health is also important for leading a fulfilling life.
The brain is the command center of the human body and as such, influences every aspect of life. Maintaining brain health requires providing it with nourishment, rest and healthy stimulation.
Consuming healthy, whole foods, including vegetables and fruits, such as grapes, can help establish a strong foundation for brain health. For example, grapes may help protect against metabolic decline in the brain associated with natural aging; in a human study of elderly subjects with mild cognitive decline, UCLA researchers found consuming 2 1/4 cups of grapes every day preserved healthy metabolic activity in regions of the brain associated with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, where metabolic decline takes hold.
Adding grapes to your favorite healthy recipes, or enjoying them as a simple snack, helps support a healthy brain. Consider these additional ways to promote positive brain health from the experts at the Mayo Clinic.
Health experts recommend aiming for at least seven hours of sleep per night. As noted by the Mayo Clinic, adequate sleep may help boost overall memory and brain health by giving the brain time to effectively consolidate memories.
Follow a Healthy Diet
Eating nutritiously benefits the body in many ways, including playing a role in brain health. Healthy eating plans like the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plant-based foods, whole grains, fish, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables, are thought by experts to be especially beneficial. Recipes like Warm-Spiced Chickpeas and Couscous with Grapes and Arugula deliver an array of ingredients to support brain health in delicious ways. This recipe is also heart smart because what is good for the heart is also good for the brain.
Keep in touch with family and friends. According to health experts, including the Mayo Clinic, staying connected and interacting socially can help defend against depression and stress, which may contribute to memory loss.
Staying physically active provides well-known benefits for the body, and exercising can also benefit the brain by increasing blood flow to it. Once your workout is over, turn to a post-workout snack like Grapes from California for an energy boost and natural hydration.
Keep Your Mind Active
Like muscles throughout your body, the brain should be used continuously to strengthen it. With nearly endless ways to stimulate the mind, there’s something for everyone to keep their brains in shape from crossword or jigsaw puzzles to reading, learning a new language, playing cards or conquering sudoku.
To find more information about the connection between grapes and health, or discover nutritious recipes, visit GrapesfromCalifornia.com.
Warm-Spiced Chickpeas and Couscous with Grapes and Arugula
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional, to taste, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup Israeli pearl couscous
- 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 can (15 ounces) no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
- 1 cup red Grapes from California, halved
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 cups lightly packed baby arugula
- lemon wedges
- In large saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and allspice; cook, stirring, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add couscous and stir 1 minute to toast lightly. Add turmeric and water; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until couscous is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Stir chickpeas, grapes and cilantro into couscous then season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer couscous-grape mixture to large bowl, add arugula and toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges.
Nutritional information per serving: 370 calories; 12 g protein; 61 g carbohydrates; 9 g fat (17% calories from fat); 1 g saturated fat (2% calories from saturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 160 mg sodium; 8 g fiber.
(Family Features) The winter months provide many occasions to celebrate, and no celebration is complete without tasty treats. A perfect partner for a broad variety of flavors, popcorn is a versatile pantry staple that can be served plain or as a better-for-you addition to seasonal snacks.
With no artificial additives or preservatives, light and airy popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO and gluten free, making it a sensible option to satisfy cravings for something savory, sweet and just about every flavor in-between. Plus, whole-grain popcorn has energy-producing carbohydrates and fiber, which can help keep you satisfied longer.
As a way to honor one of America’s oldest and most beloved snack foods, National Popcorn Day on Jan. 19 is a perfect opportunity to pop up a bowl to enjoy with loved ones or create whole-grain culinary masterpieces like fragrant and flavorful Jamaican Jerk Popcorn, which features hot pepper, spices and jerk butter to help you warm up from the inside out. Or consider another tasty snack option like Furikake Popcorn, a lighter recipe exploding with the flavors of sesame, nori and a Japanese spice blend.
You can combine favorite flavors for movie night with Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Popcorn, which is perfect for settling in on a snowy winter’s eve, and an option like Rocky Road Popcorn Clusters, featuring chocolate, marshmallows and nuts, are perfect for sharing with loved ones after an evening meal.
Find more fun, fluffy and flavorful recipes to celebrate everything winter has to offer at Popcorn.org.
Yield: 2-3 servings
- 1 nori sheet, broken into pieces
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 6 cups popped popcorn
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- To make furikake seasoning: In spice grinder or using mortar and pestle, grind nori with 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds until finely ground. Transfer to small bowl; stir in remaining sesame seeds, salt and sugar.
- In large bowl, toss popcorn with butter and furikake seasoning until evenly coated.
- Tips: Use store-bought furikake seasoning and season to taste.
- To toast sesame seeds: In small dry skillet over medium heat, cook sesame seeds 2-3 minutes, or until lightly golden and fragrant. Let cool completely before using.
Jamaican Jerk Popcorn
Yield: 4-6 servings
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon minced, seeded scotch bonnet chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 cups popped popcorn
- In small saucepan, combine butter, chili pepper, lime zest, chili powder, thyme, allspice, pepper, ginger, garlic powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, onion powder and salt. Cook over low heat 3-5 minutes, or until butter melts and mixture is fragrant.
- In large bowl, toss popcorn with spice mixture until evenly coated.
Tip: Omit scotch bonnet pepper and substitute 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, if preferred.
Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Popcorn
Yield: 6-8 servings (1 cup each)
- 1/4 cup nonfat Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon dried sage
- black pepper, to taste
- 12 cups air-popped popcorn
- 3/4 cup turkey pepperoni, cut into bite-size bits
- olive oil cooking spray
- In small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, sage and pepper; mix well.
- In large bowl, combine popcorn and turkey pepperoni; spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray.
- Sprinkle popcorn and pepperoni with cheese mixture; toss to coat evenly.
Rocky Road Popcorn Clusters
Yield: 3 dozen
- 1 bag (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 4 cups popped popcorn
- 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- In small microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate chips in microwave on high 1 minute, until melted. Stir in vegetable oil.
- In large bowl, add popcorn, marshmallows and walnuts. Pour melted chocolate over mixture, tossing to coat.
- Drop mixture by tablespoonful onto wax paper-lined jellyroll pan.
- Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
Source: Popcorn Board
(Family Features) Hearty snacks, seasonal sides, flavorful main dishes and tantalizing desserts all complement one another perfectly for holiday celebrations among loved ones. This year, when planning your menu, be sure to consider recipes that keep family and friends content from the moment they hang up their coats to the goodbye hugs.
These delicious options for a satisfying bread bowl, pumpkin spice potatoes, artfully glazed lamb chops and fresh apple pie can bring your guests running to the kitchen (and keep them there) as you celebrate all the season has to offer.
Find more recipes fit for holiday festivities at Culinary.net
Beckon Holiday Guests with a Bread Bowl
While your loved ones wait patiently for the main course to be served, hearty appetizers like bread bowls can keep appetites at bay. This Spinach-Ham Dip is the perfect combination of comforting and satisfying when served with bread cubes, crackers or tortilla chips for a warming snack ahead of the big meal.
To find more seasonal appetizer inspiration, visit Culinary.net.
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1/4 pound ham, cubed
- 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 round bread loaf (16 ounces), unsliced
- Heat oven to 350 F.
- In medium bowl, blend ricotta cheese and sour cream until smooth. Add spinach, ham, Parmesan cheese and green onions; mix until blended.
- Cut 1-2-inch diameter circle out of top of bread loaf. Reserve top. Remove bread inside loaf, leaving about 1 inch along sides. Pour cheese mixture into bread bowl. Replace top. Cover bread loaf in aluminum foil and bake 60 minutes, or until warmed through.
- Take bread removed from inside bread bowl and cut into dipping sized chunks.
- Remove bread from aluminum foil and place on platter. Scatter bread chunks around bread bowl to use for dunking in cheese sauce.
A Seasonal Side with a Tasty Twist
No matter what life may look like this holiday season, you can put a smile on loved ones’ faces with classic meals and sides that memories are made of.
You can use a traditional holiday ingredient, potatoes, to make easy yet delicious recipes like these Pumpkin Spice Scalloped Potatoes. Perfect for serving with your favorite main course, they’re a tasty twist on a classic sweet potato casserole.
Plus, they’re made with Little potatoes that come ready to use with no washing or peeling required, perfect for busy families during bustling holiday gatherings. Try them roasted, boiled, smashed or mashed in your favorite seasonal dishes. For a time-saving hack, use the slicer attachment in a food processor to evenly slice potatoes in minutes.
Visit littlepotatoes.com for more holiday recipe inspiration.
Pumpkin Spice Scalloped Little Potatoes
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 pounds Terrific Trio Little Potatoes, 1/8-inch sliced, kept in water until ready to use
- 5 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced, cooked until crisp and drained
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup pecans, rough chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- In pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low then slowly add milk gradually, ensuring it is incorporated before adding more. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until thickened, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In bowl, add drained potatoes, sauce, bacon, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Season with salt and pepper, to taste; mix well.
- In greased 8-by-11-inch baking dish, line potatoes on sides in desired pattern. Stuff extra bacon between potatoes from remains left in bowl. Pour extra sauce over potatoes.
- Bake 60 minutes.
- In small pot over medium-high heat, add brown sugar and water. Cook to melt sugar and allow to bubble, about 5 minutes. Add pecans; stir 2 minutes. Lay on parchment-lined baking sheet and allow to cool. Once cool, chop into pieces.
- Remove potatoes from oven and sprinkle pecans over top.
Serve Up a Seasonal Treat
No seasonal gathering is complete without dessert, and quality baking during the holidays results in fresh favorites like Apple Pie.
Allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon add spice to this festive favorite while brown sugar adds a hint of caramel sweetness with a nutty, moist, subtle molasses flavor that’s ideal for use in desserts of all kinds. The trusted performance of an option like Domino sugar helps make this a recipe you can turn to when it’s time to savor the season.
Find more holiday dessert ideas to bring your family and friends together at dominosugar.com .
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
- 1 prepared 9-inch double-crust pie pastry, divided
- 3/4 cup Domino Light Brown Sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 2 pounds apples, cored, quartered and sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 9-inch pie pan with half pastry then prick bottom and sides with fork.
- In large saucepot, combine brown sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add apples and toss to coat evenly. Slowly heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and apples begin to soften and cook down to about 6 cups.
- Turn apple mixture into lined pie plate. Top with remaining pastry. Trim and flute edges with fork. Slit top crust to allow steam to escape.
- Bake 35-40 minutes, or until crust is golden.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.
Add Color and Flavor to the Holiday Table
When a holiday celebration calls for a truly memorable meal, it’s a perfect opportunity to serve a dish that just might become a family favorite. Combining a seasonal staple like cranberries with naturally flavorful lamb could be your ticket to a newfound tradition.
These festive Cranberry Maple Glazed Grass-Fed Lamb Chops can brighten up your holiday table with an irresistible pop of red and deliciously pure New Zealand grass-fed lamb. New Zealand is home to some of the world’s most naturally raised beef and lamb, where the animals are allowed to roam and graze freely over lush green hills and pastures, resulting in a beautifully tender meat that tastes just as nature intended.
Visit beefandlambnz.com to learn more and find where to buy grass-fed meat for your holiday meals.
Cranberry Maple Glazed Grass-Fed Lamb Chops
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 cup fresh or thawed cranberries
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- cracked black pepper
- 8-10 New Zealand grass-fed lamb rib chops
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- olive oil
- To make glaze: In small bowl, whisk cranberries, maple syrup, orange juice, orange zest, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- To make lamb chops: Pat lamb chops dry with paper towel.
- In small bowl, whisk brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt and garlic powder.
- Sprinkle dry rub on lamb chops and press mixture into meat.
- In large skillet, heat thin layer olive oil over medium heat until drop of water sizzles in pan. Sear rib chops 2 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature reaches 140 F. Remove chops from pan and set aside.
- Add glaze to pan and cook 3-5 minutes, whisking constantly until reduced by half.
- Drizzle glaze over chops before serving.