With the busyness of the holidays, we may have days when we didn’t feel like we were ‘on our game.’By making smart food choices we can increase our precious gray matter and improve brain function. Here are some brainy choices for keeping our noggins in tip-top shape.
Blueberries have been shown to shield the brain from stress, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.Research has also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills.
Avocados, though considered a ‘fatty fruit,’ contribute to healthy blood flow and decreased blood pressure, lessening the chances of developing hypertension, which can lead to a stroke.
Deep-water fish, such as salmon is a wise, freshwater fish choice. It’s abundant in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for healthy brain function.
Nuts and seeds are good sources of vitamin E, an important vitamin needed by your brain to stave off declining cognitive functions. Cashews, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower and sesame seeds and almonds are all great choices.
Whole-grain breads, brown rice, and oatmeal also contribute to a healthy brain by reducing the risk for cardiac disease. By promoting a healthy heart and improved blood flow, the brain is sure to thrive via excellent oxygen and nutrient delivery through the bloodstream. Complex carbohydrates also supply the brain with a steady stream of glucose that enhances brain function. It’s important to avoid simple carbohydrates often found in junk food because the glucose gives the brain a short-lived sugar high, often followed by a crash that makes you feel hungry and tired.
Freshly brewed tea also has potent antioxidants, especially the class known as catechins, which also promotes healthy blood flow. Since black teas do contain caffeine it’s important to use it sensibly.
Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidant properties, contains several natural stimulants, which enhance focus and concentration, and encourages the production of endorphins, which helps improve mood. Again, moderation is the key.
At Cook’s Fresh Market we incorporate these ingredients into many of our made fresh daily meals. Check out our menus. Stop in and eat well!
Here at Cook’s Fresh Market we pride ourselves on the fact that our trained culinary team of chefs and cooks make many of our prepared foods, including items like our aioli sauces and our spreads and dressings but a balsamic vinaigrette dressing is not some closely guarded secret made mysterious by a celebrity or gourmet chef. A good tasting vinaigrette is easy to make, and healthy for you. Oil and vinegar salad dressings or vinaigrette recipes can be made by those who have not attended a culinary institute.
Times have sure changed since Seven Sea’s Italian Dressing and Wishbone’s Green Goddess sat on every store shelf as salad dressing staples. Remember when we thought “Original Ranch” was a vast improvement for our salad dressing repertoire, and store bought bacon bits were a hit? Then packaged spring mixed greens became available, and pine nuts were considered healthy and… just a moment; you still buy bottled salad dressings?
Our quest for “lighter fare” and “healthy greens” in our diet, has led us down a daunting path, searching for that elusive ‘healthy salad dressing.’ Low carbs, low cholesterol, and “healthy for all that ails you,” has become a must. So what is it, that we should, (or better yet) ‘are allowed’ to put on top of our salad that’s good for you?
Today we walk down the salad dressing aisle in a gourmet food store and behold the gourmet condiments from floor to eye level. Organic spreads, sauces, and accoutrements. Wine vinegars, infused oils, and herb flavored vinaigrettes. Some endorsed by celebrities. Some seen on TV. Some made by celebrities, (yeah, right). Some made on a distant island, in some strange sounding place. (We move on a step further.) We shake our head at Modena consortium, imported Spanish, and California Napa Balsamic vinegars. A huge question mark appears over our heads as we gaze at Aceto, Traditional, aged, and Special Blends. We mutter, “What hath God Wrought?” Inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, couldn’t have verbalized our incredulous thoughts more accurately.
A simple oil and vinegar salad dressing, why is the degree of difficulty exponential? It needn’t be. A simple vinaigrette dressing recipe can be made easily, from simple ingredients, be healthy for you, and actually taste great.
The key ingredients in a vinaigrette dressing, is a traditional aged balsamic vinegar, and an excellent olive oil. You don’t have to spend a fortune for the balsamic either. We have some excellent choices in our market.
Your balsamic vinaigrette dressing will go great with other dishes besides a salad, too. A balsamic vinaigrette is outstanding with fresh lobster and scallops, artichokes and asparagus. A balsamic dressing also goes well with fresh sliced tomatoes or steamed vegetables and greens.
A balsamic dressing recipe can be altered to your individual taste. The normal proportions for a balsamic vinaigrette dressing are one part balsamic vinegar to three parts olive oil, with seasoning of salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. A rule of thumb is one teaspoonful of mustard for every half cup of salad dressing. The flavor of balsamic vinegar is rich and intense, and with a delicate olive oil you may want to use proportions of one part vinegar to four or five of olive oil. Other herbs and spices will enhance a balsamic vinaigrette, such as chives and sage. Even a bit of finely grated fresh ginger root will add zest to your dressing. It is all a question of how you want your finished dressing to taste.
Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing Recipe (that you can make yourself)
3 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed through a garlic press
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Use a blender to mix the ingredients. It will produce a thicker vinaigrette dressing. One serving will equal 2 to 3 tablespoons of dressing. One cup should easily be enough for 6 to 8 servings of mixed green salad. Refrigerate and store in a covered container. Whisk well before serving.
Here at Denver’s well-loved Cook’s Fresh Market, we proudly offer Boar’s Head Brand artisan meats and cheeses. Whether you are looking for a quality catering experience or ordering a sandwich from our lunch menu, the Boar’s Head products we serve will be sure to please and satisfy you, and your family and friends.
Why have we chosen to carry Boar’s Head meats and cheeses? Well, because the Boar’s Head company has been around for 110 years, and as their mission says, they are “recognized as leaders who provide exceptional customer service and superior quality delicatessen products.” The Boar’s Head Brand was founded by Frank Brunckhorst in the New York City area, in 1905, and has been a family-owned company for five generations. They are known to be “skilled artisans in meats” and “master craftsmen in cheese preparation methods.” At Boar’s Head, the standards of quality have always been stupendously high and the same is true for us here at Cook’s Fresh Market.
Almost every type of meat is “hand-trimmed” to assure the leanest cuts, and most items are both gluten and dairy free. Additionally, for our dear customers who are very concerned about the processing of deli meats, we offer some Boar’s Head “All Natural” meats. The All Natural meats contain no MSG, and no nitrites or nitrates (other than those naturally occurring in sea salt), and are beyond delicious even to the most discriminating palate. And if cheeses are your thing, then you can strike gold once again with our Boar’s Head Brand offerings.