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VOL. 37 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 22, 2013

Eat your way to better memory

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I have two great and very easy recipes to share with you this week, a main dish, one-pot entrée and a dessert.

The dessert comes from Karen Brown, who’s on the Arkansas Newspaper Foundation Board. She shared this candy during the Board’s last meeting, and Jay, our managing editor, loved it.

I have made a candy similar to this using graham crackers, so I’m anxious to try it with saltines.

I’ve been reading much lately about brain food. Not so much to make me smarter (I really don’t think I can be helped with that particular issue at this time in life), but more on foods that will boost my memory and delay the effects from diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

We all try to be good at squeezing in moderate exercise for our bodies and eating the right things for our heart health, but how many of us think about our future brain health? There are some things we can eat to boost our memory in our golden years.

Tex-Mex Shells and Cheese

1 lb. of lean ground beef
1 (12 oz.) box of Velveeta Shells & Cheese
1 14 1/24 oz. can of diced Ro-tel tomatoes, undrained
1 1/4 cups of water
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Black olives, sliced

Brown the meat in a nonstick skillet and then drain. Stir in the shells, tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil and then cover. Simmer on medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Add the cheese sauce and then stir until blended. Top with shredded cheese. Garnish with olives. Serve with a leafy green side salad.

Tut’s Toffee (Poor Man’s Toffee)

1 tube of saltine crackers
2 sticks of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
12 oz. of chocolate chips, semi-sweet
1/2 to 1 cup of chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 10x15 inch pan with Pam, or line the pan with foil. Place the saltines in the bottom of the pan. (Five rows of seven crackers works great!)  Mix the sugar and butter, and then microwave them on high for three or four minutes. Stir the mix well and carefully pour it over the crackers. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes. It will be bubbly and a nice golden brown. Remove from the oven and cover with chips. Smooth chips when melted. Sprinkle on nuts. Chill for one hour. Break into pieces.

Here’s a list of some of the foods that boost our memory:

  • Unsaturated fatty acids. These healthy fats can help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and are found in foods like olive and sesame oil, avocados, peanuts, walnuts and pecans.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help protect your brain from dementia and improve your memory. They’re found in fatty fish that swim in cold water, including trout, mackerel and salmon.
  • Brightly colored fruits and dark berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries) help keep blood vessels in the brain clear and protect brain cells from damage. Blueberries have been shown to actually reverse age-related memory shortfalls. Oranges, cherries, plums and red grapes also are great memory foods.
  • Leafy, green vegetables also protect the brain from damage and failing memory. This includes broccoli, spinach, kale, sprouts, bell peppers and asparagus. Eggplant, corn and even onions are also good memory-food veggies.
  • Vitamins E, C, B12 and folic acid all improve memory. A diet rich in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes, can provide you with plenty of vitamins for a good memory boost.
  • Our bodies also need glucose for energy, and studies have shown that a little bit of natural sugar can help boost memory and cognitive function.

Eating a variety of whole-wheat breads, pastas and brown rice will give your brain energy to improve memory and maintain heart health.

To make it simple, keep a variety of fresh fruits on hand to nibble on, and always eat plenty of fresh salads. Lastly, if you don’t take a multi-vitamin daily, now is a good time to start.