Whether you’re returning to studies this September, or simply trying out a fun new evening class, make sure you’re eating the best brain-boosting ingredients for the start of term!
Salmon with black lentils and roasted cauliflower
A simple combination of a pulse, such as black lentils, combined with a roasted vegetable and a protein can be nutritionally satisfying as well as luxurious.
Preparation and cooking time: 50 mins
Per serving: 458kcal, 24.9g fat – 5.4g saturates – 25.4g carbs, 4.3g sugars, 34.4g protein, 12.6g fibre, 0.6g salt
Black lentils 250g, rinsed
Cauliflower florets 450g
Olive oil 3tbsp
Salmon fillets 4 125g each, pin-boned
Lemon 1, juiced
Dijon mustard 2tsp
Freshly ground black pepper
Spring onions 2, sliced
Flat-leaf parsley handful
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with at least 5cm water. Bring to the boil and cook steadily for 5 mins, skimming away any scum. Reduce to a simmer until tender to the bite, about 20-25 mins.
In the meantime, toss the cauliflower with 1tbsp olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste on a rimmed baking tray. Roast until golden-brown, about 30-35 mins.
Drain the lentils when ready. Return to the saucepan, season with a little salt and pepper, and cover with a lid to keep warm.
Arrange the salmon on a roasting tray. Drizzle with 1tbsp olive oil and season.
Roast alongside the cauliflower until firm to the touch and opaque, about 10-12 mins.
Remove the cauliflower and salmon from the oven when ready. Whisk together the remaining 1tbsp olive oil with 1tbsp warm water, the lemon juice, mustard, ¼tsp salt, and 1/8tsp pepper in a small bowl.
Divide the lentils, cauliflower, and salmon between plates. Spoon over the dressing
and garnish with spring onions and parsley before serving.
HEALTH BENEFIT: Your brain consists of about 60 per cent fatty acids, with more than two-thirds of that being DHA. Studies show that essential fatty acids such as DHA improve neurological development in the brain. Luckily, salmon is packed with dietary DHA.
This is a simple supper or brunch that can be assembled with cupboard and fridge essentials. For best results, use the freshest eggs possible and adjust or omit the cayenne pepper as needed.
Preparation and cooking time: 40 mins
Per serving: 216kcal, 14.4g fat – 3.3g saturates – 10.4g carbs, 6.3g sugars, 11.4g protein, 1.6g fibre, 0.4g salt
Olive oil 2tbsp
Large onion 1, finely chopped
Red pepper ½, cored, seeded, and diced
Garlic 3 cloves, finely chopped
Small red chilli 1, finely chopped
Ground cumin 2tsp
Ground coriander 1tsp
Ground cinnamon ¼tsp
Cayenne pepper pinch (optional)
Tinned chopped tomatoes 400g
Small eggs 8
White wine vinegar 2tbsp
Flat-leaf parsley handful, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a sauté pan set over a medium heat until hot.
Add the onion, red pepper, garlic, chilli, and a generous pinch of salt, sweating until soft and golden, about 10 mins.
Stir in the spices, omitting the cayenne if desired, and cook for a further 1-2 mins.
Stir in the tomatoes and 200ml water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer until thickened, stirring frequently.
When ready, season to taste. Cover and keep warm off the heat.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a steady simmer. Crack four eggs into cups and stir the vinegar into the water.
Slide the eggs into the water and poach at a steady simmer, adjusting the heat as needed, until set, about 3 mins. Remove from the water to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain. Repeat for the other eggs.
When ready to serve, reheat the shakshuka if needed.
Divide the mixture between bowls and top with two poached eggs and some chopped parsley.
HEALTH BENEFIT: Tomatoes are one of the easiest and cheapest ways to increase your intake of brain-protecting nutrients lycopene and beta-carotene. These eliminate free radicals that can affect healthy brain function.
Mini polenta quiche with beetroot, chard and kale
This quiche is a twist on the classic version with a lighter filling studded with nutrient-rich kale and chard.
Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour 30 mins
Per serving: 391kcal, 19.0g fat – 3.4g saturates – 45.0g carbs, 4.3g sugars, 12.6g protein, 5.9g fibre, 0.5g salt
For the pastry:
Wholemeal flour 225g plus extra
Fine polenta 90g
Olive oil 7tbsp
For the filling:
Baby beetroot 12, scrubbed
Medium eggs 6
Unsweetened almond milk 150ml
Curly kale 150g, thick stems removed, leaves chopped
Chard 100g, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
For the pastry: Blitz the flour, polenta, and salt in a food processor. Add the olive oil and about 3tbsp cold water, pulsing until a dough forms; you may need to add a little more water to bring it together.
Turn out, gather into a ball, and divide into six. Working one by one, roll out into ½cm thick rounds and use to line the base and sides of mini quiche or tartlet tins; trim away any excess overhanging pastry.
Prick the bases all over with a fork and chill until ready to fill.
For the filling: Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
Parboil the beetroot in a saucepan of salted, boiling water until tender to the tip of a knife, about 20 mins. Drain when ready and refresh in iced water. Drain again, pat dry, and cut in half.
Whisk together the eggs and milk in a mixing bowl with ½tsp salt and ¼tsp black pepper.
Transfer the lined quiche tins to a rimmed baking tray. Ladle the egg mixture into the pastry and arrange the beetroot, kale, and chard in them.
Bake until the pastry is cooked through and the filling is set and golden brown on top, about 30 mins.
Remove from the oven and let cool briefly before serving.
HEALTH BENEFIT: Eggs are one of the most complete foods you can eat. They contain high levels of vitamin B12, an essential vitamin also known as choline. A 2013 comparative study in the British Journal of Nutrition linked higher intakes of dietary choline to better memory skills.
This version of a cheesecake is lightened by using whipped egg whites and flavoured with naturally sweet blueberries.
Preparation and cooking time: 2 hours 45 mins. Chilling time: 8 hours
Per serving: 257 kcal, 15.5g fat – 6.9g saturates – 17.4g carbs, 6.9g sugars, 12.8g protein, 7.0g fibre, 0.2g salt
For the base:
Almond flour 200g
Raw coconut oil 60g, melted
Granulated stevia 2tbsp
Vanilla extract 1tsp
For the filling:
Large egg whites 6
Large egg yolks 3
Granulated stevia 100g
Vanilla extract 1½tsp
Lemon juice 1tsp
Extra-light cream cheese 675g, at room temperature
For the base: Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Stir together all the ingredients for the base in a bowl until combined. Pack the mixture into a 20cm springform cake tin, smoothing flat with the back of a tablespoon.
Bake until golden and dry to touch, about 15 mins. Remove to a rack to cool. Increase the oven to 200C/gas 6.
Beat together the egg whites and salt until stiffly peaked. Set aside.
Beat together the egg yolks, stevia, vanilla extract, and lemon juice in a separate mixing bowl until pale and thick, about 2-3 mins. Beat in the cream cheese in three additions until fully incorporated.
Fold in the egg whites in three or four additions until fully incorporated. Spoon the mixture into the tin, gently rapping the tin to help it settle.
Bake for 10 mins before reducing the oven to 150C/gas 2 and baking until set on top, about 40-50 mins. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for 1 hour.
Remove to a wire rack and let cool before covering and chilling overnight.
To serve: The next day, carefully turn out the cheesecake. Purée half the blueberries in a food processor and spread on top of the cheesecake.
Decorate with the remaining blueberries before slicing and serving.
HEALTH BENEFIT: Blueberries have long been prized as an antioxidant-laden
superfood, which help mop up oxidative stress to keep your brain in good shape.
Leg of lamb in sage butter with walnuts
This impressive dish is surprisingly easy to get from kitchen to dinner table; just 15 minutes of prep and it’s in the oven. Pair with some roasted root veg for a complete meal.
Preparation and cooking time: 2 hours
Per serving: 423kcal, 22.7g fat – 9.0g saturates – 3.1g carbs, 0.6g sugars, 50.5g protein, 1.7g fibre, 0.4g salt
Leg of lamb 1.5kg, on the bone, trimmed
Raw coconut butter 3tbsp
Garlic 3 cloves, roughly chopped
Sage leaves 50g
Salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Pat the lamb dry with kitchen paper and season well. Place in a roasting tray.
Combine the coconut butter, garlic, two-thirds of the sage leaves, and the walnuts in a food processor. Pulse the ingredients until
just loosely broken up.
Smear the mixture onto the lamb and scatter the remaining sage leaves over the top.
Roast until golden brown, basting from time to time, until the thickest part registers at least 60C/140F on a meat thermometer (about 1 hour 15-30 mins).
Remove the lamb from the oven and cover loosely with aluminium foil, letting it rest for at least 10-15 mins before carving.