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Nutrition

Diet modifications – including more wine and cheese – may help reduce cognitive decline

The foods we eat may have a direct impact on our cognitive acuity in our later years.

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Photo by Dylan Reuter from Unsplash.com

The foods we eat may have a direct impact on our cognitive acuity in our later years. This is the key finding of an Iowa State University research study spotlighted in an article published in the November 2020 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The study was spearheaded by principal investigator, Auriel Willette, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Brandon Klinedinst, a Neuroscience PhD candidate working in the Food Science and Human Nutrition department at Iowa State. The study is a first-of-its-kind large scale analysis that connects specific foods to later-in-life cognitive acuity.

Willette, Klinedinst and their team analyzed data collected from 1,787 aging adults (from 46 to 77 years of age, at the completion of the study) in the United Kingdom through the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource containing in-depth genetic and health information from half-a-million UK participants. The database is globally accessible to approved researchers undertaking vital research into the world’s most common and life-threatening diseases.

Participants completed a Fluid Intelligence Test (FIT) as part of touchscreen questionnaire at baseline (compiled between 2006 and 2010) and then in two follow-up assessments (conducted from 2012 through 2013 and again between 2015 and 2016). The FIT analysis provides an in-time snapshot of an individual’s ability to “think on the fly.”

Participants also answered questions about their food and alcohol consumption at baseline and through two follow-up assessments. The Food Frequency Questionnaire asked participants about their intake of fresh fruit, dried fruit, raw vegetables and salad, cooked vegetables, oily fish, lean fish, processed meat, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, cheese, bread, cereal, tea and coffee, beer and cider, red wine, white wine and champaign and liquor.

Here are four of the most significant findings from the study:

  1. Cheese, by far, was shown to be the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems, even late into life;
  2. The daily consumption of alchohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function;
  3. Weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess; and
  4. Excessive consumption of salt is bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease may need to watch their intake to avoid cognitive problems over time.

“I was pleasantly surprised that our results suggest that responsibly eating cheese and drinking red wine daily are not just good for helping us cope with our current COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps also dealing with an increasingly complex world that never seems to slow down,” Willette said. “While we took into account whether this was just due to what well-off people eat and drink, randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if making easy changes in our diet could help our brains in significant ways.”

Klinedinst added, “Depending on the genetic factors you carry, some individuals seem to be more protected from the effects of Alzheimers, while other seem to be at greater risk. That said, I believe the right food choices can prevent the disease and cognitive decline altogether. Perhaps the silver bullet we’re looking for is upgrading how we eat. Knowing what that entails contributes to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s and putting this disease in a reverse trajectory.”

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Nutrition

Dish up protein-packed sweet treats

Choosing health shouldn’t mean restricting yourself; everyone deserves a treat now and again.

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In a world of packed schedules and boring food, it can feel like doing the healthy thing means giving up some of what makes you happy – like treats and flavors you love. Choosing health shouldn’t mean restricting yourself; everyone deserves a treat now and again.

Try incorporating better-for-you ingredients into your favorite indulgences. Look for convenient, ready-to-use products, like Premier Protein High Protein Shakes, to help infuse the nutrition you need with the joy you deserve. With 30 grams of protein, 160 calories and 1 gram of sugar, the shakes make it easy to take the first step and keep that momentum going, adding nutrient-dense protein to nearly any recipe.

In addition to a smooth, creamy texture, each shake delivers 24 vitamins and minerals including vitamins C and E, which help support a healthy immune system as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. With 11 flavors – including strawberries & cream and chocolate – there’s an impossibly indulgent option for everyone to make a healthy life a happy endeavor through recipes like Peanut Butter Jelly Ice Cream and Chocolate Ice Cream with “Caramel” Sauce.

Find more information and recipes at PremierProtein.com or on Instagram.

Peanut Butter Jelly Ice Cream
Servings: 12

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Premier Protein Strawberries & Cream Protein Shake
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar-free strawberry jelly

In large, heavy saucepan, heat milk, protein shake, brown sugar and salt until bubbles form around sides of pan. Whisk small amount of hot mixture into egg. Return to pan, whisking constantly.

Cook and stir over low heat until mixture thickens and coats back of spoon. Remove from heat; whisk in peanut butter. Quickly transfer to bowl; place in ice water and stir 2 minutes. Stir in cream and vanilla. Press wax paper onto surface of custard. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer 2/3 full; freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

When ice cream is frozen, spoon into freezer container, layering with jelly; freeze 2-4 hours before serving.

Nutritional information per serving: 271 calories; 23 g total fat; 11 g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat; 72 mg cholesterol; 205 mg sodium; 13 g total carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 8 g total sugars; 6 g protein.

Chocolate Ice Cream with “Caramel” Sauce
Recipe courtesy of “Chelsea’s Messy Apron”
Servings: 8

1 large sweet potato
1 bag (10 ounces) dark chocolate chips, plus additional for topping (optional)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup coconut sugar
Premier Protein Chocolate Protein Shake

“Caramel” Sauce:
3 tablespoons coconut oil (measured when solid)
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons almond butter
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Wash and scrub sweet potato. Pierce with fork several times. Place on microwave-safe plate and microwave 5 minutes; flip and microwave 5 minutes. Allow to cool.

In microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips in 20-second increments, stirring between each increment until smooth and melted. Set aside.

Remove sweet potato skin and thoroughly mash. Pack into 3/4 cup measuring cup. Place in large blender.

Add melted chocolate to blender along with vanilla, sea salt, coconut sugar and chocolate protein shake.

Place lid on blender and blend on high at least 1 minute, or until ingredients are smooth and incorporated.

Transfer to ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturer’s directions then transfer to airtight container and freeze 2-3 hours.

To make “caramel” sauce: In microwave-safe bowl, microwave coconut oil and syrup 30 seconds. Stir and microwave 30 seconds, or until melted and smooth. Stir in almond butter and whisk until smooth. Add sea salt and vanilla extract; whisk to combine.

Set “caramel” sauce aside at room temperature about 30 minutes. Top ice cream with sauce and additional chocolate chips, if desired.

Nutritional information per serving: 346 calories; 18 g total fat; 11 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 219 mg sodium; 40 g total carbohydrates; 4 g dietary fiber; 31 g total sugars; 7 g protein.

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Nutrition

Celebrate spring with brunch favorites

From sweet to savory and back again, you can turn your mid-morning meal into a full-blown feast with a menu made up of pleasing dishes.

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Few things go together quite like fresh spring air, warm sunshine and a menu made up of delicious brunch bites. Whether you’re hosting a crowd or simply gathering your loved ones around the family table for quality time together, a menu of morning favorites can appease appetites of all kinds.

From sweet to savory and back again, you can turn your mid-morning meal into a full-blown feast with a menu made up of pleasing dishes such as this French Toast Casserole, which can serve as a make-ahead twist on the breakfast classic; customizable Breakfast Burritos that pack a protein punch; and a bite-sized treat like Double Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins for a sweet finishing touch to any brunch occasion.

Find more recipes to inspire your next brunch menu at Culinary.net.

Warm Up with a Fresh Casserole

An exciting twist on a breakfast classic, it’s hard to beat this French Toast Casserole when putting together your brunch spread. Crisp on top while soft and moist in the middle, it comes fresh out of the oven with the aroma of maple syrup and pecans that will have the whole house eager for a bite. It’s easy enough to make fresh in the morning but can also be prepared the night before so all you have to do is add the topping and pop it in the oven.

French Toast Casserole

1          loaf French bread (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
5          large eggs
1 1/2    cups unsweetened milk
2          tablespoons brown sugar
2          teaspoons vanilla extract
1          teaspoon cinnamon
1/4       teaspoon nutmeg
1/4       teaspoon sea salt
            maple syrup, for serving

Topping:
2          tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted
2          tablespoons brown sugar
1/2       cup chopped pecans
1          cup frozen strawberries
1          cup frozen blueberries
            confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Grease 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place bread cubes in baking dish. In large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour mixture evenly over bread cubes.

If making casserole ahead, cover baking dish and refrigerate overnight. If baking immediately, let stand 30 minutes at room temperature to allow bread to soak up egg mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

To make topping: Drizzle casserole with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans. Top with strawberries and blueberries.

Cover and bake 35 minutes then uncover and bake 10-20 minutes, or until topping is browned and egg mixture has mostly set.

Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with maple syrup.

Brunch with a Powerful Punch

When you’re craving something hearty and rich, switch up your brunch habits with wholesome and filling Breakfast Burritos. With protein to keep you full, veggies for a touch of added nutrition and hot sauce to pack a powerful punch of flavor in every bite, this hearty recipe will keep you full and bursting with energy until your next meal. Plus, they’re easy to make in a matter of minutes and totally customizable to accommodate every palate.

Breakfast Burritos
Servings: 4

2          teaspoons canola oil
1          small red onion, diced
1          red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1          can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4       teaspoon red pepper flakes
            salt, to taste
            pepper, to taste
4          eggs
4          egg whites
1/2       cup shredded pepper jack cheese
            nonstick cooking spray
4          flour tortillas
1/4       cup sour cream
1/4       cup salsa
1          large tomato, seeded and diced
1          avocado, sliced
            hot sauce (optional)

In large skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add red onion and red bell pepper; cook 8 minutes. Add black beans and red pepper flakes; cook 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to dish.

In medium bowl, whisk eggs and egg whites. Stir in cheese until combined. Heat large skillet over low heat, add egg mixture and scramble 3 minutes, or until cooked through.

Spread sour cream over tortilla. Spread salsa over sour cream. Spoon 1/4 bean mixture over salsa. Spoon 1/4 scrambled eggs over bean mixture. Top with diced tomatoes and avocado. Drizzle with hot sauce, if desired. Roll-up burrito. Repeat three times with remaining ingredients and serve.

Bite-Sized Chocolate Delights

Flavorful French toast, filling breakfast burritos and favorite fruits make a feast to look forward to, but no brunch spread is complete without a chocolatey bite to cap off the meal. In fact, make it a double.

These Double Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins offer a combination of two kinds of rich chocolate complemented by the caramel notes of C&H Light Brown Sugar for an irresistible dessert in bite-sized form. Tiny, tasty treats are a perfect way to send guests off with one sweet final bite.

Visit chsugar.com to find more delectable dessert recipes.

Double Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Muffin Batter:
2          cups all-purpose flour
1/2       cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1          teaspoon baking soda
1/2       teaspoon salt
1          package (10 ounces) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2          large eggs
1/2       cup C&H Light Brown Sugar, packed
1/2       cup C&H Granulated Sugar
3/4       cup sour cream
1/2       cup vegetable oil
1/2       cup whole milk
1/2       teaspoon instant espresso (optional)
2          teaspoons vanilla extract
2          tablespoons flaked sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line mini muffin pan with mini cupcake liners.

In large mixing bowl, use whisk to combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add chocolate chips and stir to ensure chocolate chips are coated in flour mixture.

In separate large mixing bowl, use wire whisk to whisk eggs and sugars until ingredients are combined and sugars are dissolved. Add sour cream, oil and milk. Whisk again to combine. If using espresso powder, add to vanilla then add to wet ingredients. Whisk vanilla espresso mixture into other liquid ingredients.

Pour liquid ingredients on top of dry ingredients. Using rubber spatula, mix until just combined, being careful to not overmix. Batter should be thick and shiny.

Using tablespoon or two spoons, spoon muffin batter into liners. Batter should be filled almost to top of each liner. Top each muffin with flaked sea salt before baking, if desired.

Bake muffins on center rack 6 minutes. Rotate pan and bake 6 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean. Once muffins finish baking, place muffin pan on cooling rack to cool completely.

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Nutrition

Unite loved ones with a luscious dessert, Tart Cherry Unity Pie

By bringing some of the most popular pie flavors together, the Tart Cherry Unity Pie offers the familiar, distinct sweet-tart flavor of Montmorency tart cherries that pair well with pecans, apple and pumpkin pie spice for a sense of nostalgia representative of family, tradition and celebration.

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Celebration-worthy treats are perfect ways to cap off days spent with those you love, whether there’s a special occasion or you’re simply looking for creative ways to share more moments together. As a beloved staple in households for generations, pie provides a sweet, delicious way to bring family and friends to the table.

By bringing some of the most popular pie flavors together, the Tart Cherry Unity Pie offers the familiar, distinct sweet-tart flavor of Montmorency tart cherries that pair well with pecans, apple and pumpkin pie spice for a sense of nostalgia representative of family, tradition and celebration.

In this unique recipe, the bold and vibrant flavors of tart cherries take center stage, complemented by the subtle sweetness of apples and crunch of pecans. With their burst of brightness and acidity, tart cherries perfectly balance the other flavors to create a pie fit for any occasion.

U.S.-grown tart cherries are a particularly versatile ingredient that makes them an ideal partner for other beloved ingredients and flavors. In fact, as the demand for sour, less sweet food and beverages continues to gain momentum, they provide a multi-faceted, sweet-tart profile for favorite foods and drinks. While tart cherries are increasingly featured in a wide array of recipes, they remain a favorite ingredient in confectionary items and baked goods like pies.

Slow down your fast-paced world and savor a slice of this timeless dessert alongside loved ones for a moment of respite. With its sweet and tangy filling, flaky crust and tart cherry topping, you can indulge in life’s simple pleasures for a sense of coziness and comfort.

Visit ChooseCherries.com to find more celebration-worthy tart cherry desserts.

Tart Cherry Unity Pie
Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Tart Cherry Industry
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes
Servings: 8

Pie:
1 pie crust (9 inches)
2 cups canned tart cherry pie filling
2 cups canned apple pie filling
1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1 pinch salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Fit pie crust to 9-inch pie dish. Crimp edges and use fork to poke holes in bottom. Place pie crust in freezer to chill.

In large bowl, combine tart cherry pie filling and apple pie filling. Set aside.

To make streusel: In bowl, use fork to mix flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, pecans and salt. Pour butter over dry ingredients and mix until ingredients come together in clumps.

To assemble pie: Pour cherry-apple filling into prepared pie crust and sprinkle streusel on top. Brush beaten egg onto exposed pie crust edges.

Bake 25 minutes. At 10-minute mark, cover pie dish with foil to prevent crust from over-browning. After 25 minutes, lower oven temperature to 375 F and bake 30 minutes.

To make pumpkin spice whipped cream: In large bowl or bowl of stand mixer, add heavy cream, powdered sugar and pumpkin spice. Use hand mixer or beater attachment on stand mixer to beat on medium-high speed 3-5 minutes until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate whipped cream until ready to serve.

Let pie cool 2-3 hours then dollop pumpkin spice whipped cream on top, slice and serve.

Substitution: Storebought whipped cream topped with pumpkin spice can be used in place of homemade pumpkin spice whipped cream.

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