Food and Ingredients News

Coffee good for the brain? I ought to be the next Einstein!

Good day, guys and girls. Thanks for rejoining us for this second exploratory post into the top ten brain foods as advised by The Cooking Academy. If you missed the first three choice ingredients in the list, you can find them on yesterday’s post, Foods that are naturally healthy for body, mind and soul, where we marvelled at how ingredients classed as healthy options for the body are also believed to have potent mind-boosting powers, too.

So, in total contrast, let’s start today with number four in the Cooking Academy’s list, and an inclusion that should make me the brightest spark against the night sky if its power is increment by volume, coffee! In fact, I know a few myth-shattering facts about their number four item so I’ll not wax lyrical about coffee here; we’ll save the detail for a future article. Suffice to know that its inclusion in the list, in its purest, served form, is based on its antioxidant qualities and ability to stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia. Ah, “in moderation”, it says. Boooooo!

5. Nuts! Another ingredient utilised positively by both body and mind. Ever feel relaxed when you sniff almonds? That’s because the neurotransmitters therein elevate your mood. Walnuts are a great food if you’re peckish before bedtime as they help with insomnia and many nuts, including the bog-standard peanut, include nutrients that boost mental clarity; the vast majority also contain healthy, natural fats in their oils, prolifically Omega 3.
6. Avocados – a fruit that has long been steered away from by dieters (in error) is good for the blood, believed to help reduce pressure and increase the flow to the brain, improving its function. The healthy fats in avocados are an ideal substitute for saturates in a calorie controlled diet, too.
7. Eggs – another much-maligned product and, whether your looking to lose weight through diet and training or want a sharper mind, eggs fit the bill. The choline therein is associate with the building blocks of memory function whilst the protein and healthy fats are the basis of building and protecting healthy muscle tissue. Boiled or poached eggs will not, as urban myth has it, rocket your cholesterol; even at two a day, the effect of their nutritious content can help balance your body’s relative levels.
8. Whole grain – mm, the jury’s out on this one as far as dieting goes, but I’m totally in favour of it, for reasons other than content. In the context of the brain, they contribute massively to a healthy circulation. Some nutritionists may warn against wholegrain bread as part of a heavy resistance training diet but, for me at least, the benefits the grain give as an intestinal hoover due to their high-fibre content far outweigh the reasons some trainers give for not incorporating it. The grains are also a source of healthy, natural fats you can include in your diet without necessarily having to think to hard about it.
9. Chocolate – okay, here’s the second and final item on the list that you wouldn’t find on a dieter’s main menu, the darker the better, up to the point where it gets too bitter. Above 70% for me and it’s pushing it, but the Cooking Academy’s author prefers 85% cocoa – ugh, that makes me shudder. But, dark/plain chocolate (again in moderation) contains high concentrations of antioxidants and has been proven to target focus – perfect for the freelance writer who may get distracted by World Golf Tour or his e-mail, for instance…time to visit Hotel Chocolat again, methinks. Milk chocolate, surprisingly, has benefits too, cutting down reaction time as well as improving memory function.
10. And finally, Broccoli. One of the great Superfoods and, in my humble opinion, second in the all-time list behind only blueberries. It helps improve memory, is saturated with vitamins, helps reduce the ageing process and also helps improve memory. Mm, quite.

So, thanks to Kumud Ghandi who originally complied this list for The Cooking Academy and I hope you’ve enjoyed my expansion on the original theme, incorporating snippets on the bodily benefits as well as the brain power you’ll now exhibit by incorporating these ingredients into your diet – even if it’s not a healthy one, by inclusion of these natural food stuffs, you may well turn a corner there, too.

Some of the ingredients may not be the easiest to incorporate into the weekly cook/shop – why not check out our hand-picked cookery courses to see if those courses we are rating as offering the best value at your time of reading this (we do acid-test them, so the individual cookery schools we feature often rotate) offer a nutrition/healthy cookery class you can draw upon for inspiration?

Got a comment? We’d love to hear from you.

Cookery Courses News

Italian cookery courses with dietary insight class inclusive

Nothing kick-starts a night of passion and romance like a good Italian meal, accompanied by the appropriate vino of course, but what can you do if you want to avoid the clichéd Spag. Bol. or extend your Italian culinary prowess further than a Lasagne? Perhaps a ‘no experience necessary’ Italian cookery course may be the added extra ingredient that those first date or impress the rellies meals are missing.

The Cooking Academy is hosting just such a cookery class – amongst the myriad of other influences they draw upon to produce their schmorges board of international cuisine – and if learning about the nitty-gritty tomato-based meaty cooking sauces or would love to know how to make fresh pasta (you will never buy shop-bought, again), then this cookery course is perhaps all you’ll need to know about learning to cook Italian, from a standing start, at least.

This particular cookery school doesn’t simply do the “learn to cook Italian” thing, though. One of the passions that will hit you like a sack of tomatoes when you take your Italian cookery lesson with The Cooking Academy is how integral knowledge of the nutritional values of the ingredients is as much a part of the educational process as is how to put them together to make the dishes.

Italian food has earned a reputation of being oily and the average dieter wouldn’t go near a full-blooded Lasagne or Spaghetti Bolognese for fear of the fat and oil content, not to mention the carbs, but these are myths that belong in urban legend. The natural fats are mono- and polyunsaturates, as is that found in olive oil; as part of a calorie controlled diet, this type of nutrition is essential; you will be taught an overview of basic Italian diet, too, and where and how the traditional dishes fit into it.

The cookery courses are a decent six hours, much longer than many one-off cookery classes; as such, a choice of beer and wine (within reason) and fruit juice is provided in the price, as is lunch itself and all of the ingredients you’ll need; a complete recipe pack of what you have learnt, as well as the food you have prepared and cooked, is available as a take away basket once your six hour induction in Italian is complete. The preparation of the dishes is obligatory and is covered before serving the dishes that you will learn so much about, whether you have had experience in any type of cookery, or not. Full details and times are available on The Cooking Academy’s website.

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