02 September 2015
Ingredients (serves 2):
• 250g of roasted vegetables (eg. potatoes, carrots, parsnip, onions)
• 150g of mackerel (tinned or fresh) – other fish works too
• 4 tbsp of ground flaxseeds
• 2 tbsp of ground chia seeds (chia and flaxseeds can be ground together)
• 1 medium sized egg
• 1 tsp of Dijon mustard (English mustard works fine too, but use slightly less as it is hotter)
• 2 shallots (finely chopped - only add if there are no onions in your roast vegetables)
• Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
• Honey & mustard sauce (just mix one tbsp of mustard, 1 tsp of honey)
• Capers to garnish (you can add a table spoon to the fish mix if you like, it is quite delicious)
Mushy peas with mint
• 200-300 g of fresh peas
• 1-2 handful of fresh mint
• 1-2 tbsp of ghee or butter
• Himalayan salt & pepper
Kale Salad with lemon dressing
• 350 g of green and red kale (washed and torn into smaller pieces)
• Juice of half a lemon
• 2 tbsp of cold pressed olive oil
• 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar
• 1/2 tsp of Dijon or English mustard
• 1/2 tsp of honey
• Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
1. Mash roast vegetables, add shallots, salt, pepper, beaten egg and mix well. Then add the fish, this is best done in flaking it on top of the mashed ingredients and then carefully folding the fish into the mix (at this point fold in the capers if you are adding them)
2. Pre-heat the oven at 160c and lay out parchment paper on a roasting tray. Place the ground chia and linseed on a plate - season with salt and pepper. Use a large spoon to divide the mix and make equally sized balls, then one by one flatten with the palm of your hand and coat with the chia and flaxseed mix before placing them on the baking tray. Do this very carefully as the fishcakes are quite fragile at this point. Bake for 30-45 minutes. Garnish the fishcakes with honey & mustard sauce and capers.
3. A few minutes before the cakes are done, put the fresh peas in boiling water, simmer for 2-3 minutes and drain well. Add ghee or butter to the peas, salt & pepper and blend using a hand blender. You can also just mash them manually. Finely chop mint and fold under the mash and serve hot together with the fishcakes.
4. Prepare the kale salad by just adding the dressing to the washed and dried leaves, best to mix in a glass bowl. Massaging the dressing in well and leave until the fishcakes are ready to be served.
Recipe and images courtesy of Diana Warrings, www.irmagreen.com
11 August 2015
At Food for the Brain we are not against medication and we hope to see a successful drug discovered for health conditions, such as dementia, just like anybody else. It saddens us however to regularly see one-sided news reporting. In terms of disease modifying treatments for dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease, almost all new drug discoveries are hyped-up to be much more effective actually then they in reality are. On the other hand, a number of much more significant studies on the effects of some dietary modification or certain specific supplements on dementia/Alzheimer’s are simply ignored or mis-reported in the mainstream media. The growing emotional and financial cost of dementia (including Alzheimer’s) is so high that we cannot afford to choose sides – there is only one side and that is evidence.
In this case it is the confusing messages sent by the Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK). For instance a paper published in 2012 reported that B vitamins given to those with pre-dementia (mild cognitive impairment) dramatically reduces shrinkage of the Alzheimer’s brain areas and reduces further memory loss – so therefore B vitamins represent a disease modifying treatment. This study was part-funded by ARUK, however, last week we are told by ARUK’s Eric Kerran that a new drug, solanezumab is the ‘first disease modifying treatment’! (as reported on www.bbc.co.uk).
If we were to compare B vitamins with solanezumab (designed to clear out amyloid protein from the brain that can build up and contribute to dementia) the effect of solanezumab is very small in comparison to that reported with B vitamins, which mostly work through its effect on lowering homocysteine levels.
In this new drug solanezumab there’s no change in rate of brain shrinkage, which is critical if the drug is going to modify the disease process - not just marginally slow it down. There are also only very minor improvements in memory. Nevertheless, the press coverage reported a different story, “First treatment to slow Alzheimer’s disease unveiled in landmark breakthrough,” in the Telegraph and Newsweek’s title was “New drug shows promise for early-stage Alzheimer’s”, “Hugely significant…first drug actually slowing down the course of the disease …verge of a radical breakthrough.” commented another ARUK spokesman (for the full story: Policy on Alzheimer’s: sure we want a cure, just so long as it’s not cheap click here).
Considering the positive headlines, it surely creates a view that the whole scientific community agrees with the positive media’s stance, however, the press stories were printed even before the study on solanezumab itself was published! Detailed analyses of the complex results of this study by other specialists in the field have since emerged, reporting what actually happened. Margaret McCartney, writing for the British Medical Journal wrote that in one memory test, those on the drug, out of a possible score of 30, scored 1 point higher than those on a placebo. In the other two tests used the difference was also very small. In contrast, there was a virtual cessation of any further memory loss in the B vitamin study over 2 years.
Also, on a very important measure - the Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR), there was no change between Solanezumab and the placebo, which is bad news because it means no-one, actually got better. To give another comparison, the difference between the placebo group (28%) and the B vitamin group (58%) reverting to zero on the CRD was 30%. In other words B vitamin treatment doubled the proportion of people reverting to zero on the CDR according to Dr Celeste de Jager. In the drug study there is no difference between drug and placebo.
The best memory test results for the drug, the MMSE and ADAS-Cog tests, showed a 34% slowing down of decline in scores compared to those on placebo over 18 months. In the B vitamin trial, those starting with high homocysteine had a complete prevention of any further decline in episodic memory and in semantic memory over 2 years.
But perhaps the biggest difference was between the rates of brain shrinkage. Solanezumab treatments resulted in a non-significant 2% reduced rate of brain shrinkage compared to the placebo. In contrast, in the B vitamin study there was an average 30% reduction in the rate of brain shrinkage, which went up to 53% in those with raised homocysteine and 73% in those starting with good omega-3 levels that were supplemented B vitamins, compared to placebo.
Beyond the particular outcome of the solanezumab study, more and more research is indicating that amyloid plaques are not in-fact a cause in Dementia but an effect (leading to more damage).
The brain produces more amyloid protein as a response to a number of neurological conditions. This may be the results of (at least in part) poor methylation (homocysteine levels reflect poor methylation and B vitamins can effectively reduce homocysteine). The solanezumab drug reduces amyloid protein, but if fails to address the cause. A recent study conducted at the University of California has shown that omega-3 supplementation also helps the body get rid of amyloid protein and probably even more effectively together with vitamin D. So omega-3 (and possible more effective with vitamin D) can possibly do what the drug does but without the side-effects, and B vitamins help to reduce the formation of amyloid protein to start off with. Looking at it from this point of view, we already cover three disease modifiable factors, B vitamins, vitamin D and omega-3, albeit there are likely only effective in individuals with low levels.
Considering all this, and that omega-3 and B vitamins to reduce homocysteine levels have with minor-no side effects and solanezumab (a monoclonal antibody drugs which has to be given by injection every few weeks) is associated with haemorrhage (which occurred in a small percentage of people on this study), we find it odd that news, even from respected organisations such as ARUK, can be so unbalanced in favour of drugs. Again we are not against medication but the growing emotional and financial cost of dementias is so high that we cannot afford to choose one over the other, and neither should we have to. In an ideal world solanezumab would have been tested also in conjunction with omega-3, B vitamins, and vitamin D to learn what the best possible outcome is.
One option for now is to try Food for the Brain’s validated free online Cognitive Function Test (only takes around 15 minutes) which also works out your preventable risk factors and gives you a personalised report of key changes to reduce your risk of dementia.
06 July 2015
Ingredients (makes 12)
- 100g of buckwheat flour
- 75g of oat flour (simply grind oats in an electric coffee grinder)
- 50g of ground almonds
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp maple syrup or 2 tbsp barley syrup
- 40g of coconut oil
- 130-150ml organic rice, almond or cashew milk
- 1 egg beaten for brushing
Strawberry chia jam
- 400g of fresh British strawberries
- 2-3 tbsp of maple syrup
- 2-3 tbsp of chia seeds
- small bunch of mint leaves (optional)
Cashew vanilla cream
- 200g cashew nuts (also works with peeled almonds)
- 1/2 vanilla pod
- 2-4 tbsp of rice or cashew milk
Alternative to cashew vanilla cream
- 200g of organic plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 vanilla pod (content only)
- 1 tbsp of maple syrup
1. The scones are also super easy and quickly done; you don’t even need a mixer. First mix the maple syrup with the milk and set aside. Next, sift the flours, salt and the baking powder into a bowl and add the coconut oil and rub quickly into the flour, creating a fine breadcrumb like consistency.
2. Now start adding a little milk and work it into the flour mix, keep adding a little at a time working into smooth dough. Buckwheat flour is very dense so you don’t want to over knead the dough otherwise the scones turn out quite heavy. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and leave the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes. If you like scones with raisins you would need to add them to the dry mix first and then add the milk. Whilst the dough is having a rest, you can prepare a baking tray, lining it with baking paper.
3. Once the dough is rested, pre-heat the oven at 220C; roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it is approximately 2cm thick. Now cut the dough with a pastry cutter and lay out on the prepared baking tray. Finally beat the egg and brush the scones to give a shiny glaze and bake for 12-15 minutes.
4. The cashew cream is really simple to make, just place the cashew nuts and vanilla pod in a food strong food processor and blend until smooth. The blending process will take some time, so please be patient. Pour the cream into a jar with a lid and refrigerate, it will keep for up to 3-4 days.
5. For the strawberry jam, simply wash the strawberries and cut off the tops, then place them in a food processor together with the maple syrup and the chia seeds. Blend until you get a lovely jam like texture, check for sweetness and add some more maple syrup if needed. If you want to add the mint, then add it into the blending process, it really gives the jam a lovely and special flavour. Now fill the jam into small jars, close the lid tightly and leave to set in the fridge. 30 minimum, but best for a few hours or over night.
6. Leave scones to cool down a little before serving them still warm with the cream and jam.
Recipe and image courtesy of Diana Warrings, www.irmagreen.com
22 June 2015
Ingredients for pancakes (makes 16):
- 80g of organic oat flour (simply ground oats).
- 50g of organic buckwheat flour
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- 120ml organic nut or rice milk
- 4 small ripe organic fair trade bananas (cut into slim slices - two to layer between pancakes and two for garnishing)
- 2 medium sized eggs
- 1 tbsp of coconut oil
- 2 tbsp of maple syrup or coconut sugar, plus some extra to garnish
- A pinch of salt, and to garnish a handful of nuts of your choice- pecan nuts work really well
- Sift flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. Next, whisk milk, egg, oil and maple syrup together and pour into the flour mix, then add the mashed banana and beat until you get a smooth batter (alternatively place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth)
- Leave the mix to sit for 15 minutes, it will thicken and produce air bubbles
- Heat a small frying pan with a little coconut oil and add the first small ladle of batter and cook until the top of the pancake starts to bubble, then flip - cook both sides until golden brown (keep the temperature at medium heat to prevent burning)
- Place first pancake on plate and add a layer of banana slices around the outer circle, meanwhile cook the next pancake and when ready place on top of first. Carry on until desired number of pancakes – depending on how many hungry mouths you have to feed!
- The final layer of each pancake 'tower' can be decorated with more banana slices (strawberries are also delicious with this combination), then add pecan nuts and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey
- If you want to add some extra banana flavour you can make a quick coconut and banana cream
Coconut & banana cream (optional)
- 1 cup of fresh coconut or one coconut yogurt
- 1 small organic fair trade banana
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1-2 tbsp nut milk
- A squeeze of lemon juice
Put the 1 cup of fresh coconut, one small banana, a squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of chia and 1 -2 tbsp of nut milk in the food processor and blend until smooth. If you don’t have fresh coconut you can use 1 small tub of coconut yogurt instead, there won’t be any need to add nut milk for that one. Once blended, leave to set in the fridge for about 20 minutes. You can either add it on each serving or spread some onto each layer of the banana tower.
Recipe and image courtesy of Diana Warrings, www.irmagreen.com
02 June 2015
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 50g cornflour
- 50g quinoa flour
- 35g of xylitol or 2 tablespoons of honey
- 210ml of milk – dairy, soya or nut
- 2 ½ tbsp. water
- 1 medium egg
- 4 tsp of coconut oil (1tsp per pancake)
- 4 tbsp blueberries
- 2 tsp xylitol or honey to taste
- 1 tbsp water
- 21 tsp lemon juice
1. Blend all pancake ingredients together except coconut oil until smooth
2. Melt coconut oil in pan (1 tsp per pancake) and tip to coat surface. Place one ladle of batter into the pan and tip to spread evenly
3. Cook for 30-45 seconds then turn/flip to cook over side
4. Remove and keep warm in the oven as you cook remainder of the batter
5. Place all filling ingredients in a pan and heat gently until the berries start to burst and release juice
6. Spoon over pancakes and enjoy
Recipe courtesy of The Low-GI Diet Cookbook, Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce.
Image © Ian Greig Garlick.