Ever wonder if there was a diet that could not only help maintain weight, but also protect your brain and your heart? One science-backed diet that does this is called the MIND Diet, which stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay diet. The MIND Diet is a hybrid approach that can protect your brain against Alzheimer’s while also supporting healthy blood pressure as well.
The MIND Diet uses elements of the Mediterranean diet, which is a very successful plan that includes getting protein and healthy fat from olive oil and fish, as well as consuming tree nuts like almonds. The Mediterranean diet also promotes consuming more fruits and vegetables, and dairy in the form of cheese and yogurt. The Mediterranean diet has been linked to lowering risk of heart disease and early death, as well as lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
The second part of the MIND diet is the DASH diet, which stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension. This diet was shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol in studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health. Like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet plan includes increasing your intake of fruits, whole grains, nuts, beans and lean protein from fish and poultry. It also suggests reducing sugar and fats like butter. Both diets also suggest moderate wine consumption. (Yes, a diet that allows for wine!)
We all know how tough it can be to eat healthy when your work days are long. Even if your office does provide snacks, they’re probably things like granola bars, crackers and trail mixes that are packed with way more calories than you might think — or, even worse, vending machines with candy bars and to satisfy your sweet tooth — as opposed to snacks with more nutritional value and fewer calories, like fresh fruit, greek yogurt, or cottage cheese.
If you're looking for new ways to introduce a brain-and-heart healthy diet into your office routine — one that’s fruit and vegetable dense — consider these five recipes by Maggie Moon, a registered dietitian, and author of the best selling book The MIND Diet. These five recipes are best prepared the night before work and travel well, too — making them the perfect healthy work snacks.
Summery Farro Salad
No time for a real lunch break? That doesn’t mean you have to snack unhealthily at your desk. Try this cold salad, which combines elements of crunchy cucumbers with the sweet and tart flavor of cherries, thyme and vinegar. Cooked whole grain farro, a type of wheat grown in Italy, adds a dimension of texture to the salad, as does raw shallots. Moon suggests that the magic of this dish is in how all the unique flavors of the salad come together, which is garnished with lightly salted pistachios for a bit of healthy fat. The salad only takes 35 minutes to prep and cook, and Moon suggests getting the kids involved to help you pit the cherries. You can get to the summery farro recipe here.
Super Simple Baked Beet Chips with Lemon Zest
You may think of chips as junk food — and most of them are. But if you need a snack idea for something that’s easy to transport and stash in your desk drawer, try this 3-ingredient recipe that gives chips a whole new and nutritious look! Like many vegetables, neets are incredibly nutrient-packed and are a great source of potassium, folate, iron and fiber. Moon suggests slicing medium-sized beets into thin 1/32” slices. If you decide to cut the chips thicker, you will need to adjust the baking time. Toss the beet slices in olive oil, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, rotating the pans half way through. This recipe is incredibly easy and can be much cheaper than buying packaged beet chips at the market! Moon also suggests using delicious lemon zest for seasoning. Get the simple baked beet chips recipe here.
Chicken Curry Salad with Ginger, Almonds and Grapes
Don't let the ingredient list or homemade mayonnaise intimidate you. When wrapped in delicious fresh butter lettuce, this incredible chicken curry salad will be the ultimate afternoon snack treat! Moon's recipe is detailed and easy to follow, including how to expertly toast almond slivers, gently cook the chicken, and mix it with an olive oil based mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice, honey, curry powder mix, and fresh ginger. Add grapes and season with salt and pepper, and you have a flavorful chicken curry salad. Takes about an hour to make, and you can get the recipe here.
“Candy Corn” Parfait
This is one of the most satisfying healthy work snacks to keep in your desk drawer. It can almost be disguised as junk food; the recipe creates a savory and nutrition snack inspired by the waxy Halloween candy. When I read this recipe, I actually it sounded more like a shepherd's pie, since the base of the recipe is mashed potatoes, layered with carrots, cooked ground turkey and fresh corn kernels. You can also easily substitute tofu for the turkey to make this a vegetarian snack. The recipe can take up to an hour to make, but the real fun in packing the ingredients to create the "candy corn" effect. You can get the full Candy Corn recipe here.
Banana Nice Cream Dairy-Free Frozen Treat
If you need a snack idea that will satisfy your sweet tooth or your peanut butter craving— especially when you’re at your desk for way too many hours — try this treat. Four simple ingredients can make the nicest dairy-free confection you've ever had, and can give you a way to salvage overripe bananas! In four quick minutes, you can transform two frozen bananas, vanilla extract, almond milk and peanut butter powder into a smooth "nice cream" that vegans and non-vegans can enjoy. This recipe is also sugar-free since the natural sugars from the frozen bananas are all the sweetness you need. Moon also suggests topping this treat with brain-healthy berries (like dried blueberries), cinnamon or dark chocolate nibs. Take a look at the banana nice cream recipe here.
Tanya Tarr helps people build strategic plans for their lives and businesses and helps them stay healthy in the process. Tanya has a master of science in performance measurement from Carnegie Mellon University and is a certified health coach. She successfully recovered from adrenal fatigue and burnout, in part due to diet changes supported by the MIND Diet plan. She is currently writing a manual and curriculum on negotiation technique and adaptive leadership skills. She believes that bringing our whole selves to work means operating from a healthy, balanced center.