Every week, usually Thursday or Friday, my husband and I plan our meals for the following week. We choose three meals, without a specific day in mind when we’ll make them, which gives us room for leftovers or unexpected events. We are pretty flexible, loosely scheduled people – so this works for us.
While the meals vary because I can’t have the same thing every week for dinner, there are some items on our list that don’t change. Since I like to leave wiggle room for the unexpected, there are pantry and fridge stocking items that I always try to include – just in case.
What follows are the items I make sure to have present as much as possible. They’re in no particular order, but I may have saved the best for last. 🙂
Red meat (grass fed especially) gives me B vitamins, omega 3 fats, and minerals like iron and zinc. I noticed a major improvement in my brain fog when I started eating grass fed beef! We like to make chili, tacos, steak and veggies, and other fun recipes like upgraded hamburger helper, stew, and my favorite, egg roll in a bowl.
Eggs are nature’s multivitamin – the yolk contains the highest concentrated amount of choline you’ll find anywhere. Why choline? Because many take anticholinergic drugs like Benedryl that increases risk of cognitive decline. No bueno. Get that choline! Eggs are my favorite way to repurpose leftover meat and veggies from previous dinners. Here’s my easy frittata recipe that’s a go-to when I don’t know what to make.
Seafood, especially oysters, wild salmon and sardines, contain omega 3s that have been shown, again and again, to decrease inflammation and combat mental health issues. I like to throw sardines or wild salmon on a salad that has chopped cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts or broccoli, then drizzle with a Primal Kitchens dressing. Don’t knock them until you try them!
Leafy green veggies contain folate, which is so needed for mental health, and if you have a genetic SNP that impairs folate methylation, you need these! They’re also extremely helpful to aid in the detoxification process, which we all need on the regular. I blend leafy greens into spaghetti sauce, smoothies, and sauces.
Rainbow fruits and veggies – because all colors make such a difference in phytonutrient variety! The more colors, the better for your microbiome diversity! Ideally, we need to shoot for 25 different types in a week. It adds up quickly, especially when you include herbs like cilantro, parsley, and rosemary. People often ask me, “But how much do I need?” I don’t like to focus so much on the amount as the actual presence of them. Many of us are barely getting 10 veggies in a week, so I’d rather focus on adding them in than exactly what specific amounts are needed.
Nuts are always on my list, because for one thing, we all need that crunch! I like to top my salads, oatmeal, yogurt, or even smoothies with anything from pistachios, slivered almonds, pecans, to macadamia nuts. I am avoiding cashews right now because I’m sensitive to them. But I try to continue adding variety so that doesn’t happen with any other nut or seed. Fun fact – did you know walnuts have been shown to prevent cognitive decline? See the fascinating study here.
Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants, boosts mood, and improved blood flow to the brain! Plus – it’s delicious. Need I say more? I like to stick to above 80% cocoa for maximum benefits.
This week, we’re making a variety of meals that contain these items. We’re having grilled meat and veggies, build your own shrimp and grits, burgers and veggies, and then we’ll have a night of leftovers or our own version of charcuterie, which really just means a plate of veggies, meat, and fancy aged cheeses.
It can often seem stressful when transitioning to a more whole foods based diet. But when you focus on the basics – protein and veggies – the meals start to flow together naturally.
If you’re looking for new meals to shake things up, I recommend the new book Cook Once Dinner Fix by Cassy Joy Garcia. She’s an upcoming guest on the podcast, and her meals are always packed with nutrition and deliciousness. Stay tuned for that interview!
As always, feel free to reach out if you want more personalized support. I’d love to help you and your family with all your brain health goals!