Recipes promoting brain health feed the memory

(Pxfuel photo)

Shabbat Shalom! Finally, after months of anticipation, Norene Gilletz’s latest cookbook is available.

The Brain Boosting Diet: Feed your Memory was co-authored by Gilletz, an author and food columnist, and Ed Wein, a nutritional scientist.

Wein gives the nutritional information on how to prevent cognitive decline and preserve memory. This information is incorporated into 200 delectable recipes created by Gilletz. Wein emphasizes the benefits of a plant-based diet and Gilletz follows up with corresponding recipes – salads, sides dishes, main courses, and desserts.

We all want to make better food choices to promote brain health. What’s interesting is that the nutritional profile of many of the recipes in The Brain Boosting Diet are beneficial for general health as well.

I like the fact that the book is a one-stop shopping experience. Wein, or Dr. Ed as he’s referred to in the book, has included nutritional information for every recipe. I often check the Internet for information on ingredients but with The Brain Boosting Diet, that step is unnecessary.

There also a nutritional profile for each recipe thanks to the input of Sharona Abramovitch, a registered dietician who worked as a consultant on the book.

Of course anybody familiar with Gilletz’s many books – there are 12 to date – know that not only do her recipes work, but she often gives variations and so you end up with multiple recipes on a single page. The Brain Boosting Diet follows this trend and provides all kinds of options for many of the recipes.

For instance, in Norene’s Notes for Double-Good Chocolate Muffins, she suggests substituting wheat bran for oat bran and chopped nuts – pecans or almonds – for chocolate chips. For the dairy-based Brain Boosting Smoothie, she offers a pareve option.

A lot of people are consuming more plant-based dishes these days. Gilletz’s Portobello Mushroom Pizza works well as a main course for a dairy, plant-based dinner and it’s a great dish for entertaining. The combination of mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese makes it a crowd pleaser.

Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing is perfect for potluck dinners because it’s a vegan recipe with an Asian-style dressing. It’s really tasty and pareve and it’s perfect for people cutting back on dairy and meat consumption.



60 ml (¼ cup) canola oil

125 ml (½ cup) sugar

95 ml (1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp) water

1 large egg

250 ml (1 cup) mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)

310 ml (1¼ cups) whole wheat flour

250 ml (1 cup) oat bran cereal

60 ml (¼ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder

10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder

2 ml (½ tsp) baking soda

.5 ml (1/8 tsp) salt

125 ml (½ cup) chocolate chips (semisweet or sugar-free)


Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

Spray the compartments of a muffin pan with nonstick spray.

Combine the oil, sugar, water, and egg in a large bowl and beat for 1–2 minutes.

Add the bananas and mix until blended.

Add the flour, oat bran, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until blended. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each compartment about three-quarters full.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean.

Mushroom Pizza


6 large portobello mushroom caps, stems removed

15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced (about 15 ml or 1 tbsp)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dried basil Dried Oregano

125 ml (½ cup) tomato sauce (preferably low-sodium or no-salt-added)

125 ml (½ cup) diced tomato

185–250 ml (3/4–1 cup) grated low-fat mozzarella cheese


Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).

Rinse the mushroom caps briefly and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly brush the mushroom caps on all sides with oil, then sprinkle with garlic and seasonings. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet, rounded side up. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Remove the sheet from the oven and turn mushroom caps over. Fill each with a spoonful of tomato sauce and diced tomato. Sprinkle with cheese. Return the mushrooms to the oven and bake for 5 minutes longer.

Serve 2 or 3 ‘pizzas’ per person, along with your favourite salad.

Kale slaw from The Brain Boosting Diet (Abaham Wornovitzky and Jasmine Deboer, photography and food styling)


Kale Slaw:

1 medium bunch kale (about 1 lb/500 g)

15 ml (1 tbsp ) canola oil

1 L (4 cups) shredded red cabbage (or one 16-oz/500-g pkg)

500 ml (2 cups) shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)

1 red bell pepper, diced

125 ml (½ cup) diced red onion

125 ml (½ cup) chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

125 ml (½ cup) toasted slivered almonds (for garnish)

Peanut Dressing/Marinade

2 cloves garlic

60 ml (¼ cup) peanut butter (preferably natural with no added sugar)

30 ml (2 tbsp) rice vinegar

30 ml (2 tbsp) soy sauce or tamari (preferably low-sodium)

30 ml (2 tbsp) honey

5 ml (1 tsp) toasted sesame oil

45-60 ml (3-4 tbs) orange juice (preferably fresh)

Pinch red pepper flakes


Prepare Peanut Dressing/Marinade as directed and refrigerate until needed.

Dressing: Mince the garlic in a mini prep or food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, orange juice, and red pepper flakes.

Process until blended, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If it’s too thick, drizzle in a little more orange juice.

Store the dressing in a jar in the refrigerator until it’s ready to use. Shake well before using.

Kale Slaw: Wash the kale and dry it thoroughly. Remove and discard the tough stalks and centre veins. Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces and place it in a large bowl. Using your fingertips, massage the kale with oil for 2–3 minutes to break down the tough fibres.

Add the cabbage, carrots, red pepper, onion, and parsley. Drizzle the slaw with the prepared dressing and toss to combine. Refrigerate the slaw covered, to blend flavours.

At serving time, place the slaw into 8 individual salad bowls and top with almonds. Serve chilled.



Peanut butter: Store natural peanut butter in the refrigerator. When needed, stir well, measure the desired quantity, and bring it to room temperature for easier blending. Alternatively, microwave the butter on medium for 30 seconds, then stir well.

Variation: Use almond butter (homemade or store-bought) instead of peanut butter. If you are allergic to peanuts (or any nuts!), use a peanut butter substitute.



Thurs. Jan. 30: Culinary Discoveries hosted by Technion Canada. The evening will focus on the science of food – demos, tastings and explanations from chefs explaining the science behind the dishes. The event takes place 7 to 10 p.m. Location: Kitchen 24 in Toronto. For more information:

Sun. Feb. 9: A Celebration of Canadian Jewish Cookery is the theme for the annual Hungry for Comfort: A Celebration of our Food History. The program takes place 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m at Fort York National Historic Site and will be part of Winterlicious 2020.

Wed. Feb. 12: Shoresh Annual Fundraiser: Taking Root. Time: 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Location: Eglinton West Gallery, 2301 Keele Street. For more information: