Wellness Cucina | National Nutrition Month | MIND Diet

Personal Chef, Dietitian, Nutrition, Wellness

During the month of March we are going to be focusing on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating habits specifically with the MIND Diet.

“Go Further with Food” is the theme for 2018, and its importance is timely for many reasons.

Preparing foods to go further at home and within the community can have a positive impact, as well by adopting healthier eating styles, while reducing food loss and waste.

Today we are going to focus on the foods you choose can make a difference for long-term brain health! 

The MIND Diet

The MIND Diet was developed based off of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to create a dietary pattern that focuses specifically on brain health. Research has show that these two diets can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and several other diseases

MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. To crate a diet specifically to help brain function and prevent dementia, researches combined the foods from the Mediterranean and DASH diets that have been shown to benefit brain health.

For example, both of these diets recommend fruit intake; fruit intake has not been correlated with improved brain function berry consumption has! Therefore the MIND diet encourages berry consumption, but not the consumption of fruit in general.

As of now, there are no specific guidelines for the MIND diet, other than to consume more of the 10 foods the diet encourages and limit the 5 foods it discourages.

10 Foods to Consume:          Green Leafy Veggies                   All Veggies                             Berries                                         Nuts                                           Whole Grains                             Olive Oil                                             Fish                                           Beans                                       Poultry                                        Wine

5 Foods to Limit:                      Butter & Margarine               Cheese                                         Red Meat                                    Fried Food                               Pastries & Sweets 


Aim for six or more servings per week of green, leafy veggies. 

Try to consume other (non-starchy) veggies in addition to leafy greens at least once daily. 

Choose a variety of berries at least twice per week for their antioxidant benefits. 

Make an effort to consume at least five servings of nuts every week — vary the kind of nuts to obtain a variety of nutrients, while sticking to the specified serving size. 

Cook with olive oil, as mostly a monounsaturated fat it will not breakdown when heated and therefore is a safer option to cook at high heat. 

Choose whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats…at least three servings a day. 

Consume fish at least one per week; choose fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, and mackerel for their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Include legumes such as beans and lentils in your meals at least 4 times weekly. 

Incorporate poultry twice a week; use cooking methods like roasting, searing, and sautéing rather than frying. 

Don’t whine about this last one…aim for one glass of wine; preferably red because it contains resveratrol, which may help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.


Limit butter and margarine to less than one tablespoon daily, and cheese to less than once per week.

Choose red meat at most three times per week; that includes beef, pork, and lamb.

Limit fried food, especially from fast food restaurants, to less than once per week.

Processed foods, junk foods, sweets, candies, pastries, and anything else artificial or processed should be limited to no more than four times per week.

to be continued…

It’s Time to Get Infused! | Infusing Oils

Wellness, Diet, Dietitian, Nutrition, Nutritionist, Personal Chef


Infusing oils any time of year can make for a great gift, or just a flavored alternative to keep around the house! 

It sounds so fancy to have used Infused Olive Oil in a dish…but really it is super easy to make and can really enhance and change a dish completely! 

You can infuse any type of oil, but I typically recommend a neutral flavored oil like olive, grape seed or safflower oils. 

I know it will be asked, because I often get this question…what is the difference between extra virgin and olive oil?

The answer: Extra virgin is a cold press of the olives with no heat applied — the oil typically has a floral taste and can be a greenish hue. The remaining pulp is what is used to make olive oil, heat and pressure are applied to press out the remaining oils. 

Extra virgin should be used in a cold application, like salad dressing or to drizzle atop a puréed soup. 

Olive oil should be used in a heat application, like sautéing. Olive oil has a higher smoke point than extra virgin meaning that it can withstand the heat and won’t burn. 

Okay! Now that you know the difference between these oils, you can make an informed decision as to which you will choose for infusion. 

I like to take a variety of fresh herbs, whole spices, citrus peels, and alliums to infuse oil. 

Step 1: Prep out your ingredients.  

 – Measure spice combinations. 

– Wash  hearty herbs.

– Clean and peel citrus (be sure to only use the peel and to cut off the pith, the white part). 

– Peel garlic cloves and remove the stem.

Step 2: Heat and cool your oil. 

– Heat your oil in the microwave for 30-45 seconds, just until it is warm, but not boiling! 

–  Prior to adding in the ingredients ensure that the oils cools for 15-20 seconds, so the ingredients don’t cook. 

Step 3: Add the infusion! 

– You can add one ingredient such as rosemary. 

– You can add a combination of ingredients such as black peppercorns, rosemary, lemon, and garlic*.

– Infuse in an open container until the oil cools. 

Step 4: Store in a bottle. 

– Store in a bottle with or without the ingredients. (I prefer to strain the ingredients). 

Step 5: Use it!

– Get creative and incorporate your infused oils into a variety of dishes! 

*If you are adding garlic to an oil, I like to add the garlic in while microwaving the oil and microwave for at least 1 minute. This allows the garlic to be cooked just a bit, this process will help to prevent botulism.