Belfast Telegraph

Brainy dinner time banquets for upping your thinking game

Here, in association with Lidl, we dish out family-friendly tea-time meals to boost how the mind works in your home!

Did you know that what you put into your stomach impacts your performance?

The stomach is often cited as the second brain with the mind-gut connection not just metaphorical. Our brain and gut are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones according to scientists which makes food choices even more important during the learning years. 

And unhealthy beige foods are creating an epidemic of drowsy, mind-fogged and sleepless individuals of all ages.

We are living faster lives with faster foods the easiest nutritional choice and over centuries we have moved from whole food diets to processed and refined food plans.

Not only do these foods contribute to ill health but they can lead to emotional distress believe dieticians so making changes like swapping beige for a rainbow of colours at mealtimes to changing white bread for high fibre varieties and introducing brain foods to your mealtimes are a great way to start.

Here we pick our top smartie pants ingredients, and suggest quick fix meals, to make the week a learning experience for your Lidl Geniuses. And you...

1) Salmon

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One of the most nutritious and brain-food-friendly, salmon is packed with omega-3 DHA fatty acids that help the brain run smoothly and it improves memory. DHA also plays a role in maintaining the health of brain cells and stimulates the growth of cells in the brain’s memory centre. It’s also a great source of protein to combat stress, sugar slumps and keep moods stable.

Integrate it into your dinner with Lidl’s salmon noodle recipe at https://recipes.lidl-ni.co.uk/Recipes/Super-Quick-Salmon-Noodles

What you need (for two servings):

  • 2 fillets Hot Smoked Pepper Salmon Fillets
  • 0.5 packet egg noodles
  • 1 whole carrot grated
  • 3 whole scallions finely sliced
  • 0.25 whole cucumber finely sliced
  • 1 whole Lime

Cooking time: 15 Min.

Method: Pour boiling water over the noodles, stir and leave to one side for 10 minutes to cook through. After 10 minutes, drain away the water and stir in the carrot, scallions, and cucumber. Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime as a dressing. Flake the salmon (ready-to-eat or heat on the bbq for a few minutes) into the noodles and stir then serve immediately. Can be eaten hot or cold and this meal is slimmer-friendly as there are no added fats.

2) Eggs

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Rich in choline, the precursor chemical for acetylcholine, one of the most fundamental neurotransmitters eggs are a fantastic brain food. In addition, eggs contain cholesterol, an important component of brain cell membranes as well as serving as a brain-protective antioxidant. Lidl’s carbonara recipe is a great way to include eggs into a classic dinner time favourite. https://recipes.lidl-ni.co.uk/Recipes/Classic-Carbonara

What you need (for four servings):

  • 1 packet DULANO Bacon Bits
  • 1 leek chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 4 egg yolks beaten
  • 1 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 50 g Parmigiano Reggiano DOP Shavings
  • 1 packet spaghetti

Cooking time: 10 Min.

Method: Beat egg whites with 1 tbsp of water. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Fry the bacon bits in the oil until crisp and keep warm. Stir half the parmesan into the egg yolk and water mixture. When the pasta is nearly cooked add the shredded leeks and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes. Drain the pasta then return to the pot and lower the heat. Stir in the egg and parmesan mixture little by little, then season with salt and lots of black pepper. Divide into warm bowls and scatter the crispy bacon over the top of each along with the remaining parmesan.

3) Avocado

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Nutrient dense and low in carbs, the benefits of the avocado sometime seem endless. They’re also high in monounsaturated fats which can help to protect brain cells. And they’re higher in potassium than bananas. A healthy potassium intake, according to some studies, is linked to reduced blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. The fat content also allows better absorption of nutrients from other foods too.

For a quick evening meal, Lidl’s Sweet Chilli, Turkey and Avocado Baguette is just the ticket for your family’s avo fix. https://recipes.lidl-ni.co.uk/Recipes/Sweet-Chilli-Turkey-Avocado-Baguette

What you need (for four persons):

  • 1 Avocado - ripe
  • 1 packet of turkey breast stir fry
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 French baguette
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cooking time: 10 Min.

This lovely sandwich only takes minutes to make. The sweet chilli adds a little bit of heat and the avocado some cool, rich creaminess.

Method: Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Carefully add the turkey pieces and cook for around 7 minutes, or until cooked through, turning occasionally. Add the sweet chilli sauce and stir well. Season with pepper and remove from the heat. Cut the baguette into quarters lengthwise. Scoop the avocado flesh out of the skin, crush it gently with the lemon juice and basil leaves and season. Spoon the mixture onto the baguette halves. Place the hot turkey pieces on top along with a little of the sweet chilli sauce, sandwich the baguette together and serve immediately.

And for a sweet treat....

4) Dark Chocolate

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Research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, states that countries with the highest per capita chocolate consumption have more Nobel Prize winners. And it isn’t the first research to make the connection between chocolate and brain performance. Other studies claim that dark chocolate’s flavonoid antioxidants boost cognitive function, reduce the risk of dementia, and improve performance on challenging brain teasers. Need any more reasons? 

For a tasty choc treat, make your own Banana Chocolate Trifle https://recipes.lidl-ni.co.uk/Recipes/Banana-Chocolate-Trifle-in-Glass

What you need (for four persons):

  • 50 g dark chocolate
  • 1 medium egg
  • 120 g cream - whipped
  • 40 g icing sugar
  • 100 g chocolate chip cookies
  • 2 tbsp whiskey cream liqueurs 
  • 180 g bananas

Cooking time: 30 Min.

Method: Chop the chocolate and melt over a hot water bath. Remove and allow to cool. Separate egg, whip egg whites stiff. 90g cream also stiff. Egg yolks and sifted icing sugar for 2-3 minutes until thick. Add the remaining cream. Add the chocolate slowly and stir well. Beat the whipped cream and the egg whites and leave to cool for about 30 minutes. Crumble cookies and distribute them into 4 evenly-portioned glasses. Sprinkle with liqueur. Peel 1 banana and cut into thin slices. Spread over the cookies and pour over chocolate. Cover the glasses for at least 2 hours. Before serving, peel the remaining banana and cut into slices. 

For more Lidl recipes click here: https://recipes.lidl-ni.co.uk/

All new Goodness Gang coming soon to Lidl, Northern Ireland, find out more at https://www.lidl-ni.co.uk/en/food-heroes.htm

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