The Brain Health Kitchen Book Review – Informative, Engaging, A Must Have (Recipe)

The Brain Health Kitchen, by Artisan Publishers and Dr. Annie Fenn, brings to the pages the concept that one can eat healthy, delicious, and scrumptious meals and aid brain health and reduce your risk of dementia.

Each day a new health or science revelation is disseminated from the positive effects of caffeine to the negative effects of caffeine, and as researchers uncover more information about the brain, we are understanding the importance of brain health.

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Annie Fenn, MD, the author of The Brain Health Kitchen, prescribes to the philosophy that Alzheimer's can be prevented through the foods we eat. Scientific studies show that there are ten foods with powerful neuroprotective properties, or superfoods, and most of them, green leafy vegetables, berries, whole grains, beans, lentils, and fatty fish and olive oil, are many of the same we her about each day.

The Brain Health Kitchen includes eleven food-based sections, including "Berries," "Leafy Greens," "Vegetables," "Fish and Seafood," "Nuts and Seeds," "Beans and Lentils," "Whole Grains," "Meat, Poultry and Eggs," "Olives and Olive Oil," "Coffee, Tea, and Other Drinks," and "Brain-Healthy Pantry Heroes."

Before she provides more than 300 pages of food research, ideas, and combinations, Dr. Finn opens with her inspiration and motivation behind this effort. In the introductory paragraph of the preface, we meet Annie, a physician who has always loved food, and began to see mild cognitive decline in her patients and then when her mother was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which is early-stage Alzheimer's. So, Dr. Annie (her own choice of introduction) of Jackson, Wyoming decided to turn her devastation into triumph and from that was born this tome.

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For most adults, the idea of food and preventive care misinformation passed on from generation to generation has some root. Dr. Annie has taken all those misconceptions and clarified the notions of Alzheimer's, (especially in women) and prepared short easy to read, condensed snippets of packed information. Her introductions of "Race and Ethnic Disparities in Alzheimer's" and which diet is best, "The Mediterranean Diet," "The Blue Zone," "The Mind Diet," "The Green Med Diet" and plant-based, and others and provides the benefits for all. She also explains the types of dementia and why it targets women.

"Brain Health Begins in the Kitchen," of course, is where the hammer falls on the idea of incorporating all those not so good foods as we turn over our brain health new leaf. "The Six Foods Groups to Limit or Avoid" offers a simple introductory statement to gain the readers attention: "While some foods are neuroprotection others can actually accelerate brain aging."

Brain health isn't all about exercise even though a walk a day keeps dementia at bay or about eating a plant-based diet or passing on one food group or another. What researchers do explain that in combination all these efforts, the right food, walking each day, will work together like a long-term investment. The dividends in brain health will keep paying off long into old age, and even redefining "old" age in some. Like all when confronting what seems like an insurmountable obstacle we say, "it's too late." The great thing about the brain is that it really does cleanse itself nightly; it's like a self-cleaning machine clearing out the junk.

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The Brain Health Kitchen takes readers further and like a good computer does the work for us. She presents more than 100 recipes that can be incorporated into most meal planning.

Granted some of the recipes, even with a desire to stay brain healthy won't work. However, there are others like "Sheet Pan Lamb Chops with Asparagus, Lemon and Peas," and "Lemongrass Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad" (recipe featured below) that will.

The Brain Health Kitchen is a must have for every person concerned with their health.

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Try this delicious brain healthy recipe:

Recipe and photo may be reprinted with the following credit: Recipe and photo reprinted with permission from The Brain Health Kitchen Cookbook by Annie Fenn. Photo by Alexandra Grablewski  Artisan/2023.

Lemongrass Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad


Think of this fresh and crunchy salad as a cross between shrimp pad Thai and a spicy noodle salad. Although I love traditional pad Thai, with its stir-fried noodles and tangy tamarind sauce, at home I am more likely to go light on the noodles and heavy on the vegetables. This dish is especially good with Forbidden Rice noodles, a purple-black variety made from anthocyanin- rich Forbidden Rice (aka black). If you can't find it, use regular rice, or brown rice noodles instead.

There's really no substitute for the intense, citronella-like aroma and flavor that fresh lemongrass adds to the shrimp. In a pinch, you can get by using lemongrass paste in a tube (use 2 tablespoons paste for 3 tablespoons freshly chopped). The good news is, most grocery stores now carry fresh lemongrass stalks. Look for them in the produce section next to the ginger.


¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lime juice

¼ cup (60 ml) rice vinegar

1½ to 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (Indonesian fresh chili paste)

½ pound (225 g) Forbidden Rice noodles (or thin, pad Thai–style rice noodles)

1 tablespoon avocado oil

1 large shallot (5 ounces/ 140 g), finely chopped (about ½ cup)

3 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass, pale, tender centers only

One 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger, grated (about 1 tablespoon)

3 large garlic cloves, chopped (about

1 tablespoon)

1 pound (455 g) medium shrimp (about 30), peeled and deveined (see Tip)

3 medium carrots (12 ounces/340 g), shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler.

2 loosely packed cups (80 g) tender lettuces (butter, Bibb, or baby romaine), torn into bite-size pieces.

2 cups (60 g) chopped fresh mixed herbs (mint, basil, and cilantro leaves), plus more for garnish.

½ cup (70 g) raw peanuts, roughly chopped,

Lime wedges

1. Stir together the lime juice, vinegar, and 1½ teaspoons of the sambal oelek (more if you prefer a spicier dish) in a large bowl. Set aside, reserving 2 tablespoons of the dressing to drizzle on the finished dish.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring occasionally until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. (Or follow the package directions, as some rice noodles will cook by soaking in hot water.) Drain well, add to the bowl with the dressing, toss, and set aside. 

3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, lemongrass, and ginger and cook until the shallot is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and the shrimp, stir to coat with the lemongrass mixture, and cook until the shrimp are just pink on both sides, about 4 minutes total. Turn off the heat and set aside.

4. Add the carrots, lettuce, and herbs to the bowl of noodles. Toss well and divide among shallow bowls. Top with the shrimp, then sprinkle with the peanuts and more herbs. Just before serving, drizzle with the reserved dressing. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled, with lime wedges alongside.

TIP: When purchasing shrimp, look for American wild-caught shrimp. Shrimp imported from other countries is more likely to be contaminated with environmental toxins, fraudulently labeled, and the result of unethical labor practices. If purchasing frozen shrimp at the grocery store, look for peeled, tail-on shrimp for the best product. Cleaning the shrimp of its innards takes only a minute and ensures your shrimp will be safe to eat. Just take a sharp knife along the back and under the belly and remove any dark-colored debris. Or ask the fishmonger at the grocery store to clean them for you. As for canned shrimp: don't buy it. Most is imported from countries with questionable farming practices and heavy use of antibiotics.

Science bite:  Astaxanthin in Shrimp

Shrimp is rich in the antioxidant astaxanthin, a member of the carotenoid family of nutrients. Animal studies have documented that astaxanthin exerts impressive neuroprotective effects on cognition and memory. Its antioxidant power is active right where the brain is most vulnerable to amyloid deposition—in the hippocampus. Scientists hope to prove that getting enough astaxanthin in the diet has the same neuroprotective properties in human brains, and it is being evaluated as a possible therapeutic agent for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Besides shrimp, crab and scallops are also rich in astaxanthin.


Title: The Brain Health Kitchen Preventing Alzheimer's Through Food.

Author: Annie Fenn, M.D.

Publisher: Artisan Publishers.

Image/Photography: by Alexandra Grablewski   Artisan/2023

Length: 399 pages, Hardcover.

ISBN: 978-1-64829-037-7.

MSRP: $35.00 (U.S.), $44.00 (Can).

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