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Playing with food

Foods for thought

by Ano Puchalski, staff writer


Veteran college students know that dreaded midterm exams are near if not here already. Even freshmen, new to college, are no strangers to test taking.


Our teachers tell us that the more responsible student gets a good night’s rest the day before an exam, studies from stacks of index cards and pages of notes, and has a little something to eat beforehand: orange juice, an apple, or a sandwich. Yeah right! I know exactly what planet they’re from!

If you are anything like the average college student, you haven’t even opened your book yet. Even if the test is in less than 12 hours, you think you have enough time even though you went out and partied like an animal last night, and your idea of a healthy breakfast is something like soda and a cold pizza, you think you’re ready.

If this describes you, then you are in desperate need of a brain-food makeover.

Better Homes and Gardens magazine suggests avoiding junk foods rich in glucose that give-off “short-lived sugar highs, often followed by a crash that makes you feel hungry and tired.” More complex carbohydrates, coupled with protein, help to enhance brain function by releasing steady amounts of glucose. According to Rachel Brandeis, a registered dietician (RD) in Atlanta, Ga., and American Dietetic Association spokesperson: “Without carbohydrates you might not think as clearly, and you can be lethargic.” Brandeis said that in order to maintain high levels of energy and brain function, people have to eat healthy and have a diet that consists of complex carbohydrates essential to creating fuel for the brain, hence a new meaning in the phrase “food for thought.”

Oatmeal with Skim Milk and an Apple and/ or Raspberries
This dish, which can be eaten hot or cold, contains a healthy amount of vitamins, minerals, and soluble fiber to curb your appetite so you aren’t feeling hungry or tired. Skim milk contains a nonfat source of protein that will keep your energy levels up. Whether you choose to add apples or raspberries, both are good sources of protein and carbohydrates essential to creating fuel for your brain. (Recommended serving size: ¾ cup of oatmeal w/ water, ½ cup skim milk, 1 apple and/or ¾ cup of raspberries.)

Turkey Sandwich on Whole Wheat Bread with Lettuce Tomato and Cheese
Brandeis said that combining food groups is easiest when making a sandwich. Turkey is an extremely low-fat meat protein rich in vitamin B and selenium. Whole wheat bread (brown bread) carries higher levels of iron and magnesium than regular bread does. Veggies like lettuce and tomato are the garnish of this complete meal and contain added amounts of carbohydrates and vitamins like folate. Low-fat cheese such as cheddar or American has calcium and protein which add the finishing touches to this complete meal. (Recommended serving size: 2 slices of wheat bread, 3.5 ounces of turkey, 2 ounces of low-fat cheddar cheese, ¼ large tomato, and as much lettuce as you want.)

Baked Salmon, Brown Rice, and a Garden Salad
Brandeis said that “salmon is a good source of protein and an exceptional source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, that help to prevent heart disease and strokes and can enhance brain function.” However, salmon can be substituted with other fish such as mackerel, bluefish, herring, and ahi to name a few. Most of the fish sold in Hawai‘i’s local stores contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that is high in fiber. Whole wheat pasta, also high in fiber, can be substituted for brown rice. To top off this complete meal, add a salad full of all types of mixed vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, or a combination of your choosing. (Recommended serving size: 3.5 ounce salmon fillet, ¼ cup dry brown rice, and a mixture of vegetables.)

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