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Give your brain a boost

Traditional Chinese medicine physician Cheong Chin Siong recommends these five foods to boost brain function

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Hedy Khoo on 20 Oct 2019

The Straits Times

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It is exam season now and some parents may be slaving over the stove brewing pig's brain soup, hoping to boost their kids' brain power.

 

But traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physicians say there are more palatable and convenient ways of doing so.

 

Chinese physician Cheong Chin Siong recommends these five foods.

 

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1. WALNUTS

 

With its crinkly-looking exterior resembling a miniature brain, this nut is not the prettiest to look at but packs a punch in nutrition.

 

Walnuts contain protein, fatty acids and vitamins B and E. They are believed to boost memory and aid brain function.

 

Mr Cheong recommends snacking on four to five walnuts at a time. The nuts can also be used in soups.

 

2. PINE NUTS

 

In TCM, pine nuts are believed to nourish the spleen and facilitate cognition.

 

Mr Cheong recommends chowing down 20 pine nuts, in between doing stacks of assessment papers, but he suggests eating no more than 90 a day.

 

3. DRIED CHRYSANTHEMUM FLOWERS

 

Mr Cheong recommends having it as a tea to reduce internal heat caused by stress and late nights of studying. Chrysanthemum tea is also believed to relieve headaches.

 

4. BLACK SESAME

 

Black sesame is believed to be good for the liver and kidneys.

 

It is also used to relieve dizziness and headaches.

 

Mr Cheong recommends toasting or dry-frying black sesame seeds until they are fragrant. Grind them and add to beverages.

 

Add one tablespoon of ground black sesame to 200ml of milk and drink this weekly.

 

5. TIAN MA (GASTRODIA TUBER)

 

In TCM, tian ma is believed to dispel wind and promote circulation. As a herb, it is used to relieve dizziness and headaches.

 

COOLING BREW

 

INGREDIENTS

 

  • 6g dried chrysanthemum
  • 12g tian ma (gastrodia tuber)
  • 10g dried longan
  • 10g wolfberries
  • 500ml water

 

METHOD

 

1. Place all the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil.

 

2. Turn off the heat and soak for 30 minutes before drinking.

 

MEMORY-BOOSTING SOUP

 

This recipe includes chuan gong (Szechuan lovage), which promotes blood circulation and is believed to relieve headaches.

 

INGREDIENTS

 

  • 1.5 litres water (for blanching)
  • 3 chicken legs
  • 3.5 litres water
  • 30g yu zhu (Solomon's seal)
  • 30g dangshen (codonopsis root)
  • 8g chuan gong (Szechuan lovage)
  • 20g tian ma (gastrodia tuber)
  • 8 red dates
  • 20g wolfberries
  • 1 tsp salt

 

METHOD

 

1. Bring 1.5 litres of water to a boil. Blanch the chicken until there is no more blood. Remove the chicken and rinse.

 

2. In a clean and sturdy pot, bring 3.5 litres of water to a boil.

 

3. Place the blanched chicken in the soup.

 

4. Add the yu zhu, dangshen, chuan gong, tian ma and red dates.

 

5. Cover and bring to a boil.

 

6. Once the soup reaches a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer covered for 1 hour and 50 minutes.

 

7. Add the wolfberries and season with salt.

 

8. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

 

9. Serve hot.

 

BRAIN TONIC SOUP

 

For this soup, brew it together with American ginseng, which is believed to nourish the lungs and stomach and boost energy. Fu ling (poria cocos) is believed to be beneficial for sleep.

 

INGREDIENTS

 

  • 1.5 litres water (for blanching)
  • 3 chicken legs (670g), skins removed
  • 3.5 litres water
  • 25g walnuts
  • 10g American ginseng
  • 16g tian ma (gastrodia tuber)
  • 20g fu ling (poria cocos)
  • 3g chuan gong (Szechuan lovage)
  • 15g wolfberries
  • 1 tsp salt

 

METHOD

 

1. Bring 1.5 litres of water to a boil. Blanch the chicken until there is no more blood. Remove the chicken and rinse.

 

2. In a clean and sturdy pot, bring 3.5 litres of water to a boil.

 

3. Place the blanched chicken in the soup.

 

4. Add the walnuts, American ginseng, tian ma, fu ling and Szechuan lovage into the pot.

 

5. Cover and bring to a boil.

 

6. Once the soup reaches a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer covered for 1 hour and 50 minutes.

 

7. Add in the wolfberries and season with salt.

 

8. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

 

9. Serve hot.

 

Makes three servings

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 

 

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