During Holiday times we share food with the people we care about the most – family and friends, as well as work colleagues and clients.  So why not make our holiday foods healthy as well as delicious.

Holiday brain food ideas follow the Memory Preservation Nutrition® program developed by Dr. Nancy Emerson Lombardo based on the latest evidence. Research shows that brain foods can boost your brain health at ANY age.  Our team at HealthCare Insights, LLC, and the talented chefs at Assisted Living communities implementing the Memory Preservation Nutrition® program, enhance these ideas and sample recipes with    their  own cooking skills to create scrumptious foods.  We’d like to share some of these ideas for the holidays. Actual recipes can be found at

   Sugar free delicious MPN™ cranberry sauce with apples, pears, cinnamon & nuts 

For brain healthier meals for family holidays: serve brain boosters instead of brain busters.  Here’s how:

  • Add nutritious ingredients such as foods full of anti-oxidants, that are anti-inflammatory, and that help us lower, rather than raise, our blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.  To do this: Add more vegetables, spices, herbs   and other plant foods, such as nuts, seeds, fruits, especially leafy green vegetables.                                        mpn-food-basket-300-x-229-pixels
  • Use fewer animal foods and more fish and seafood
  • Limit brain busters in your recipes:  sugar, white flour, white rice, refined starches, processed foods, salt and saturated and especially trans fats.
  • Let your family and friends know you love them enough to go the extra mile, maybe trying out something new and equally delicious to what they are used to.
  • Adapt favorite family recipes and make them more brain and body healthy.


Here are some specific ideas to preserve brain power:

1.  Make Your Sweets Nutritious

Whenever you are offering a dish with sugar, offset that sugar with  have healthy ingredients such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and spices, herbs, and ideally some protein and healthy fats as well.  Examples include: Fresh whole fruits,   Greek yogurt parfaits,    dark chocolate truffles,   apple crisp,  pies, or fruit & nut breads made with whole wheat pastry flour, trans-fat-free healthy fats, and natural sugar substitutes. (see for recipes). To be brain healthy for everyone, choose dishes that would be safe for a person who is diabetic. Foods that spike our blood sugar are especially damaging to the brain and our memory. Instead of sugar & corn syrup, try safe zero calorie natural sweeteners such as stevia, Truvia®, Purevia®, or lower glycemic index coconut sugar.  Use these also in your cranberry sauce instead of sugar.  

2.     Serve Brain Healthy Appetizers

  • · Limit the amount of appetizers that are loaded with salt or saturated fats, and processed foods. Especially avoid red colored meats with nitrates (such as corned beef, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, ham, and bacon). Avoid foods with ingredients such as transfats, high fructose corn syrup, and other refined sugars. Suggestions include shrimp, scallops, healthy dips (see below), lean turkey/chicken sate’s, veggie sticks, olives, artichokes, avocadoes, nuts and fruits.        use lots of herbs & spices every day!Nuts
  • · Avoid ANYTHING with “partially hydrogenated” on the list of ingredients even if the Nutrition Facts declare no or 0% trans fats.
  • · Look for whole wheat or whole grain crackers and pita chips. Plain original Triscuits are whole wheat with no additives (avoid the newer “spice” ones which are full of additives). “Annie’s” little whole wheat bunny crackers are popular.
  • · Include vegetables, such as cut up vegetables dipped in healthy dips such as humus and guacamole, or use yogurt in your dips.    fruits-berries-pineapple

3.     Serve Brainy Beverages:  Use water, fruit juice, natural mineral waters or smoothies. Skip the soda.  Skip any sugar-added beverage (read the label of the juices you buy! Anything that says fruit cocktail or that doesn’t say “100% fruit juice” has added sugar.)

  • · Make sure everyone is offered a glass or bottle of water.
  • · Offer iced or hot tea (GREEN or black) if you have tea lovers in your group.  Coffee is OK.
  • · Offer cinnamon for coffee or tea as alternative to cream or sugar.

4.     Make Your Smoothies “Green”

Take your favorite fruit based smoothie and make it healthier by adding some greens (e.g. kale, romaine, parsley, spinach) to your mixture before blending.

5.     Serve Brain and Heart Healthy Soups

For flavor use herbs and spices and extra vegetables, instead of salt or fat.

6.     Include a Fresh Green Salad;        

7.     Serve a Cooked Green Leafy Vegetable along with whatever other vegetables you traditionally serve.  Leafy green vegetables are stars among vegetables for brain health. Examples are Swiss Chard, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, escarole, kale and bok choy.

8.     Make Your “Carb” Dishes Beige/Brown Instead Of White

(and try adding cauliflower to your mashed potatoes (50-50 or 100% cauliflower! 

9.     In Your Sweet Potato or Yam Dishes, Use Non-Sugar Natural Sweeteners

(i.e. stevia, Truvia or Purevia, or try coconut sugar or raw honey instead of sugar or brown sugar)   

10.     Use Lots More Herbs and Spices in Everything You Cook (while using less salt and sugar) to add more nutrition and more flavor.


If some of the listed brain foods leave you curious as to WHY the Memory Preservation Nutrition® program recommends them, go to Answers to Some Whys for Some Memory Preservation® programs Recommended Ingredients




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