Brain tonic soup for that extra mental boost
TCM ingredients to fortify your mind and help you prepare for exams or work
What can you eat to boost your brain power?
As a child, I would hear stories of my classmates being forced by their parents to consume pig's brain soup during the exam season.
I have tasted it once in my life and have no intention of doing so ever again.
Thankfully, there are more palatable and convenient traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) ways to fortify your brain.
Chinese physician Cheong Chin Siong recommends these five foods.
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, and 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.
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.
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.
Black sesame is believed to be good for the liver and kidneys, and is also used to relieve dizziness and headaches.
Mr Cheong recommends toasting or dry-frying black sesame seeds until they are fragrant. Then grind them and add to beverages.
Add one tablespoon of ground black sesame to 200ml of milk and drink this weekly.
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.
BRAIN TONIC SOUP
(makes three servings)
This soup is brewed with American ginseng, which is believed to nourish the lungs and stomach and boost energy, and fu ling (poria cocos mushroom), believed to be beneficial for sleep.
- 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 mushroom)
- 3g Sichuan lovage
- 15g wolfberries
- 1 tsp salt
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 pot, bring 3.5 litres of water to a boil.
3. Place the blanched chicken in it.
4. Add the walnuts, American ginseng, tian ma, fu ling and Sichuan 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 the wolfberries and season with salt.
8. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
9. Serve hot.