Carmen Miller
 

Most of us would answer that eating smart means eating healthy -- avoiding too much sugar and fat, eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We're counting calories and carbs, buying organic, cooking low-fat, going meatless, all in the name of physical health and fitness. But in our quest for the body, have we forgotten about the brain?

We all know what to eat before the 5k, 10k, "Half," or full Marathon. But how would you fuel up for a comparable mental marathon? Complementing our newfound interest in cognitive function and health, recent studies have focused on foods that energize, boost, grow, or simply preserve, our brains, which, it turns out, are just as in need of nourishment as our bodies.

Salmon is the perfect food for nourishing both the body and the brain. Available year-round, and easy to prepare, it's loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve cholesterol levels, reduce stiffness and joint pain, and improve memory and cognitive function. And very recent studies show that these fatty acids also help with the development of brain networks. Eat smart, and your brain won't forget it.

Mustard-Crusted Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 salmon filets, 1 1/2-2 pounds total

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season both sides of the salmon filets generously with salt and pepper. Brush the salmon filets with the Dijon mustard, and sprinkle with the bread crumbs, pressing to adhere to the fish. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the fish filets, mustard side down, until a nice crust is formed, about 2 minutes. Turn the filets over, sear for 1 more minute, and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast until the fish is just cooked through, about 10 minutes.