Brain Food: Awaken Your Senses With Texture and Spice

Engaging your senses more fully is a great way to take everyday activities and turn them into brain healthy activities.   Adding textures, varying flavors, and adding a bit of spice to your diet may just do the trick.Naked carrot cake on steroids

Here is a recipe for carrot cake I created with my son that starts with a plain old box cake mix and ends in a masterpiece of flavors, textures, and brain healthy nutrition.   Enjoy!

Brainy Carrot Cake

 1 box Carrot Cake mix (I use whatever brand is on sale)
1 pound of carrots, washed with the ends removed and grated
1 egg
¼ cup dried blueberries
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup dried apricots, chopped finely
1 full package of Sunkist dried fruit bits
2 oz pistachios
4 oz sunflower seeds (unsalted)
1 ½ cups of apple sauce (or a bit less to have a thick but smooth consistency)
4 shakes (about 1/4 tsp) pumpkin pie spice
4 shakes (about 1/4 tsp) cinnamon
2 shakes (about 1/8 tsp) nutmeg
2 shakes (about 1/8 tsp) ginger
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

Break carrots in smaller pieces (about 2” long) and put in the food processor or heavy duty blender.   Pulse until you have small pieces.   It is better to have larger pieces of carrot than turn the carrots into mush.   Combine carrots, cake mix, and egg in a large mixing bowl.   Add in dried fruit, pistachios, and sunflower seeds.    Gradually add the applesauce to the mixture until you get a thick but smooth batter.  Should be close to 1 ½ cups but the amount will vary slightly.

Pour into greased baking dishes – the more interesting the vessel the better.   Once you start to smell the cakes baking (time will depend on baking vessel used), look at them to see if the top is starting to brown.  Once the top of the cakes begin to brown, stick a fork in the center (thickest part) of the cake to test doneness.   Bake until you can stick a fork in the cake and the tines come out with no wet batter on them.

You may frost them or add a bit of whipped cream for added flavor and a textural change but I love these “naked”!

Spice up your diet, add some textures, and awaken your senses to activate your brain and engage more fully in the experience of food!



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