Beautiful Minds Brain Health Blog

Challenge yourself: 5 ways to bring more art into your life

There are benefits to doing art for people of all ages. For those of us in the second half of life, art can be a compelling option for engaging your mind, one of the four dimensions of brain health ( Whether you are a dedicated knitter, an experienced painter or a total newbie who has no idea where to start, there are some many ways to bring more art into your life.

2014 Beautiful Minds finalist Carol Siegel

2014 Beautiful Minds finalist Carol Siegel

Here are a few ideas to get your started or to expand your repertoire:

  • Make a memory book: A book, or a box, filled with memories can be an incredibly satisfying project to take on. The look, layout and what memories you choose to preserve are entirely up to you. An added bonus will be the great feelings evoked by looking back on important times in your life.
  • Give the gift of art: Receiving handmade gifts is such a thrill, why not return the favor for a loved one? Think of useful, pretty, or fun items – like jewelry, candles or puppets (grandkids would love this one!). Seek out an online tutorial or classes held in your community.
  • Collage your feelings: A popular art therapy technique, making a collage is a great way to articulate your feelings. Maybe you have a goal you want to achieve this year, are celebrating a family milestone or grappling with a stressful situation – grab the scissors and start cutting and gluing images that fit your feelings. Finally, something to do with your stack of old magazines.
  • Get messy: art doesn’t always have to be sophisticated or refined, or even particularly skilled. You may not be able to paint a photo-realistic seascape, but you can definitely bring (finger) paint to paper. Why leave the fun, messy stuff to the pre-school set? Put down a tablecloth, throw on some old clothes and have fun!

We want to hear from you: how do you bring art into your life?




Eat Right: Spicy Thai ‘em Up Sweet Potato Soup

Posted in The Nourished Mind by beautifulmindsdha on March 2, 2015
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This warming, spicy soup,from Eat Your Way to Sexy by Elizabeth Somer, features nutritional powerhouse sweet potatoes, which contain vitamins B6, C and D and iron, magnesium, potassium and carotenoids.

  • UntitledIngredients:
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 cup chopped yellow onion
    10 cups sweet potato (peeled and cubed, approximately 3 1 /2 to 4 pounds of whole potato)
    2 minced garlic clove
    1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
    1/3 cup spicy mango chutney
    3 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
    2 tablespoons red curry paste
    1/3 cup vermouth
    6 cups chicken broth
    1 8-ounce baker potato, peeled and cubed
    ½ cup lite coconut milk
    ½ cup fat-free evaporated milk
    1 tablespoon honey
    juice and zest from one lime
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts
    2 tablespoons chopped cilantro


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.Add onion and sauté, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.
  2. Add sweet potato, turn up heat to medium-high, and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, ginger, chutney, peanut butter, and curry paste, and stir to thoroughly coat sweet potatoes.
  4. Add vermouth, stir, and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, approximately 5 minutes.
  5. Add broth and potato, bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until potatoes begin to break apart, approximately 30 minutes.
  6. Add lime juice and zest
  7. Transfer soup to food processor or blender and puree.
  8. Return to saucepan; add coconut milk, evaporated milk, and honey.
  9. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with peanuts and cilantro.

Makes 6 servings (approximately 2 cups each)

Nutrition Analysis: 464 Calories, 20 % fat (10 g, 2.6 g saturated), 67 % carbs (77. g), 13 % protein (15.1 g), 9 g fiber, 863 mg sodium.


Get Moving: Indoor Exercise Ideas

Posted in The Physically Active Mind by beautifulmindsdha on February 22, 2015
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Some years, winter can seem endless. Between the cold temperatures, the early sundowns and (depending on where you live) the snow, it can be tempting to hide your sneakers in the back of the closet and vow to get back to a routine come spring.

Don’t give into temptation! While it seems counterintuitive, getting up and moving will not only make you feel better, it will give your more energy. So get off the couch and try one of these indoor exercise activities this winter:

  • 394920_471649996204165_1037458331_nBowling: According to The Bowling Foundation, more than 25 percent of Americans bowl each year. There is a reason this sport remains popular – it’s fun! In addition to the health benefits, there is the added bonus of social interaction. Research seniors bowling leagues in your area, or make your own.
  • Swimming: The best part of indoor swimming pools? They are warm year-round. Swimming is a great way to get cardiovascular exercise that is gentle on your joints. In addition to laps, many pools offer classes like Aquafit or even AquaSpin, where you can ride a stationary bike in the water.
  • Video games: To cold to venture outdoors, even to the car? Get fit in your living room. Many video game consoles, like Playstation and Xbox, offer fitness games along with sports games like tennis and golf. Improve your swing before spring!
  • Mall Walks: Get the stimulation and people-watching of a neighbourhood stroll while enjoying the temperate environment at your local shopping mall. Check to see if your mall has a walking program – some open the doors early in the morning for walkers and offer group walking programs.
  • Dance class: Shake off the winter blahs by taking a fun dance class. You can find a class that matches your interest and skill level – from ballroom dancing to Zumba to hip hop. An added health benefit: studies have shown that dancing can improve balance and walking speed and may decrease risks for falling.

What’s your favorite way to get active in winter?

Throw Out Your Resolutions

UntitledWe are more than a month into the new year, so how are you doing with those resolutions?

If you’re struggling to keep up with your 2015 goal, you’re not alone. “So many of us look to the start of a new year to make big changes,” says Elizabeth Somer, nutritionist and author of ‘Eat Your Way To Happiness’. “Our intentions are great – we want to lose weight, be healthier, start a gym routine – but our goals are lofty and we get discouraged when we don’t reach them quickly enough.”

This year, why not drop the resolutions and adopt a year-round feel-good approach? By focusing on the good and making gradual changes in areas where you are unsatisfied you’re more likely to feel that sense of accomplishment. Here are a few ways to feel good in 2015:

  • Take stock: Instead of looking at what you need to be happier, appreciate all the good things you already have in your life. Give yourself a pat on the back for all of your accomplishments, big and small, from having a great relationship with your kids to cooking an excellent signature dish. For times when you need a nudge to remember your successes, try writing it down in a journal.
  • Eat Breakfast: A simple goal, but a worthy one. The benefits of breakfast are myriad  – starting your day with a healthy meal can give your energy, improve your ability to concentrate and even help you maintain a healthy weight. No time to sit down for scrambled eggs? Try something you can take on the go, like a smoothie. Even leftovers from last night’s dinner can work (don’t be afraid of veggies for breakfast!).
  • Supplement: While we’re on the topic of nutrition, an important goal is to get enough of the essential vitamins and nutrients that you need. Eating the right foods is important, but studies show that many of us aren’t hitting the nutritional mark with diet alone. Learn more about essential nutrients here: and talk to your medical professional to determine what supplements are best for you.
  • Try something new: Anything that you haven’t done before counts for this one. Pilates, a language class, a new recipe, organizing a community event. Challenge yourself and you might find something you love doing.
  • Reach out: It can be too easy to stay in and hibernate during the long winter, but social connection is a key element for overall health. Make a point to spend time with loved ones, reconnect with long-lost friends or meet new people in your community. Bonus – making plans with other people will actually force you to get out and be active.

The Role of Nutrition in Heart Health (Infographic)

Posted in The Nourished Mind by beautifulmindsdha on December 28, 2014
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83 Million Americans are living with heart disease or the after-effects of stroke. The numbers are scary, but we can do our part to help improve them by making simple lifestyle changes and focusing on heart-healthy nutrition – specifically omega-3 fatty acids, oat beta-glucan and vitamin D.

Click on the infographic below to expand it and read more about heart health and nutrition. For more information, visit

Heart Health Info Graphic_FINAL

A Heart-Healthy Message from Santa and Mrs. Claus

Posted in The Nourished Mind by beautifulmindsdha on December 22, 2014
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Two of the most beloved holiday icons are leveraging their celebrity this season to bring attention to heart disease – the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. Mrs. Claus is inviting American families to join her in making the same, heart-healthy lifestyle changes she and Santa are taking on this year to raise awareness for nutrition’s role in heart health.

Find out more and hear Mrs. Claus’ important message from her and Santa here: www.clausnutrition.comee59ef9a-1242-4a04-af2b-8b9ecf947716.HR

Challenge your brain: Online Brain Teasers

Posted in Uncategorized by beautifulmindsdha on November 4, 2014

These days, we can do just about anything online. Work, catch up with friends, buy gifts and household items, read the news and play games. Playing games may sound frivolous, but one study found that video games may help maintain brain health in seniors.

Not into video games? You can still challenge your brain online with countless websites featuring brain teasers, logic puzzles and riddles. Here are five of our favorites:

Do you have a favorite website for challenging your brain? Share it in the comments!

Social Connection: Fall Community Classes

Posted in Uncategorized by beautifulmindsdha on October 22, 2014


As summer turns to fall, the days get shorter, people refocus on school and work and many of us find our social calendars a little emptier. Our suggestion for keeping your social life, well, social? Take a class.

Continuing education classes are everywhere. Check out the library, community center, senior center and even the grocery store for classes being offered this fall. Enhance your skills for an existing passion, like cooking or computer programming, or step out of your comfort zone and try something new, like knitting or tae kwon do.

The wonderful thing about taking a class – an in-person class, online doesn’t count! – is that you’ll connect with other people with similar interests. Whether you take the friendship outside of the classroom or simply enjoy the time learning together, the social interaction is extremely valuable to your brain health.

Research shows that regular social activity promotes creation of new brain cells. So stimulate your brain this fall by signing up for a class or two.

What community classes do you attend?

Eat Right: Fall Romance Salad

Posted in The Nourished Mind by beautifulmindsdha on October 14, 2014

Plan a romantic dinner for two, featuring with this salad recipe from Elizabeth Somer’s Eat Your Way to Sexy. “This salad features pomegranate, the symbol for longevity, immortality and abundance in China and fertility in Greece,” says Elizabeth. “Pomegranates are rich in potassium, vitamin C, fiber, B vitamins and phytonutrients. Feeding your body and brain with nutrient foods – now that is sexy!”

Fall Romance Salad (from Eat Your Way to Sexy by Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R.D.)


2 1/3 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar (preferably one infused with pomegranate)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 /2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
salt to taste
20 ounces baby greens, such as Fresh Express Tender Ruby Reds
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cups toasted walnut pieces
  • 5 tangerines or small mandarin oranges, peeled, sectioned, the pith removed, and cut in half
1 1 /2 cups pomegranate seeds

1. In a medium, non-stick saucepan, bring juice to a gentle boil and simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup, approximately 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. While still warm, add thyme. When cool, add vinegar, oil, pepper, and salt.
2. In a large bowl, place lettuce. Top with onion, parsley, walnuts, orange pieces, and finally pomegranate seeds. When ready to serve, gently and thoroughly toss with dressing. Makes 8 servings.

Get Moving: Fall Exercise Ideas

Posted in The Physically Active Mind,Uncategorized by beautifulmindsdha on October 8, 2014
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Fall is the perfect time to get active outdoors; not too hot and not too cold, the weather is just right. Here are five ideas for making exercise fun this autumn:

  • Leaf Walk or Jog: The changing colors of fall foliage provide gorgeous scenery for a brisk stroll or jog. Check out a local park, trail or your own tree-lined neighbourhood.
  • Sign up for an outdoor boot camp: Challenge yourself with a new workout in a group setting. You’ll gain benefits from both the exercise and the social interaction.
  • Yardwork: Raking leaves, winterizing your garden – it all counts as physical activity! Make it fun by listening to up-tempo music that will inspire you to work to the beat.
  • Farmer’s Market: Make a Saturday morning date with a friend to visit a farmer’s market. Enjoy catching up while getting your body moving and exploring the harvest bounty.
  • Limber up: Fall is a great time to take your yoga, pilates or tai chiworkout outdoors. Breathe in the crisp air, relax your mind and stretch your body.


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