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Boost Your Brainpower Spinach, Quinoa and Berry Salad

This post is sponsored by Dole Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Dole provided me with compensation for my time and recipe development. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are mine.

March 16-22 is Brain Awareness Week. This annual event is a global celebration of the brain that brings attention to brain science advances and promotes brain research funding. Brain health is something that is important to me as I have a family history of aneurysms and Alzheimer’s disease. To do my part to promote Brain Awareness Week, I am partnering with Dole fruits and vegetables to bring you a recipe that promotes brain health along with a Brain Awareness Giveaway so be sure to read to the end!

When you feed your body you are feeding your brain as well. Your brain is a very complex organ that does a tremendous amount of really amazing work for our bodies. It’s important to provide the brain with the nutrition it needs to operate a peak performance.

Dole Salad Ingredients

Research shows that your brain consumes around 20% of your bodies energy supply so I created a salad that full of ingredients to power your brain.

Brain Food Salad

  • Dole Baby Spinach – Spinach is packed with nutrients that prevent dementia like folate, vitamin E, and vitamin K. (source)
  • Dole Strawberries and Blueberries – It’s no secret that blueberries are powerful anti-oxidants but they’re especially good for your brain! A study by Harvard researchers found that a high intake of flavonoid-rich berries, such as strawberries and blueberries, over time, can delay memory decline in older women by two and a half years. (source)
  • Avocados – Avocados are full of “good fats” that contribute to healthy blood flow and lower blood pressure, both of which lead to a healthier brain. (source)
  • Pecans – These tree nuts are high in omega-3s, which are important for brain health. Pecans are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut, and are ranked by the USDA among the top 15 foods with the highest antioxidant capacity. (source)
  • Quinoa – This super seed contains iron which helps keep red blood cells healthy. Iron carries oxygen to blood cells and to muscles and increases brain function because the brain takes in 20% of our blood oxygen. (source)

Dole Quinoa Salad

I tossed the ingredients together with a light lemon vinaigrette for a healthy and delicious brain boosting lunch!

Boost Your Brainpower Spinach, Quinoa and Berry Salad
(Recipe developed by Jen DeCurtins, Peanut Butter Runner)


1 bag Dole Baby Spinach
1 cup Dole Strawberries, sliced
1 cup Dole Blueberries
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 avocado, diced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste


In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, honey and olive oil. Set aside. Place spinach in a large bowl and top with strawberries, blueberries, pecans, quinoa and avocado. Drizzle with the lemon vinaigrette and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt.

Yield: 4 servings

Looking for more brain healthy recipes? Check out these two delicious recipes from Dole!


Green Pancakes with Pear-Lime Relish

Berry Spinach Salad 1000x383

Berry Spinach Salad

Now for a Brain Awareness Giveaway from Dole! 

– Dole Yoga Mat & Carrying Case
– Dole Tumbler
– Dole Headphones
– (3) Dole Salad
– “MINDfull: Over 100 Delicious Recipes for Better Brain Health” Cookbook by Carol Greenwood, Ph.D.

If you’d like to be entered for a chance to win leave a comment answering one of the following questions: What are your favorite ways to take care of your brain? Any favorite brain-boosting foods? 

U.S. residents only. One entry per person. Contest open until Friday, March 20 at midnight EST.

{ 72 comments… add one }
  • Taca @ A Side Of Dessert March 16, 2015, 5:05 pm

    Love, love loveeee this recipe! I also have a quick question! I’m sure you’ve mentioned it before but where do you get your white dishes from! I love the touch of detail on them. They’re stunning!

  • Katie March 16, 2015, 5:26 pm

    My favorite fruit is the blueberry! I am glad to hear it is so good for my brain! We grow black raspberries on our farm and I always say it is to fund our purchases of blueberries. I bought around 50 quarts last year, froze them, and used them all winter long for cooking and baking.

  • Shannon March 16, 2015, 5:29 pm

    I love playing memory games to keep my brain healthy and functioning well. I also love berries for their brain health benefits! Love your recipe

  • Laura March 16, 2015, 5:32 pm

    I take care of my brain by doing crossword puzzles!

  • Tera March 16, 2015, 5:54 pm

    I try to eat berries every day! I love avocado as well 🙂

  • Natalie March 16, 2015, 6:43 pm

    My favorite food is the blueberry and I have them in smoothies every morning!

  • jeanne March 16, 2015, 6:59 pm

    I would have to say avocados! They never get old!

  • Pam March 16, 2015, 7:09 pm

    Blueberries & Spinach in my smoothie or juice daily
    Yoga daily

  • Kate March 16, 2015, 7:20 pm

    This might sound weird, but I try to “exercise” my brain on a regular basis. If I have a question in the back of my mind about something I’m conversing about, or if I’m wondering something random, I ALWAYS make it a point to find the answer. Enter: the smartphone/Google machine. When I figure out the answer to what I’m wondering, I commit it to memory so that I never have to wonder about it again. I feel like this is a way to continually educate myself and keep my brain active.

  • courtney d March 16, 2015, 7:34 pm

    My favorite brain boosting food is a handful of walnuts in my morning oatmeal.

  • Cassie March 16, 2015, 7:47 pm

    Lol, I have a test coming up so this is perfect!

  • Veronica K March 16, 2015, 8:39 pm

    I love blueberries!

  • Christina C March 16, 2015, 8:41 pm


  • Cara March 16, 2015, 8:43 pm

    My favorite way to take care of my brain is to challenge it with puzzles (crosswords are my fav) and learning new skills/facts/etc. Working toward my MBA is certainly keeping my brain sharp 😉

  • Lauren S March 16, 2015, 9:03 pm

    I like to keep my mind sharp by reading and learning.

  • kulana granson March 16, 2015, 9:29 pm

    My favorite brain boosting food is avocado. My coworkers and I eat a small one everyday. It seems to help me function better after a crazy morning and last until well after work and hot yoga.

  • Tina March 16, 2015, 9:30 pm

    I have blueberries in in some form every day – in smoothies, with yogurt, or with oatmeal!

  • Emily March 16, 2015, 9:50 pm

    I love blueberries for brain power. And now I’m glad to know that my avocado toast addiction has another benefit!

  • Janelle March 16, 2015, 10:24 pm

    Omega-3 supplement make my brain happy!

  • Laura M. March 16, 2015, 10:58 pm

    I love making smoothies!

  • Miley March 16, 2015, 11:06 pm

    Awesome post, Jen! My favorite way to keep my brain healthy (besides nutrition) is getting an adequate amount of sleep each night. I definitely suffer from fuzzy brain if I get anything less than eight! My favorite brain food is definitely berries. With Summer right around the corner I’m already dreaming about brain boosting berries! 🙂

  • Katie M March 16, 2015, 11:07 pm

    Eating salads and berries (strawberry season is almost here!!!!) boosts my brain power!

  • kaitlyn March 16, 2015, 11:22 pm

    favorite brain boosting food is definitely avocados– especially in salads! I also try and take care of my brain by getting enough sleep (always a struggle) & exercising!

  • Catherine March 16, 2015, 11:31 pm

    My favorite ways to take care of my brain are to make sure I drink plenty of water throughout the day and to make sure I get at least 7 hours of sleep. I try to eat plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables as well. Finding ways to relax when I have had a stressful day are important too, whether that’s a quick walk with my dog outside or relaxing with my husband over a glass of wine.

  • candace c March 16, 2015, 11:43 pm

    love berries and spinach!

  • Kim n March 16, 2015, 11:49 pm

    I love love love blueberries. I eat them everyday in my oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, pancakes, and muffins. It’s my absolute favorite fruit add in

  • Andrea March 17, 2015, 3:13 am

    I take care of my brain by eating a diet full of fresh, whole foods, physical exercise and “mental” exercise like reading or playing games, my favorite is scattegories!

  • Tony March 17, 2015, 5:12 am

    This looks delicious! I’ve recently started cooking and using quinoa in several recipes and have a fridge full of spinach and blueberries. All I need is a few more ingredients and ready to supercharge my brain. Trust me I need all the help I can get! 🙂

  • Keri March 17, 2015, 5:21 am

    I take care of my brain by reading and doing puzzles. I also make sure to always have either blueberries or strawberries in my fridge!

  • Lauren March 17, 2015, 5:40 am

    I try to avoid processed foods and focus on fresh fruits and vegetables… along with getting enough water and a good nights sleep

  • Becca March 17, 2015, 6:09 am

    i love avocados for boosting my brain power!

  • Vangie K. March 17, 2015, 6:37 am

    I love taking care of my brain by eating berries and healthy fats. Thanks for the giveaway:)

  • Stephanie March 17, 2015, 8:14 am

    I like to read to boost my brain!

  • ali March 17, 2015, 8:25 am

    avocados and sardines…. two of my favorites!

  • Lisa diesel March 17, 2015, 8:35 am

    Love pecans and blueberries. I have a handful of each on my morning cereal!

  • Rebekah March 17, 2015, 8:44 am

    I love sunflower seeds, I put them on everything! Cottage cheese, avacados, and almost all of my salads!

  • Lindsey March 17, 2015, 8:55 am

    blueberries with almond butter!

  • Courtney P March 17, 2015, 9:00 am

    Favorite brain foods of blueberries, strawberries and pecans on a spinach salad! 🙂

  • Angie Ouhl March 17, 2015, 9:00 am

    My favorite brain boosting food is salmon!

  • Elizabeth March 17, 2015, 10:05 am

    Eating a filling and nutritional breakfast each day! It’s great for your brain!

  • Malory March 17, 2015, 10:19 am

    My favorite way to take care of my brain is getting enough sleep!!

  • Chelsea March 17, 2015, 10:31 am

    I take care of my brain by reading for pleasure. My favorite brain food has to be blackberries. I can eat the whole container in one sitting.

    I need to try quinoa in my salad! It looks so good.

  • Grace Jemison March 17, 2015, 11:19 am

    Berries, dark chocolate and lots of reading and writing for classes!

  • Alicia Lokken March 17, 2015, 11:23 am

    My favorite brain boosting food would be fish! Love blueberries in flax muffins 🙂

  • DkotaGirl March 17, 2015, 11:30 am

    I take care of my brain by getting adequate sleep, eating fresh, whole foods and wearing a helmet when I bike 😉

  • ree March 17, 2015, 11:47 am

    I like to take care of my brain by eating lots of produce.

  • Hannah March 17, 2015, 12:00 pm

    Fresh fish, sautéed or baked, is probably my number one brain food. That, coupled with always asking questions (about EVERYTHING :)), has kept my brain young!

  • Ella March 17, 2015, 12:09 pm

    I read daily to keep my brain healthy and mind open! I also love blueberries and avocados to boost my brain!

  • Tracy March 17, 2015, 12:58 pm

    I take care of my brain by giving it a workout…reading, learning and doing brain puzzles!

  • Kristen B March 17, 2015, 12:59 pm

    I love to take care of my brain by practicing mindfulness + gratitude through yoga and meditation. Avocados help too 🙂

  • Shannan March 17, 2015, 1:00 pm

    I take care of my brain by eating lots of berries.

  • Julie March 17, 2015, 1:18 pm

    I try to get plenty of sleep & exercise. I also take fish oil pills daily.

  • Amanda P March 17, 2015, 2:22 pm

    I read every night and love trivia games. I also eat chia or flax seeds daily.

  • amy March 17, 2015, 2:27 pm

    I like to start my day with spinach in my smoothie.

  • Kerry March 17, 2015, 2:48 pm

    Salmon is definitely my fav brain food. Avocado comes in a close second, though — and my 13-month-old daughter would have to agree!

  • Amy March 17, 2015, 4:48 pm

    Total nerd alert, but I keep my brain healthy by challenging it-my husband and I DVR Jeopardy every day!

  • Sarah F March 17, 2015, 4:53 pm

    Sometimes I feel like being a stay-at-home mom is killing my brain, but then I realized I have to interpret a foreign language (toddlerese) and pull context from thin air all day, every day. That’s definitely a brain workout. I also read books and play the piano.

  • lisa March 17, 2015, 6:19 pm

    I eat lots of salmon and spinach. But I have been thinking of getting a brain supplement. But i have no idea what to get. And when i Google it I have no idea if the supplements work or if it’s a scam. I’m very scared of getting Alzheimer’s and I’m scared that I am showing signs of early Alzheimer’s.

    There are times when I won’t talk or join in on a conversation because I can’t think of a word or what I want to say. And it’s not like it comes to me in a few minutes. It doesn’t come to me at all unless i ask someone what it is. For example, I was in Wal-Mart’s parking lot and looked at this car. And I knew what it was but I couldn’t think of what kind of car it was. Finally after three hours I texted my 20 year old son and asked him what car did he say he will never buy. He said minivan! I was looking at a minivan and couldn’t remember what it was called. That’s only one example. Anyways, I’m 47 and this bothers me. I’m thinking of getting a Mri but I need to be prepared for whatever it says. Right now i almost don’t want to know.

    If anyone has any suggestions for a brain health supplement please let me know. Thanks!

  • Liz March 17, 2015, 6:29 pm

    My favorite brain boosting food would definitely be avocados! I love them on everything

  • Liz March 17, 2015, 6:40 pm

    I do little brain games using the app Elevate when I have 5 extra minutes in my day. Luminosity is also a fav.

  • Courtney Sams March 17, 2015, 8:18 pm

    I play music and do crossword puzzles to keep my brain healthy! My favorite brain boosting food are berries, especially blueberries. So yummy 🙂 the salad looks great! Can’t wait to try. Your recipes are always fantastic, I love a cook I can trust! Thank you!

  • Bree March 17, 2015, 8:38 pm

    Avocados are always my favorite brain food!

  • marie March 19, 2015, 6:43 am

    Blueberries are my favorite brain-boosting foods.

  • Erin March 20, 2015, 4:46 pm


  • Gabbie March 20, 2015, 5:04 pm

    I read every day during my lunch at work. I feel that it keeps my brain sharp and helps me remove myself from everyday stresses in the office.

  • Nancy L March 20, 2015, 6:07 pm

    I love walnuts. Out of the shell, they even look like the human brain! Nature’s/God’s way of giving us a hint?

  • Nancy L March 20, 2015, 6:13 pm

    I love to eat walnuts for brain health. Out of its shell, the whole nut even looks like the human brain! Nature’s/God’s little hint for us, perhaps?

  • Carolyn March 20, 2015, 6:54 pm

    My favorite way to take care of my brain is getting 8 hours of sleep ever night. My favorite brain boosting foods are definitely chia seeds!

  • Karen March 20, 2015, 7:56 pm

    I do a crossword puzzle every day to help my brain 🙂

  • Ally March 20, 2015, 8:47 pm

    Blueberries are my favorite “brain food” and my favorite way to take care of my brain is to constantly challenge it, but also know when I need to take a step back and relax, be it yoga, a run, or simply sitting on the couch doing nothing.

  • Jackie March 20, 2015, 11:29 pm

    I’ve been trying to incorporate walnuts into my diet-slipping them into salad or homemade trail mixes as snacks b/c I know they’re great for brain health. I’m not a huge blueberry fan, but try to sneak them into smoothies to get their benefit without too much of the taste!

  • Maryz March 21, 2015, 10:14 am

    I love spinach and throw it in my morning smoothie! Love this recipe!

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