A close up of a plate of food with broccoli
November 13, 2023
A close up of a plate of food with broccoli

Brain Healthy Ingredients: Chicken, Cruciferous vegetables & dark leafy greens, Garlic, Legumes, Nuts

Serves: 6

Foods with brain-boosting properties abound in this recipe. Garbanzos are a good source of folic acid, which has been shown to protect fetal brain development, improve memory performance, and may even help ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Onions are rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that may protect against certain types of stroke. Chicken is rich in choline, an essential building block in acetycholine, a memory-forming brain chemical. Spinach, garlic, and peppers are also foods that are likely as good for your brain as they are for your body!

For maximum flavor, toast nuts before using. To do this, spread the pecans in a small baking pan and bake in a preheated 325 degree F oven until very lightly browned and fragrant, 7 to 10 minutes. When cool, chop as desired.


  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 2 bunches (about 12 cups) of spinach, washed and trimmed
  • 2 onions, sliced, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 15½-oz can garbanzo beans, with liquid
  • 2 Tbsps pecans
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 ½ tsps cumin, divided
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
  • 2 Tbsps chopped cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • 6 10-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella (optional) Salt and pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil for sautéing


  1. Char whole poblano peppers under broiler until skin is blackened. Remove from broiler and put in sealed plastic zip bag. Let sit for 15 minutes, then peel, seed, and cut peppers into 1/2-inch strips. Set aside.
  2. Boil water in a large pot. Add spinach and blanch for 30-60 seconds in boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Let cool. Squeeze out excess water and set aside.
  3. Heat a bit of oil in a pan and sauté 1 cup of onions until golden, 5-10 minutes. Add half of the minced garlic and cook 1 more minute.
  4. Add half of the poblano pepper strips and all of the spinach to the pan. Saute for 1-2 minutes to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Place garbanzo beans and liquid in a blender. Add pecans, poblano-onion-spinach mixture, chicken broth, ¼ tsp cumin, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth. Set sauce aside.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. While oven is heating, grill chicken breasts approximately 4 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove from grill, shred chicken with a fork, and set aside.
  7. While chicken is grilling, sauté remaining cup of onions in a bit of oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of the minced garlic and cook 1 minute. Add mushrooms and sauté until the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat.
  8. Add remaining poblano pepper strips, red bell pepper strips, shredded chicken breast, remaining teaspoon of cumin, and chopped cilantro to onion-mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Working one tortilla at a time, heat a tortilla in the microwave for 15 seconds to soften. Place one-sixth of the filling in the center of the tortilla and top with ¼ cup of sauce. Fold in both sides of the tortilla to enclose the filling, and place seam-side down in an individual-serving-size oval gratin dish. (Alternatively, place all six wrapped tortillas in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.)
  10. Top each tortilla with ½ cup of sauce. Place dishes or baking pan in the preheated oven and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and top each enchilada with ¼ cup shredded mozzarella (optional) and garnish with cilantro before serving.