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Genius Kitchen: Over 100 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Make Your Brain Sharp

Genius Kitchen: Over 100 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Make Your Brain Sharp PDF

Author: Max Lugavere

Publisher: Harper Wave


Publish Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN-10: 006302294X

Pages: 320

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

In 2010, my mother, Kathy, began to complain of brain fog. I didn’t think it was a big deal; she was fifty-eight, and I assumed her troubles were just a natural part of getting older. Many trips to many doctors’ offices later, we found out what was really going on: the beginnings of a rare form of dementia. It was incurable, progressive, and with symptoms akin to having both Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease at once.

In the months that followed, my mom began struggling to find her words or complete her thoughts. This wasn’t easy for a woman who always had something to say. Eventually, even basic tasks became a challenge. One night she got trapped in the bathroom because she’d forgotten how to use the door handle. A knot would form in my stomach every time I’d see her struggle.

One thing my mother always loved was food, and she relished cooking for the family, but her growing impairment soon made ordinary tasks like using a knife or tending to an open flame dangerous. That’s when I started to cook with her. She got to continue doing what she loved, and it helped make things feel normal when they were anything but.

A lifelong New Yorker and bon vivant, Mom also loved going out to eat, but her increasing fatigue made that hard as well. Still, I always tried to get her out of the house to have some fun. On one particular late summer night, we had gone to dinner at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants. It was busy but not loud, and the waitstaff was welcoming and kind to my mom.

I had spent the past few years studying nutrition, and I’d seize any opportunity to share my love for healthy eating with my mom—even when dining out. Whether or not she cared—I’d get an eye roll regardless—my mom was always happy to indulge me as we ate. On this night, however, something was off. She was quiet and had no appetite. In fact, she didn’t eat a thing. I was worried.

The next day, I did what I had become so accustomed to doing: I took her to her doctor. Standing with her in the waiting room, I became suddenly aware of how decrepit she had gotten. She barely spoke and struggled to hold the saliva in her mouth. I took a tissue from the reception desk and gently wiped her lips. I held her hand as we walked into the doctor’s office. He performed a routine exam and found nothing out of the ordinary.

Some days later, I was in Los Angeles for work when my brother called me. My mother’s condition worsened while I was away, and he had taken her to the emergency room. Scared that something serious was in motion, I flew home and joined them, more anxious than I could ever remember being. I arrived at the hospital just as they had completed an MRI of her abdomen. The attending physicians gathered around me and my two brothers, who had left work early to be there.

Pancreatic cancer, they said.

As the doctors gave us the prognosis, I was in disbelief. How could this be? We—she—had already been through so much.

The following months were filled with every emotion a person can have: stress, anger, frustration, guilt, and, yes, even joy. Each moment with my mom during those last few months was at once beautiful and sad. We would try to feed her nourishing foods with what little appetite she had, but in the end, we sought to bring her joy with her favorite treats: strawberry shortcake pastries from Veniero’s, a local New York baker.

When she could no longer feed herself, my brothers and I would each take turns, grateful for those remaining moments with her.


When my mom first became sick, I set out to learn as much as I could about the role food plays in our health. Since then, I’ve been invited to share my findings at conferences in my home country and abroad. I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to academic literature as well as teach healthcare professionals (including doctors!) about nutrition.1 And I’ve published two books, Genius Foods and The Genius Life, which thousands around the world have used to achieve greater health and vitality.

I discovered that many of the chronic diseases people struggle with today—type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and dementia—begin years, if not decades, before signs and symptoms. In that time, what we eat (and how we live our lives) can influence our fate. But I also learned that food is a profound gift. In our busy world as we rush from obligation to obligation, we often forget to slow down and appreciate the meal in front of us. In this book, I will celebrate the act of eating in the hope that it brings joy and good health to your life.

My mother raised me to appreciate a wide variety of flavors. She enjoyed simple, no-frills cooking, but she also loved exposing me to new and daring cuisines from all over the world. On top of that, I’ve lived in New York, Miami (where I attended college), and Los Angeles, three of the world’s great cultural melting pots. As a result, my recipes are designed to make a statement to your taste buds with bold and exciting, internationally influenced flavors and textures.

Though I began to cook when my mother could no longer cook herself, I realized that culinary literacy (like health literacy) had become yet another aspect of life that we had outsourced. I became passionate about creating healthy food that is delicious and easy to make, and have since had the privilege to learn from chefs all around the world, some of whom I’ve interviewed on my podcast, The Genius Life. And, having a teacher like my mom didn’t hurt, either.

Most of my recipes will include low-starch vegetables, but I’ve also made use of some of my favorite tubers, like sweet potatoes, and even the occasional legume (white beans, for example). My dishes are lower in carbohydrates than more “mainstream” cookbooks, while offering you the freedom to increase or decrease the carbohydrate content to suit your needs. (When it comes to eating for good health, there is no “one-size-fits-all” diet.) All are nutrient-dense, gluten-free, and devoid of empty calories from added sugars and refined grains.

You’ll also see me place the focus on nutrients like protein and fiber, important components of healthy, nourishing food. Eating like a “genius” means allowing your hunger mechanisms to naturally calibrate so that you feel genuinely satisfied once you’ve had enough. When you eat foods that are truly good for your body, they satiate innate hunger mechanisms in a way that fast food and packaged snacks just can’t—and you’ll discover why in the pages to come.

I wrote this book to be not just your new favorite cookbook, but a resource for your kitchen. In Part One, I’m going to do a deep dive into the science of healthy eating, breaking apart individual food components including cooking oils, dairy, fish, eggs, and even salt so that you can know how to leverage each food type for your best health yet. Then I’ll go into my methodology for optimal cooking practices, as well as how to optimize your digestion. Part Two is where you’ll find my recipes—a blend of main dishes, smaller dishes, and desserts.

My hope is that by reading this book—and enjoying my dishes with your friends and loved ones—you’ll see food in a new way; able to bring joy and pleasure into your life without guilt. And you’ll discover that you can eat foods that help you get fit and healthy without feeling like you’re compromising on taste or giving up your favorite foods to do so.

Food is an intrinsic part of who we are; it is how we communicate, experience pleasure, show love and affection, bond with friends, and nourish ourselves. As I learned with my mom, our ability to appreciate food doesn’t last forever. That’s why each mouthful should be a celebration, and I’m grateful you’ve chosen to celebrate with me. Now let’s get cooking.



Title Page



Part One: How to Eat Like a Genius

Chapter 1: Stocking Your Genius Kitchen

The Vinny Gambini

Get Fizzy Wit’ It Sugar-Free Soda

Chapter 2: Creating Genius Habits

Part Two: Recipes for a Genius Life

Chapter 3: Breaking the Fast

The World’s Best Blueberry Smoothie That Actually Tastes Like Blueberries

Beef Breakfast Sausage Patties

Grain-Free Blueberry Orange Pancakes with Coconut Cream

“Cheesy” Baked Eggs with Broccoli

Herb and Avocado Scrambled Eggs

Olive Oil–Poached Salmon “Benedict”

Easy Olive Oil Hollandaise

Perfect Poached Eggs

Crispy Salmon Skin “Bacon” and Eggs

Baked Eggs in Sweet Potato “Boats” with Herb Relish

Chapter 4: Small Bites

Grain-Free Greens Fritters with Avocado Dipping Sauce

Romaine and Broccoli with Sesame Caesar Dressing

Watercress, Avocado, and Grilled Fruit Salad with Toasted Almond Dressing

Baked Almond “Breaded” Artichoke Hearts with Herb and Kale Pesto

Miso Coconut Simmered Veggies

Lemon, Lentil, and Broccoli Soup with Apricots and Pomegranate

Vegan Carrot Noodle Mac and “Cheese”

Shrimp, Blueberry, and Arugula Salad

Zucchini Noodles with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Chile Flakes

Broccoli-Based Greek-Style Salad with Oregano Dressing

Kelp Noodles with Brazil Nut Pesto

Roasted Broccoli with Shallots and Dried Fish

Mustard and Miso Broccoli

Simple Bone Broth

Spiced Chickpea and Broccoli Stew with Turmeric and Mint

Broccoli “Falafel” with Creamy Avocado Sauce

Broccoli Walnut Bisque

Broccoli “Latkes” with Blueberry Applesauce

Fish Sauce Caramel–Glazed Beef Spring Rolls

Blackberry, Avocado, and Basil Salad

Beef Meatball, Garlic, and Greens Soup

Spicy Sesame Broccoli Slaw

Garlic and Curry Snacking Almonds

Avocado and Ginger Chicken Spring Rolls

Avocado, Fennel, Pomegranate, and Winter Citrus Salad

Zucchini and Carrot Noodles with Herbed Avocado “Pesto”

“Cheesy” Kale Salad

Charred Eggplant with Chiles and Avocado

Broccoli “Rice” with Pomegranate and Fresh Herbs

Lemongrass, Mint, and Basil Roasted Broccoli

Crispy Broccoli Hot “Wings”

Junk-Free, Dairy-Free Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Garlicky Chard with Dried Blueberries

Israeli-Style Pickled Cabbage

Kale, Arugula, and Parsley Tabouli Salad

Kale, Garlic, and White Bean Soup with Orange Zest

Shrimp and Roasted Veggie Salad

Olive Oil Mashed Celery Root

Olive Oil–Poached Carrots and Carrot Sauce

Seared Salmon Ceviche in Endive Cups

Chapter 5: Mains

Bacalao with Sweet Potatoes, Onions, Peppers, and Leafy Greens

Simmered Ginger Salmon with Daikon Radish and Greens

Olive and Olive Oil–Braised Chicken and Greens with Orange and Fennel

Bone Broth Beef Stew with Purple Sweet Potatoes

Bangin’ Liver

Ghee-Seared Beef Liver

Insanely Crispy Gluten-Free Buffalo Chicken Wings

Olive Oil Lamb Chops with Olives and Artichoke Hearts

Beef Picadillo

Garlicky Olive Oil Shrimp

Perfect Ribs

Coconut Braised Chicken Thighs with Mustard Greens and Cauliflower

Calo Verde (Portuguese-Style Greens and Sausage Stew)

Braised Chicken with Artichokes, Fennel, and Kale

The Perfect Steak

“Pattyless” Jamaican Beef Patty

Simple Burger Patty

Lemongrass Salmon Banh Mi Bowl

Spice-Rubbed Salmon with Almond Basil Pesto

Miso Sesame Roasted Salmon with Broccoli, Garlic, and Cabbage

Braised Lamb with Broccoli Salsa in Butter Lettuce “Tortillas”

Salmon, Bok Choy, and Herbs in Coconut Broth

Japanese-Style Beef, Sweet Potato, Miso, and Mushroom Stew

Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Sweet Potatoes, and Artichokes

Better Brain Bowl

Fennel Braised Salmon

Olive Oil–Poached Salmon

Za’atar Salmon Burgers

Coconut Curried Eggs

Brisket Chili, Mole Style

Shawarma-Spiced Kebabs

Sheet Pan Balsamic Chicken and Broccoli with Red Onions and Figs

Roasted Leg of Lamb with Garlic, Sweet Potatoes, and Broccoli

Cocoa-Rubbed Beef Loin with Blueberry–Red Wine Sauce

Simply Grilled Steak with Charred Kale Salad

Mushroom Broth with Greens and Ramen-Style Eggs

Salmon and Shrimp Stew with Pumpkin and Coconut

Seared Scallops with Fennel Herb Salad and Creamy Almond Sauce

Braised Beef and Sweet Potatoes with Cauliflower “Polenta”

Chapter 6: Accoutrements

Whipped Black Garlic and Olive Oil Dipping Sauce

Savory Blueberry Balsamic Sauce

Almond “Peanut” Butter

Chapter 7: Desserts

Almond Olive Oil Cake

Avocado Chocolate Truffles

Actually Healthy Hot Chocolate

Sugar-Free Olive Oil Ice Cream

Chocolate Almond Smoothie

Chocolate Coconut Balls

Dairy-Free Blueberry Ice Cream

Chocolate Blueberry Clusters

Chocolate Coconut Cookies with Dried Blueberry “Chips”

Chocolate Avocado Pudding Three Ways

No-Sugar Almond “Granola”

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

Flourless Sugar-Free Blueberry Lemon Tart with Almond Crust





About the Author

Also by Max Lugavere


About the Publisher

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