Inside Caroline Rasmussen’s Fridge

Caroline Rasmussen is many things. A lawyer by trade, an herbalist, meditation teacher, reiki master, and most recently, Founder of Antara, a line of powerful supplements that support brain health. When Caroline’s father was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and Parkinson’s, the 30-something New York-native quit her corporate Wall Street job in order to reevaluate her own journey in health, wellness, and ultimately, cognitive function. Today, Caroline is giving Bleu readers an in-depth look behind her refrigerator and pantry doors to reinforce the argument that while pairing Eastern and Western philosophies in order to support brain health in a holistic manner is undoubtedly beneficial, starting with a balanced diet offers some of the best insurance there is against against inflammation and imbalances. Read more on her philosophy and journey, below.

What is your food philosophy?  “I don’t believe in deprivation. I pretty much eat whatever my body is telling me, but try to keep a bird’s-eye view of what my diet has been for the past few days, so I can nudge it back in the right direction if necessary with some extra green juices or detoxing foods and teas. An easy check is when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store and looking at my cart, if I add up what’s in there with what’s back in my fridge and think, hmm, not so proud of this, I might run back out to the produce section and make some adjustments. Food has always been a major pleasure for me, and it will always be that way, but once you’ve read enough studies about how diet affects various physical and mental functions, you start to internalize it a bit as the framework within which you make choices. It’s also getting older. In my 30s, I’ve gotten better at considering how something will make me feel later and what my body wants naturally has also just changed. I used to eat a ton of red meat for instance, which I still really enjoy, but I just don’t want it as often and when I have it now, it’s always organic, grass-fed, raised without hormones and antibiotics, etc. It can actually be an important part of a brain-healthy diet in moderation and when it’s in moderation you’re more willing to pay up for quality, which is also better for the environment. But, I slip up sometimes for sure. This week for example, I had a day of off energy and even though I knew my body didn’t want it, I gave in to my mind which was off and telling me to eat the last huge slice of chocolate cake we had from my sister’s birthday last week. I ate the whole thing and of course it made me feel terrible. The body will almost never steer you wrong, but the mind is tricky!”

What do you always keep on hand?  “Lentils. It’s an easy, full meal and you can take it in any direction with spices. My base is always the lentils with tomato paste, garlic, yellow onions, and chicken stock (plus chopped carrots and celery if I have the time), then garam masala for Indian or Herbes de Provence for French. I always add fresh herbs on top to match the base flavor I’ve chosen, like cilantro for Indian or parsley for French.”

Give us a breakdown of your fridge. What’s on the top shelf?  “I buy a lot of fresh coconut products from Copra Organics, which uses only young Thai coconuts – the best. The coconut meat and water are great for smoothies or just to eat straight. I’m also a huge fan of spirulina for smoothies, which is one of nature’s best detoxifiers. Athletic Greens is a daily green powder I’ve been taking for years as diet insurance. I have a few honeydrop gingerades with Manuka honey on hand for cold season, Manuka has extra powerful antibacterial qualities compared to other honeys. Liberte whole milk yogurt is an occasional indulgence. I just eat the yogurt itself and not the flavoring at the bottom which is what contains most of the sugar. Collagen from the Beauty Chef and Honey Mamas chocolate also make it into the rotation sometimes.”

Middle shelf?  “I have two middle shelves that are oddly proportioned and contain a somewhat random assortment of things. Eggs from Vital Farms, chicken thighs wedged in the back, chopped sweet potato, harissa spread, Yuyo Botanics PM Formula, white miso, prenatal DHA, my daily Amrita Anti-Aging Brain Food, Dharana Focus and Energy Brain Food for when I need a boost, Trader Joe’s Organic Raw Honey, these Ume plum balls from Japan that have been really useful for pregnancy indigestion, and fruit: organic grapes, pineapple, and as many organic berries as I can afford.”

Bottom shelf?  “I always have a ton of fresh herbs on hand. Right now it’s mint, flatleaf parsley, tarragon, sage, and a rosemary / oregano / thyme mix. A lot of the aromatic herbs like rosemary have heavy-hitting antioxidant benefits for the brain in particular and they’re perfect for this time of year with heavier vegetable dishes like roasted squash or carrots. My husband makes fun of me because I’m a little OCD about my wooden bowls. Right now it’s cara cara oranges, apples, last figs of summer, avocado, peppers, and of course ginger and lemons.”

Drawers & doors?  “Drawers are produce — kale, celery, zucchini, cucumber, carrots. Door has the supplies for my morning beverages — coconut water, almond milk, coffee, and matcha. Also, seasonings and sauces like ponzu, yuzu vinegar, fish sauce, coconut aminos, and date molasses which is a good alternative sweetener to honey for savory dishes.”

Pantry staples?  “Lentils, vermicelli, sticky brown rice squares from Thailand that you just panfry for the most delicious meal base, dulse flakes, chia seeds, oats, barley, quinoa, canned mackerel, and reishi, astralagus, and lion’s mane for my coffee.”

Where do you grocery shop?  “I’m lucky to have a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s right near me, although in opposite directions. I go to Trader Joe’s for as many pantry staples and dry goods as possible, and pick up whatever organic produce they happen to have when I’m there. Everything else, I pretty much get from Whole Foods.”

Favorite meal of the day?  “Typically dinner. I usually don’t have time to give a ton of thought to breakfast or lunch, so dinner is where I can really solve for whatever I’m craving that day.”

Go-to snack? Tamarind House Dried Tamarind. It’s sweet, a bit sour, and so delicious. It’s quite healthy as well with no preservatives and no added sugar, but I sometimes overdo it, which ends up upsetting my stomach, like overdoing on anything. Now that it’s apple season, I’m also having more apples with crunchy Trader Joe’s almond butter and cinnamon.”

Recipe on rotation?  “Sautéed shrimp with coconut oil, ginger, and coriander. It takes a bit of prep, but it’s as amazing for leftovers as it is fresh and especially good for winter. Here’s the recipe:

2½  Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. finely chopped peeled ginger
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped (use a heavier hand with the garlic if you’re trying to avert or shorten a cold)
½ tsp. ground coriander
1-lb. large shrimp, shelled
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. ground black pepper
6 scallions, white parts thinly sliced; dark green parts sliced and reserved

Instructions: Melt coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the white scallion slices, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant. Add the coriander and cook 30 seconds more. Add the shrimp and salt. Cook until shrimp are opaque. Stir in the green scallion pieces and cook until just wilted. Season with lemon juice and black pepper. Serve over rice with lemon wedges.”

Written by: Tiana Gidley

Tiana Gidley is a 20-something Contributing Editor at The Bleu. She binge-watches reality TV on Bravo, throws a mean murder mystery party, and makes her bed every morning.

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