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Posts (25)

1 day ago · Recipe: Basil Pesto Orzo in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)


As the weather turns cooler, many of us find ourselves gravitating toward warm, cozy dishes such as pasta. Pesto is a great topping for whole grain pasta, with lots of brain-healthy olive oil as the star ingredient.

This dish was served at one of our recent HABIT sessions. Chef John Kessler of the La Crosse Country Club in Onalaska, Wisconsin, was kind enough to share his recipe with us. boosts the nutritional profile with lots of yummy roasted veggies, making this a complete meal in one bowl.

Bon Appetite!

Basil Pesto Orzo Recipe

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 3 tbsp pesto, bought or homemade (recipe below)
  • 2 cups roasted vegetables: zucchini, yellow squash, sundried tomatoes, onions, all work great as well as many others (spinach, kale, or other leafy greens can also be added at the end)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or 2 tbsp)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • splash of lemon from one lemon
  • Garnish: goat cheese, feta or Parmesan cheese


  • ROAST VEGETABLES: Cut vegetables into bite size pieces and toss with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven at 350 degrees for ten minutes or until tender.
  • BOIL ORZO: In a medium pot, bring water with a tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add orzo and boil for about 10 minutes until orzo is al dente. Drain and put into large bowl or pot.
  • Basil Pesto Recipe: Process in food processor until smooth: 1 cup packed Basil leaves, 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/4 olive oil. (makes 1/2 cup)
  • In a large bowl or pot place the orzo and mix in pesto. Add vegetables and gently mix or place orzo on plate or bowl and top with vegetables. Grilled chicken breast or proteins can be added as well.


Tue, Oct 29 7:00am · Getting Started with Exercising: Slow and Steady Makes a Habit in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

fall couple walking

Awhile back, we featured a post by HABIT staff member Maria Caselli (@mariacaselli), on the updated physical activity guidelines for older adults (check it out here if you missed it). Her post was a great reminder that we don’t have to do all of our daily exercise minutes all at the same time. Short bursts of activity count, too. This information is wonderful, especially, if you’re someone who is looking to increase your physical activity by several minutes per day. But what if you’re not doing ANY minutes of physical exercise at this point? Well, read on, because this post is for you!

When making a new habit, such as exercising for the first time (or the first time in a long time), many of us fall victim to doing too much, too fast. We say to ourselves, “today I’m going to go for a jog.” We go for that jog, gung ho, and feel proud. Unfortunately the next day we feel more sore than proud, and going for another run doesn’t sound so appealing. We feel like we have “failed” at starting an exercise routine. That sense of failure makes us less likely to try again. Sound familiar?

Psychologists know that the best way to make a change is often by doing so in a gradual fashion using clear goals. The goals should be EASY TO ACHIEVE. In the beginning, I mean really easy. So easy that it seems ridiculous to not meet the goal. For example, let’s say your goal is to walk briskly 150 minutes per week. You currently walk briskly 0 minutes per week. Of course, be sure to check with your primary care doctor and get their okay before starting a new exercise plan.

Here’s what a sample plan looks like:

Week 1: Walk (inside or outside) for 5 minutes M/W/F.

Week 2: Walk (inside or outside) for 7 minutes M/W/F.

Week 3: Add 3 minutes to each walk (10 minutes per day).

Week 4: Add 5 minutes to each walk (15 minutes per day).

Week 5: Add 5 minutes to each walk (20 minutes per day).

Week 6: Add one more day of walking, but only for 10 minutes (20 minutes per day/M/W/F and 10 minutes on Saturday)

Week 7: Increase your Saturday walk to 20 minutes (20 minutes per day/4 days per week)

Week 8: Add 5 minutes to each walk (25 minutes per day/ 4 days per week)

See how you went from 0 minutes per week to 15 minutes per week and ended up at 100 minutes per week?! If you keep adding a few minutes each week, before long, you’ll be at your target of 150 minutes per week. And you’ll have gotten there in a way that set you up to be successful and made it less likely that you’d get injured along the way.

This technique can be used to make other behavioral changes as well, such as adding new foods to your diet (or cutting back on those that are less healthy).

Connect with others who are making changes toward a healthier lifestyle in the Mayo Clinic Connect Healthy Living group.

Comment below if you’re feeling inspired to get started on an exercise routine of your own!

Fri, Oct 25 3:50pm · Appreciation from (and to) A Recent Graduate in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Hi @leslon, I am the director for the Midwest HABIT program. I am afraid the person you spoke to did not have all of the information. The program is not cancelled in the Midwest, in fact today was the last day of our October session here in La Crosse, WI. We have not set dates for 2020 sessions yet, due to needing to identify a reliable space where we can hold the program. If you would like to be on our waiting list for 2020, please reach out to @mirandamorris. Thank you!

Tue, Jul 2 6:00am · Summertime Mediterranean Diet Recipes in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

grilled salmon

As you prepare to celebrate Independence Day, many of you may be planning on hosting or attending a social gathering involving the grill! Barbecues or cook-outs are part of the summer social scene for many of us, and while they are more often associated with burgers and hot dogs than salmon and veggies, there’s no reason you can’t make the menu delicious AND healthy.  As we have mentioned in past blog posts, the Mediterranean Diet is a style of eating that has shown benefits to the health of the brain. It seems like it’s about time we shared a couple of new recipes to get your summer off to a good start. The following recipes come from the Mayo Clinic Healthy Recipes website.

This easy recipe for Mediterranean Style Grilled Salmon is a great main dish that could be featured at your next barbecue.


  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 salmon fillets, each 5 ounces
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 4 green olives, chopped
  • 4 thin slices lemon

Attending a potluck style barbecue? Consider bringing this Bean Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Chances are good that others will appreciate the healthy option to balance out their plate!


For the vinaigrette:

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

Hopefully these recipes are just a jumping off point for you to get excited about ways to make your summer eating give your brain the nutrients it needs.

Give these recipes a try and post below to let us know how you liked them!


Wed, Jun 26 8:59am · Repost: How Big was that Fish? in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

@dorisena – good tip on avoiding becoming engaged in an argument and learning to "step away" in those situations. Sounds like you've encountered more than your fair share of challenging caregiving situations. Thank you for sharing your experiences with others!

Mon, Apr 8 11:07am · What’s the Difference Between Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Dementia? in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

@dorisena – thank you for your comments and willingness to share your experiences with others in the group.

Mon, Apr 8 11:05am · What’s the Difference Between Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Dementia? in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

Great resources, @colleenyoung – I would add that in general, if you feel your safety is compromised, physically leave the situation immediately and call 911.

Mon, Apr 8 11:01am · What’s the Difference Between Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) and Dementia? in Living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

@parus It can be tough to ask questions at an appointment, especially with a computer seeming to take up the provider's attention, but it's so important to be an advocate for yourself and speak up! It may be helpful to write down your questions in advance and mention early in the appointment that you brought a list of questions. If you are noticing cognitive changes that concern you, let your provider know, and ask if a neuropsychological evaluation (or updated evaluation, if you have not had one in a year) would be indicated.