This Oxford Instagram sensation delivered brain food to starving finalists

Better than your library wine gums


We all want to eat clean, live a #blessed life and feed ourselves the right fuel to get important stuff done.

But it’s hard to keep up with the latest health trend fad, let alone keep up with the cost.

The Tab enlisted help from the founder of The Thinking Kitchen and Oxford MA Psychological Research student Annie Zimmerman to teach us how to whip-up brain food on a budget and help us in our quest to get a 2:1.

She even delivered her magnificent culinary creations to fellow students to help them power through exams, buying ingredients all for less than £5 a dish – all from our favourite supermarket Lidl.


Annie said: “I think students often assume that buying and cooking healthy food is expensive and takes a lot of time, but most of my favourite recipes only take up to 40 minutes.”

Studying a Psychology masters at Oxford and running a successful food blog with a few thousand followers to back it up, Annie is an expert on how food affects our brain.

She said: “Having lived – and eaten – like a typical student over the last three years, I have become increasingly aware that an unhealthy diet can take its toll on your physical and mental health.

“Making healthier changes will really improve student’s ability to concentrate and boost their exam performance, never mind making them feel more energised and generally happier.”


Salmon and broccoli fish cakes with an avocado purée and Waldorf salad

Photo 01-06-2015 17 55 00 (1)

What you need:

For the fishcakes:

1/2 head broccoli
1 sweet potato
2 Lidl wild salmon fillets
1 handful parsley
2 white onions
1 lemon
1 chopped red chili
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the avocado purée:

1 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 chopped red onion
1 clove garlic
3/4 cup water

Check out more brain food recipes and #LidlSurprises

Annie says

“Cook the chopped and peeled sweet potato in boiling water for about 30-40 minutes, then add the broccoli 5 minutes before it’s ready

“Melt 1 tablespoon of olive oil and grill the salmon until its medium rare, which is about 3-4 minutes each side.

“Put the broccoli, sweet potato and salmon in the food processor and pulse it, then switch to a large bowl.”


“Add parsley, flour, onion, lemon juice, chopped chili, eggs and salt to the mixture and stir.

“Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Coat them in flour and roll the mixture up into balls.

“Cook the fish cakes for 3-4 minutes each side on a high heat until crispy and brown.

“The purée is easy, just put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix for 30 seconds.”

For the salad:

2 beetroots
3 stalks celery
1/2 cucumber
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:

1/2 cup Lidl plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup olive oil

Check out more brain food recipes and #LidlSurprises


Annie says:

“Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Dice the celery stalks and cut the beetroot and cucumber into cubes.

“Throw the salad ingredients together with the walnuts, toss the whole thing with the dressing and garnish with pumpkin seeds.”


We wouldn’t normally encourage eating in the library, but we found an Oxford uni study space which allows food.

Annie came to save the day, delivering her fishcake dish directly to students in exam hell.

Caitlin O’Donnell, a third year Psychology student said: “The food was great, such a nice way to break from revision. It was packed full of goodness and was a good reminder that I need to eat healthily before exams.”

Brown pasta with olives, tomatoes, anchovies and spinach


For the pasta:

1/2 packet wholewheat pasta
1 jar Lidl black olives
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
2 handfuls fresh basil
1 packet spinach
2 anchovies (tinned)
Splash olive oil
Salt for the water

Check out more brain food recipes and #LidlSurprises

Annie says:

“Boil the pasta in slightly salted water for 10-15 minutes, chop up the tomatoes and olives and cook with the anchovies for 5 minutes.

“Add the basil and spinach and cook for for a further 3-4 minutes, then put everything together and serve.”


Third year Geography student Chris Benton was surprised at his desk with the healthy brown pasta dish.

He said: “I love the meal, eating food which I know is good for me gave me motivation to get back to the books.”

Oat squares with dark chocolate and blueberry jam


 For the base:

1 1/2 cups raw almonds
1 1/2 cups porridge oats
2 tbsp water

For the blueberry layer:

12oz fresh blueberries
2 tbsp honey

For the topping:

2 bars dark chocolate
1 tbsp Lidl runny honey
1 tbsp olive oil

Check out more brain food recipes and #LidlSurprises

Annie says:

“Get a cake tin greased up with a little olive oil, then purée the blueberries and honey in a blender and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes to make your jam.

“Whizz all the base ingredients in a food processor until combined and layer it across the bottom of your tin. When it’s ready, pour the jam on top.”


“Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl above hot water, then add coconut oil and honey. Next pour it on top of the jam.

“Then just freeze the bars for about 20 minutes until they get firm. Cut it into squares and you’re good to go.”


Follow Lidl on Facebook and Twitter and check out more #LidlSurprises

Annie’s recipes can be found at and on her Instagram.