Vegan No-Sugar-Added Chocolate Pudding with Pistachios and Orange Zest

The Inspiration

First of all, I made this recipe with my septuagenarian parents in mind, as a naturally sweet and totally healthy dessert for the Thanksgiving table. However, my master taste-tester (aka my husband) also approves – he especially enjoyed eating a spoonful with a little bit of pudding, pistachio, and orange zest all together.

It Is So Easy

The prep is a snap, and most of this dish can be made well ahead of time. In fact, it’s advisable, since it is ideal to have the pudding chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This makes it pleasantly cool to the palate, and it also diminishes any latent banana aromas (which may seem strong right after blending ingredients).

This ABC pudding is kicked up a notch with chili powder + pistachios + orange zest #brainfood #healthy #noaddedsugars Click To Tweet

Pro Tips

The aromatic oils that arise from citrus zest are fragile, so it’s best to zest your orange just before serving. Bonus points if you zest directly into your dessert bowls at the table – since this helps get the most out of that magical spray that results from zesting, and is fun for your guests, too. If that’s not practical, it’s still nice to zest nearby your final product before serving.

Why it’s MDM-Approved

This recipe is MIND Diet Meals approved because it is bursting with healthy fats, antioxidants, and more fiber than you might expect (32% of the Daily Value in one serving of this smooth, creamy dessert!). There’s no need for any added sugars in this recipe because it gets its sweetness naturally from ripe bananas. There is no saturated-fat laden cream in this recipe either. It gets its creaminess from ripe avocados. While this dessert tastes great and looks beautiful, most of all it’s heart-healthy and brain-healthy, too. Healthy and delicious? That’s an MDM win.

Vegan ABC Chocolate Pudding with Pistachios and Orange Zest
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: California
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
  • 3 ripe medium bananas, peeled
  • 2 ripe medium California avocados, peeled and deseeded
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • Zest from 1 medium orange
  1. Prepare pudding: Blend all ingredients together until smooth, except pistachios and orange zest. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely chilled.
  2. Prepare pistachios: Preheat oven to 350 F. Toast pistachios on baking sheet for 3 minutes. Toss, and bake for additional 3 minutes. Let cool and coarsely chop. Store in airtight container until ready to serve.
  3. Serve: Divide pudding into 8 dessert bowls, top with pistachios. Zest an entire medium orange (or two, if you love orange zest), and divide zest among bowls. Enjoy.
MIND diet foods: Nuts
Nutrition Information
Serving size: About ½ cup Calories: 165 Fat: 10g Saturated fat: 2g Unsaturated fat: 8g Trans fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 22g Sugar: 7 g (zero added sugars) Sodium: 42mg Fiber: 8g Protein: 5g Cholesterol: 0mg


Super Simple Baked Beet Chips with Lemon Zest

beet chips in a single layerWho doesn’t love beets? They can’t be beat. Here is a super simple way to enjoy them as a crispy, savory snack founded on good quality basic ingredients like beets, olive oil, and lemon zest.

Beets are nutrient-packed, providing a good source of fiber, potassium, iron, and folate. To reap the benefits, try my simple recipe here, and then go check out these five additional ways to enjoy beets, plus tips for buying, storing and preparing them.

MIND Foods: Vegetables, olive oil

Yield: 6 servings

Time: 10 minutes to prep; 30 minutes to cook

Difficulty: Easy


3 large beets, washed, scrubbed and peeled, cut into 1/32” slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large lemon, zested

Kosher salt, optional

1 chive, thinly sliced, optional

3-ingredient Beet Chips = simple snack, super nutritious root veggie! #Recipe Click To Tweet

beet chips with lemon zest


Preheat oven to 350F. To slice the beets, you may use a food processor, mandolin, or sharp chef’s knife. Place sliced beets in a large bowl and toss with olive oil. Spread sliced beets on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until crisp enough that edges have begun to curl and a little color has developed. Remove from oven, sprinkle sparingly with salt and garnish with lemon zest and/or chives. Allow chips to cool slightly before serving.



  • Using medium to large beets is recommended because the chips will shrink during baking
  • Trying thicker slices, e.g. 1/16” is also fine, though may require longer cooking time
  • Keep regular watch on chips after the first 10 minutes to avoid burning
  • Zesting a lemon and letting the zest rest encourages curling, which may be desirable for presentation 


Nutrition: 65 calories, 5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber

Eggstravanza with Garam Masala Hummus & Pomegranate Baby Kale Salad

yummy runny eggsSometimes experimentation pays off. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s good to go into the kitchen with an open mind; a loose framework helps. That’s what I did today, with delicious results. After spending some time brainstorming in pajamas (it is Saturday, after all), I hit up two stores for supplies, and came back to get cooking. It’s a good thing Fred doesn’t mind waiting for breakfast. We had coffee before any of this, obvs. There are limits.

I took advantage of some beautiful seasonal pomegranate, but the rest of the ingredients can be found year-round, including a few “shortcut” ingredients like bottled sesame sauce and pre-mixed garam masala. After pomegranate season closes in January, I’d swap in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or even table or concord grapes.

garam masala hummus is the bomb dot com. we've got your easy #recipe right here. via @minddietmeals @maggiemoonRD Click To Tweet Pomegranate arils are a star in every dish they grace. #pomegranate #babykale #salad #recipe via @minddietmeals @maggiemoonRD Click To Tweet

Food Safety Tip

I used large AA organic cage-free eggs, but I’m not in an at-risk group. To get rid of any food safety concerns about undercooked eggs, you can use a pasteurized whole egg. As far as I know, eggs by Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs is the only option on the market right now.

Eggstravanza with Garam Masala Hummus & Pomegranate Baby Kale Salad
Recipe type: Brunch
Cuisine: New American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
A perfectly soft-boiled egg sits on a bed of baby power greens, atop an English muffin spread with garam masala hummus. Pomegranate arils are everywhere, and that's a good thing. The egg is garnished with smoked Spanish paprika and chickpea aquafaba foam.
Garam-Masala Hummus
  • 15.5 oz can chickpeas beans, aka garbanzo beans (I used Sprouts Market Organic Low Sodium Garbanzo Beans), drained, liquid reserved
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ⅓ cup sesame sauce
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 1 large lemon, zest and juice
  • 5 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves separated and roughly chopped (may reserve a few whole leaves for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
  • 2-3 cups baby kale, loosely packed
  • ¾ cup parsley leaves, loosely packed (5-7 springs)
  • 1 small pomegranate, arils removed to produce at least ½ cup (you may have extra)
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T garam masala hummus (from hummus made with recipe above)
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 whole grain English muffins
  1. Combine all ingredients except chickpea liquid and parsley in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste before seasoning with any salt or pepper. Season to taste. Flavors may melt together and develop more after resting.
  3. Cover and let rest in refrigerator.
  4. This recipe makes about 1.5 cups of hummus, so you're going to have extra, which is awesome. It's great on sandwiches, as a veggie dip, and on top of fish. Freeze anything you can't use up within a few days.
Salad & Eggs & Toast
  1. While the hummus is resting, wash and dry all produce.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  3. Combine dry baby kale and parsley in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, and hummus, whisk until smooth, and set aside.
  4. Bring medium pot of salted water to roaring boil over high heat.
  5. While water is heating, trim the top and bottom off the pomegranate, score the sides every 2-3 inches, then submerge the fruit in a large bowl of water, pry the fruit open using the scored marks.
  6. When water is at a roaring boil, carefully add eggs and boil for 4 minutes exactly. Remove eggs and let cool slightly at room temperature.
  7. While eggs are cooling, separate the English muffins and toast in oven, face up, for 3-5 minutes or to desired doneness (check periodically to avoid burning), remove from oven and set aside.
  8. Carefully peel eggs (if they break, it'll be messy) once they are cool enough to work with.
  9. Whisk reserved chickpea liquid (aquafaba) until it forms a foam, less than a minute.
  10. Dress the salad; dressing may need a refresher whisking if it has separated.
  1. Divide English muffins on two plates. Spread with hummus. Add a small handful of the salad on top of the hummus. Top with eggs.
  2. Dollop the chickpea foam on top. Garnish with paprika and parsley.
  3. Add more salad to the plate as a side dish.
  4. Dig in, it's going to taste great.


“Candy Corn” Recipe – Going Back to Its Roots

I was recently confronted with a cornucopia of candy corn, and lived to tell the tale. In one of my most amusing assignments to date, I got to learn all about candy corn, including how people *really* feel about it. It doesn’t take long to scratch the surface – people are happy to share their oddly passionate views about the little waxy sugar bombs that many will say are neither proper candy – and certainly not – proper corn.

Neither good 'candy' nor good 'corn' - What's in candy corn, anyway? Click To Tweet

If you want to check out my tale of candy corn before the big day (Halloween, that is), mosey on over here to read up on what’s in candy corn, anyway.

If you want to check out my take on putting the “corn” back into this whimsical Halloween sweet, stay with me. I’m not a big sweets person*, so my version is actually a savory dish, and full of veggies. Decidedly not candy. But it has all the fun poppy colors of candy corn. And I think it tastes way better. I suppose the five-dollar plastic skeletons party is an option either way.

Actual corn in faux 'candy corn' made with REAL #veggies! #recipe #minddietmeals Click To Tweet

MIND diet foods: vegetables, olive oil, poultry


a spooky candy corn scene

2 white potatoes, thin skin, large diced
1 small head of garlic
1/2 cup of milk, warmed
1 T olive oil
3 medium carrots, peeled, then chopped or spiralized
1 lb extra lean ground turkey (I used Jennie-O), you will have extra
1-2 ears yellow corn, kernels cut off

Optional: Halloween decor, either sanitized (or commit to not eating anything that touches it)

Optional: You could sub crumbled sauteed tofu for the turkey to make this vegetarian



Each component can be made a day ahead of time, and kids (or adults) can help assemble their own.

Mashed Potatoes

  1. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil with a large pinch of salt
  2. Add potatoes and boil 15 minutes until tender, but not over-cooked
  3. Drain
  4. Add potatoes back to pot, add oil and slowly incorporate milk while mashing to desired consistency (you may not need all the milk)
  5. Mix in roasted garlic

Roasted Garlic

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Chop off top 1/4, place in generous amount of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, salt and white pepper, ensuring it gets coated, and close off top of tin foil into ball
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or so, which should make it soft but not brown (this is simply to protect the ‘candy corn’ color scheme), knife should slide in to flesh easily
  4. Let it cool; and when its cool enough to handle, squeeze from bottom so cloves pop out
  5. Mash before adding to mashed potatoes


  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot
  2. Add turkey and season to taste
  3. Cook until done, breaking up pieces with spatula, about 7 minutes or until browned through


  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and then turn the heat off
  2. Prepare an ice bath
  3. Blanche carrots in water briefly until just wilted, then dunk in ice bath before removing and setting aside to dry
  4. Optional: rough chop into 2-3″ pieces to make them easier to eat


  1. Assembly can be done in any cup or bowl, but it’s festive if you can use clear martini glasses
  2. Add potatoes as a bottom layer as the candy corn “tip.” Optional (and recommended): Put the potatoes in a plastic sandwich bag and cut a corner to make an impromptu pastry bag and then pipe it in, filling the cup 1/4 of way
  3. At this point, use a small glass or a shot glass, wrapped in parchment paper, and gently place on top of potatoes
  4. Position carrots around glass for 2 quarters of the way; pack carrots in
  5. Add corn on top for the last 1/4
  6. Carefully remove shot glass, leaving parchment paper, and fill center with turkey mix
  7. Carefully slip parchment paper out
  8. Cover turkey with a little more corn if desired (optional)
  9. Dig in!

Tip: It’s more than fine to turn your creation upside-down onto a plate for eating if that’s easier!

*I do have a soft spot for dainty French macarons. I’m partial to pistachio, earl grey, and rose macarons.

Chicken Curry Salad with Ginger, Almonds & Grapes

I was invited to a lovely birthday gathering at a friend’s home in Venice Beach, and was excited to bring something to share with the group. I wanted it to be fresh, flavorful, and satisfying, while being easy enough to sample among a mix of offerings (I was not the only one bringing something to share!). This awesome recipe is the result – it’s my take on a chicken curry salad, with excellent ingredients and add-ins, served with delicate butter lettuce cups.

MIND foods: Poultry, vegetables, nuts, leafy greens

Yield: 8 servings

Time: 30 minutes active; 30 minutes inactive

Difficulty: Easy


Chicken Curry Salad Ingredients

2 cups chicken broth (I used a store-bought organic chicken broth, but this is a great way to use any homemade broth you may have laying around in the fridge or freezer)
1/2 cup almond slivers, toasted
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I made my own with olive oil, see below if you want to, too)
1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast (I used Kosher)
5 teaspoons mild curry powder (I used a mild aromatic curry)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (plus extra for adjusting to taste at the end)
6 oz cup plain strained yogurt (e.g. Greek or Icelandic yogurt works great)
1 teaspoon honey (I used an organic raw honey from Wholesome)
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and minced (peel it with a spoon; you’ll thank me later)
1 medium red onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and small diced (this adds such an awesome crunch)
1 1/2 cup seedless grapes, halved or quartered (depending how big they are) – pick your favorite, I used a mix of red, green, and black California table grapes (these are so crisp and sweet right now)
2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated
salt and pepper to taste

Chicken Curry Salad Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash, dry, and prep all fresh produce. Spread almond slivers in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes (check after 5 minutes), until lightly browned.

On medium heat, combine chicken broth and 3 cups of water in a medium pot. On low heat, add curry and ginger powder to a small saute pan, stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels. When liquid is simmering, add chicken (it should be covered by the liquid), adjust heat to maintain a simmer if needed. Cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from the pot and let rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, make the mayonnaise (see directions below) if making, and set aside in refrigerator. (Do it, you know you want to.)

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice, honey, curry and ginger powder mix, and fresh ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Add in onion, bell peppers, grapes, and almonds, gently stirring to coat (I used a soft spatula for this part).

When chicken is cool enough to handle, dice into bite-size pieces (~ 1/2 inch squares). Gently fold chicken into main salad mixture, using a soft spatula or gloved hands.

Taste it. If it needs adjusting, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and lime juice. For my tastes, I ended up adding another tablespoon of lime juice just at the end.

Make Your Own Mayonnaise (It’s simple, I promise)

Mayonnaise Ingredients

1 egg yolk (since these stay raw, I’d use pasteurized raw eggs from Davidson’s Safe Eggs)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (got mine from Trader Joe’s – the smooth kind, not the grainy one for this recipe)
1/2 cup olive oil (I used “Everyday” extra-virgin olive oil by California Olive Ranch)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mayonnaise Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard together until smooth and homegenous. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, constantly whisking to keep mixture smooth. See, super easy, and tastes so much better than store bought.

Nutrition: 280 calories, 20 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 14 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

chicken curry salad and butter lettuce cups plated

Chicken Basil Frittata with Zucchini, Bell Peppers, and Sweet Corn

This frittata lets seasonal summer ingredients shine, but can be enjoyed year-round with a few swaps for whatever produce is local and in season. Summer smells like basil and tastes like sweet corn, which means this frittata is going to be a seasonal favorite.

Chicken Basil Frittata with Zucchini, Bell Peppers, and Sweet Corn
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ small onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup zucchini, shredded
  • ½ cup of sweet corn, from fresh, frozen or canned
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeds removed, and diced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 small basil leaves (optional, for garnish)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, lightly whisk eggs until uniform, then add pepper and salt to taste. Set aside.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a 12” oven-safe skillet over medium heat then sauté onion, zucchini, sweet corn, and bell pepper until fragrant and wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a colander where excess liquid may drain; gently press on vegetables with a wooden spoon to assist draining.
  4. Meanwhile, bring the now empty skillet back to the stove, and heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and half the chopped basil and sauté until just combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the drained mixed vegetables back into the dish and stir to combine for another minute. Pour egg mixture and remaining chopped basil into pan and stir gently. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes to allow the egg to start setting; the edges will start to pull away from the pan.
  5. Place pan into oven and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Let rest 2 minutes before serving. If desired, garnish with basil leaves.

MIND foods: Vegetables, poultry, olive oil


Chicken-basil vegetable frittata with zucchini, bell peppers, and sweet summer corn

 ingredients, prepped and portionedchicken, bell pepper, zucchini, red onion, fresh basil, eggs, summer corn


Nutrition: 180 calories, 9 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 15 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber

Nectarine Gazpacho with California Avocado and Lime

I love summer for the bounty of stone fruit. In my excitement, sometimes I buy too much, and it gets overripe for my taste as a snack on its own. If this happens to you too, don’t throw it out, do what chefs have done throughout time with still-ok-but-overripe produce: make soup. Don’t forget to taste along the way to get the flavor you want.


MIND foods: Wine, Olive Oil

Yield: 6-8 servings

Time: 10 minutes plus chilling time (at least 30 minutes)

Difficulty: Easy



  • 4 medium ripe yellow nectarines, cored and large chopped
  • 1/2 ripe California avocado
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp sweet vermouth
  • 1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or salt to taste
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-4 cups cold water
  • 4 ice cubes, blended (optional)

Optional garnishes:

  • 1 clove shallot, thinly sliced, soaked for 5+ minutes in rice wine vinegar and a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 avocado, thinly sliced



Wash and dry all fresh produce before beginning. Prep and measure all ingredients. In a large blender, combine nectarines, avocado, garlic, lime juice, sweet vermouth, vinegars, and salt, and blend until smooth. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and continue to blend. Optional: to speed up cooling, crush ice cubes in a food processor then add to main mixture. Add cold water a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to let flavors meld. Garnish just before serving.

Nutrition: 125 calories, 9 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber

Nutrition information based on addition of 2 cups of cold water, and 6 servings yield; ice and garnishes not accounted for.

Creamy Berry Smoothie

This superfood smoothie features the berries most researched for brain health: blueberries and strawberries. A protein bonus comes from the almond butter and soft tofu, a mild-tasting and very blendable kind of tofu that incorporates seamlessly into soups and smoothies, where it adds a high-protein, vegetarian and dairy-free creaminess.

MIND foods: Nuts, beans, berries

Prep time: 5 minutes

Skill level: Easy



1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup soft tofu, drained

1 T almond butter

1/2 cup unsweetened almond-coconut milk

1 medium ice cube, optional

blueberries, almond milk, almond butter, strawberries, soft tofu



Combine all ingredients into a blender. Pulse until fully combined. Additional ice cubes may be added for a colder temperature or thinner consistency, according to preference.


Nutrition: 180 calories, 8 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 6 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber