What Makes a Meal MIND-Worthy?

MIND Diet book author is a registered dietitian, and culinary school trained, so recipes are healthy and delicious
MIND Diet book author in her chef whites

There are 75 recipes in The MIND Diet book to get you started, but when you’re ready to make your own meals, rest assured that the guidelines for creating healthy MIND diet meals are simple. The beauty of the MIND diet is its simplicity. The complicated part is done (the research). Based on natural whole foods, the MIND diet includes plenty of plant foods, complemented by a healthy helping of seafood and poultry. And don’t forget the wine!

How do you know if your meal is worthy to be tagged #minddietmeals? Simple, it will contain any of the 10 basic brain-healthy food groups, and none of the five brain-harming ones. With these basic guidelines, you’ll be creating your own MIND diet meals in no time.

The MIND diet’s brain-healthy food groups (and how often to eat them):

  1. Whole grains – 3x per day (i.e. daily)
  2. Vegetables – 1x per day (i.e. daily)
  3. Leafy green vegetables – 6x per week
  4. Nuts – 5x per week (e.g. a daily snack during the workweek)
  5. Beans – 3-4x per week (i.e. about every other day)
  6. Berries – 2x per week (e.g. fresh berries over 2 to 3 days, or frozen berries anytime)
  7. Poultry – 2x per week
  8. Fish – 1x per week
  9. Olive oil – use daily (I like CA Olive Ranch because it has a seal of authenticity from California Olive Oil Commission)
  10. Wine – 1x per day (i.e. one 5 oz glass daily)

 

The MIND diet’s brain-harming food groups (You’ll see there’s room for moderation, but reducing these foods as much as possible has many benefits for overall health):

  1. Butter/solid fats – less than a tablespoon per day
  2. Pastries/sweets – less than 5x per week
  3. Red meat – less than 4x per week
  4. Fried/fast foods – less than 1x per week (e.g. one or two times a month)
  5. Cheese – less than 1x per week (e.g. one or two times a month)

 

What are some simple meal ideas you can think of that include some of the 10 brain-healthy food groups?

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
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  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

 

Ingredients:

  • 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

 

Directions: 

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.