Strawberrry and Pineapple Plate with Whiskey-Ginger Drizzle

It’s almost spring, it’s almost spring, it’s almost spring!

While I normally think of berries and summer in the same breath, the exception is strawberries. I know they’re available year-round, but in southern California, the best berries from local farms come out in late April, early May. I can’t wait.

The MIND diet calls for berries twice a week. Here’s a simple snack that gets elevated by a fancy drizzle. Honestly, I’d happily eat this with or without the drizzle, but it does add something so special and surprising.

Let me know if you give it a try!

 

Strawberrry and Pineapple Plate with Whiskey-Ginger Drizzle
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup whiskey
  • ½ tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp freshly shredded ginger
  • 1 tbsp pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup pineapple slices
  • 8 strawberries
  • Optional garnishes: pink Himalayan salt, mint
Instructions
  1. Combine whiskey, olive oil, vanilla, ginger, pineapple juice, and a pinch of salt. Let rest for at least 10 minutes, but 30 minutes or more is better.
  2. Arrange pineapple slices and strawberries on a plate, and drizzle liquid mixture over.
  3. Garnish with pink salt and mint leaves, if desired.

 

Trailblazer: Strawberry Almond BarNana Pop Mix

Trail mix is all about on-the-go snacking, so while I generally favor fresh fruit, when it comes to trail mix, it’s just not in the cards. But my problem is that I find most dried fruit too sweet since all the sugar in fresh form is concentrated down (don’t even get me started on the dried fruit that even adds sugar!). Anyway, I am happy that I’ve found some great dried fruit options that aren’t too sweet.

I recently tried BarNana organic chewy banana bites at a nutrition conference, and it was love at first bite. (This was sort of surprising since the little brown lumps don’t look all that appealing, but give them a try, you might like them, too!). They’re simply dehydrated bananas coated in banana powder so they don’t stick to your fingers (brilliant!). What I like about them is that unlike a lot of dried fruit, they’re not too sweet (my palate doesn’t prefer too much sweetness so this is perfect for me). Same goes for freeze-dried strawberries, actually. They’re pleasantly tart more than anything else. To this mix, almonds and popcorn add volume, crunch, protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Recipe

Trail Mix with Freeze-Dried Strawberries, Almonds, Popcorn and Chewy Banana Bites

Prep: 5 min | Total: 5 min

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Boom Chika Pop popcorn (or air-pop your own)
  • 1 1/2 cups Kroger Simple Truth Freeze-Dried Strawberries (or your preferred brand)
  • 32 almonds (about 1/3 cup)
  • 8 BarNana organic original chewy banana bites

 

Method

Divide evenly into 4 resealable snack containers. If you can find a snack container with two compartments, divide popcorn and almonds into one side, and the dried fruit on the other. This will help prevent soggy popcorn.

 

Nutritional notes: 130 calories per serving, zero added sugars, potassium- and vitamin A-rich, and a good source of fiber.

MIND diet foods: Whole grains, nuts, berries

Trailblazer: Goji Matcha Cacao Pop Mix

There is a complex yet delicate herbaliciousness to both goji berries and green tea. Combine them with the pleasant bitter notes in dark chocolate, and you get a lovely nuanced marriage of rhyming flavors. Contrast those flavors with a simple base of popcorn which also adds great texture, volume, and fiber. This polyphenol-powered trail mix has high quality indulgent ingredients, yet keeps them in proportion so you don’t have to worry about going overboard on calories or too many added sugars.

Recipe

Trail Mix with Goji Berries, Matcha Dark Chocolate, and Popcorn

Prep: 2 min | Total: 2 min

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Boom Chika Pop popcorn (or air-pop your own)
  • 4 squares Vosges Super Dark 72% Dark Chocolate with Matcha Green Tea, Spiraling, and Cocoa Nibs, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Navitas organic goji berries

 

Directions

Divide evenly into 4 resealable snack containers.

 

Nutritional notes: 100 calories per serving, 3 grams of added sugars, vitamin A-rich, and a good source of potassium and fiber.

MIND diet foods: Whole grains, berries

 

Trailblazer: Beet’stachio Goji-Pop Mix

Anyone else notice all the new-fangled trail mixes available on the shelf these days? Premium ingredients come with a premium price. But you can enjoy all the on-trend healthy flavors of the moment, hand-pick your own filling ingredients, and manage your calories and portions, all by doing a little bit of prep work at home. It’s painless, I promise. The hardest part is waiting to get munching.

Recipe

Trail Mix with Beet Chips, Pistachios, Goji Berries and Popcorn

Prep: 2 min | Total: 2 min

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Boom Chika Pop popcorn (or air-pop your own)
  • 12 Rhythm beet chips (or bake your own)
  • 60 pistachios (about 1/3 cup of kernels)
  • 3 tablespoons Navitas organic goji berries

 

Directions

Divide evenly into 4 resealable snack containers.

 

Nutritional notes: 125 calories per serving, zero added sugars, vitamin A-rich, and a good source of potassium and fiber.

MIND diet foods: Whole grains, vegetables, nuts, berries

Banana Nice Cream Dairy-Free Frozen Treat

I pride myself on my omnivore status, and having a curious palate open to the world’s flavors. My take on a healthy balanced diet is quite inclusive. So when I tell you this is a vegan and dairy-free dessert, know that those qualities are mostly incidental. True, my body hasn’t had a decent relationship with dairy since I was a toddler, but I hold no grudge. Therefore, I give you a very simple and delicious “nice cream,” which is a vegan, dairy-free way to enjoy a creamy dessert that is 100-percent cream-free with no added sugars (none needed). There’s a good balance of fiber from the bananas, protein from the peanut butter powder, and natural sweetness from the bananas and vanilla extract.

I topped mine with freeze-dried blueberries I picked up on a whim from Trader Joe’s (brain-healthy berries!). I think a sprinkle of cinnamon and some dark chocolate nibs would also be delightful toppings. In our home, we’ve enjoyed this as breakfast, snack, and dessert. With a handful of wholesome ingredients, it is truly a guilt-free indulgence.

The one snafu could be the frozen bananas. Here are a few options:

  1. You can start with frozen bananas from the freezer aisle.
  2. If you eat bananas regularly, you know sometimes one or two can get too ripe before you can finish the bunch. These are great to break up into pieces and stash in the freezer until you have enough to make some nice cream.
  3. Or, you can buy a bunch of bananas for the singular purpose of making nice cream. If this is the case, you must wait for them to ripen (you can use the brown paper bag trick to speed up the process), then break into pieces and freeze.

Recipe

Prep: 1 min | Cook: 3 min | Total: 4 min

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 medium-large ripe bananas, broken into 2″ pieces, frozen
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened
3 T peanut butter powder

 

Method

Combine bananas, vanilla extract, and half of almond milk in blender or food processor. Pulse to start to combine, about 1 minute. Add peanut butter powder. Pulse again, slowly adding more almond milk as needed to reach desired consistency (somewhere between ice cream and soft-serve). Enjoy immediately or return to freezer until ready to enjoy.

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
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: California
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.
Notes
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

Ingredients

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

Directions

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.

 

Notes

  • 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

“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

Ingredients:

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

 

Directions:

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

Turkey

  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

Carrots

  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

Assembly

  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.

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.

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

 

Ingredients

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
ingredient

 

Instructions

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