You’ve survived the holiday season, now it’s time to thrive with wellness into 2018. Here are three ways to get going on the right path. The good news is that even adopting one of these ideas this week will do the body and mind good. So ease into a new habit, and if week one goes well, try another week. If that goes well, try adding another of these tips to your routine.
Broccoli, kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, and more. Take your pick. Put it in a salad or a smoothie, cook them up in a soup or a saute lightly in olive oil. Adults who ate at least one serving of leafy green vegetables a day kept the brain humming 11 years younger, according to a new study from Tufts University.
Take a brisk 40 minute walk.
The 2013 International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain’s dietary and lifestyle guidelines for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease recommend taking this brisk walk every other day. Aerobic exercise helps reduce inflammation and improves blood flow to the brain. It even protects brain cells. There are also heart health and overall weight management reasons to go for that walk. Maybe take it as an opportunity to catch up with a friend or a favorite podcast episode.
Eat more plant protein.
When it comes to protein, it is essential to get enough throughout each day. It can come from many sources, including plant and animal foods. It’s the mix of proteins you eat throughout the day that matter, not what you eat at one sitting. Aim to get some of your protein from plants. Nuts and beans will be your best bet. Almonds and pistachios are the two snack nuts that are highest in protein and fiber, or take your pick from a variety of beans such as black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans, split peas, and more. Super healthy whole grains and pseudo-grains like quinoa, sorghum, farro, and barley, also offer up a little plant protein.
Which of these three simple choices will you commit to making today? Let me know in the comments!
Come Christmas time, my family gathers at my parents’ home in southern California. There’s a single pomegranate tree in our backyard, and every winter my mom saves the best one for me. This simple side dish is a way to honor those jewels of winter. I always try to make something simple, seasonal, delicious and vibrantly healthy (and okay, I also want it to be photogenic). Ultimately, I want my loved ones to live long and healthy lives, so tasty yet ridiculously healthy food is my love language. Bonus: this dish is so simple, you won’t be stuck (or getting in anyone’s way) in the kitchen for long.
Tip: Use a circular ravioli or cookie cutter to remove seeds from each ring. This makes it easy to have a visually pleasing center cutout with clean edges.
Curried Acorn Squash with Pistachios and Pomegranates
Prep: 15 min | Cook: 20 min | Rest: 10 min | Total: 45 min
2 small acorn squash, 2-3 lbs each, cut into 1″ rings (about 3 rings per squash)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup pomegranate arils (1 small pomegranate; you may have extra)
1/2 cup pistachio kernels
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400ºF for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the produce. Remove pomegranate arils by quartering the pomegranate and loosening arils from the skin underwater in a large bowl; drain. On a large baking sheet, arrange acorn squash rings in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Add to oven and bake for 20 minutes, or to desired doneness (fork should easily pierce the skin). Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, season to taste. Transfer to serving platter and generously garnish with pistachios and pomegranate arils. Serve immediately.
MIND diet foods: Vegetables, olive oil, nuts, berries
This is a summer-to-fall transitional dish that firmly plants its flag in the I-want-it-to-be-fall camp. Earthy whole-grain sorghum and delicata squash make it decidedly so. Still, in the heady early days of October, many areas of the country will still be going through intermittent warm spells, which means fresh flavors like cucumber, baby spinach, chives, and mint are all still welcome. The warm (and anti-inflammatory) spices of curry, chili, and ginger are enveloped by a blend of coconut and almond milks. (Using a little bit of full-fat coconut milk and a lot more almond milk means great flavor with a ton of calorie savings).Ready for fall, but still feels like summer? This coconut sorghum and squash dish with cucumbers and mint has got you covered! #minddiet #brainfood @simplysorghum Click To Tweet
Tip: Sorghum isn’t always easy to find! Your best bet is to stop by your local Whole Foods, or to order directly from Bob’s Red Mill.
MIND foods: Leafy greens, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil
Prep: 15-30 min | Cook: 1 hr 10 min | Total: 1 hr 15 min
1 cup dry sorghum, rinsed
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 1/4 cups almond milk (I used this unsweetened almond milk with a touch of coconut milk)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 T curry powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili powder
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 cups almond milk
3 T rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium delicata squash
1 T olive oil, and a little more to oil the sheet pan
Pinch of curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Base and Garnishes
4 cups baby spinach, lightly packed (I used a pre-washed product)
1 8-inch cucumber, cut into rounds or thinly sliced with mandolin
2 T marcona almonds
2-3 chives, finely chopped
10-15 mint leaves, torn or cut into strips just before eating
Optional: Red chili flakes
Prep. Wash and dry all fresh produce. Preheat the oven to 375F. Measure out all ingredients.
Make the sorghum. Combine all Coconut Sorghum ingredients with a large pinch of salt in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower heat to a simmer and cover for 50-60 minutes, or until cooked to desired doneness.
Meanwhile, make the curry. Heat oil in a large saucepan – non-stick if you have one – until hot. Add onions and stir occasionally until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and spices and stir constantly for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add liquids (coconut milk, almond milk, mirin), and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower to a simmer for 30 minutes or to desired thickness. Season to taste.
While sorghum and curry simmer, make the squash. Lightly oil a medium sheet pan. Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1-inch half-rings. In a large bowl, toss squash with olive oil, salt, pepper, and curry powder to coat. Arrange on sheet pan in a single layer. Roast for 5-6 minutes on one side, flip over and return to oven to roast another 5-6 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the flesh. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes.
Plate. Make a bed of baby spinach. Spoon coconut-sorghum over greens. Place delicata squash on top. Drizzle with curry (any extra can be served on the side). Garnish with cucumbers, almonds, chives, and mint. If using red chili flakes, sprinkle a pinch over dish or serve on the side for individuals to use to taste. Enjoy.
Tip: One 13.5-ounce can of coconut milk will be enough for this recipe; simply divide between sorghum and curry recipes.
Tip: Once served, guide guests to stir their ingredients around as the warm ingredients will wilt the spinach and infuse it with curry flavors.
This simple salad is aromatic thanks to the fennel, bright thanks to the orange segments, peppery thanks to the arugula, earthy and sweet thanks to the figs, and pleasantly tart and complex thanks to the raspberry-balsamic vinaigrette. There’s no sugar added – or needed – due to all the big vibrant flavors. You’ll enjoy the medley of tastes and textures while meeting your veggie quota for the day (read: fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, vitamin E, and more).
MIND foods: Leafy greens, vegetables, berries, olive oil
Prep: 10-15 min | Cook: 5 min | Total: 15-20 min
4 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (I used a pre-washed product)
1 medium bulb fennel, stalks trimmed and discarded, reserving fronds
1 medium orange, supreme segments (I used a Tangelo orange)
6 California mission figs, quartered lengthwise (substitute: your favorite fresh fig)
Raspberry Vinaigrette Ingredients
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Reserved orange juice, to taste
Wash and dry all fresh produce. Combine all dressing ingredients, except orange juice, in a food processor or blender until smooth; season to taste. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. (You will have extra dressing to enjoy for the rest of the week!) Meanwhile, quarter your fennel bulb. Cut out the tough root and heart with a diagonal slice and discard. Thinly slice the remaining white bulb on the diagonal to make thin strips. To supreme your orange, cut off the top and bottom, then with one flat side down securely on the cutting board, slice away the remaining peel. Cut flesh-only segments out of the orange. Squeeze the juice out of the remaining orange core and reserve. Optional: taste dressing and add orange juice, slowly, to taste.
To plate, toss or gently layer arugula, fennel, fennel fronds, citrus, and figs. Drizzle with dressing. Season to taste. Serve immediately.
Tip: Using a funnel, pour the finished dressing into a squeeze bottle to make it easier to handle.
Tip: Reserve some of the fig pieces, orange segments, and fennel fronds, and place as deliberate garnishes to add appeal to your dish.
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.
Trail Mix with Beet Chips, Pistachios, Goji Berries and Popcorn
Prep: 2 min | Total: 2 min
- 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
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
The height of summer means stone fruit, and that includes cherries. Deep red cherries add a sweet, mildly tart and bright note to the nutty and earthy base notes of the farro in this whole grain salad. Pickled cucumbers and shallots add another dimension of contrasting flavor, texture, and temperature. The magic is in the medley and how all these flavors play together and in reaction to each other.
MIND foods: whole grains, vegetables, nuts, berries
Prep: 10-15 min | Cook: 15-20 min | Total: 25-35 min
1.5 cups farro (here’s a 10-minute farro that’s good for busy weeknights)
1 medium-large cucumber, skin peeled in stripes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, halved lengthwise again, and chopped (will be 1.5-2 cups when chopped)
2 medium shallots, peeled, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced (will be about a 1/2 cup loosely packed)
2 large handfuls of fresh red cherries, pitted and roughly chopped (about 30 cherries; will be about 1 cup roughly chopped)
2 T coconut vinegar
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup roasted and lightly salted pistachios, roughly chopped (reserve a small handful for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare farro according to package instructions. While farro is cooking, wash, dry and prep all produce. In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers, shallots and vinegar, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let marinate for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When farro is done cooking, thoroughly drain and then transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste. Fold in cherries, cucumber-shallot mixture and pistachios just before serving. Top with reserved pistachios. Enjoy.
Tip: Get the kids involved! Have kids wash their hands and help remove thyme leaves and cherry pits.
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
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, optional3-ingredient Beet Chips = simple snack, super nutritious root veggie! #Recipe Click To Tweet
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
Sometimes 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
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.
- 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
- Combine all ingredients except chickpea liquid and parsley in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
- Taste before seasoning with any salt or pepper. Season to taste. Flavors may melt together and develop more after resting.
- Cover and let rest in refrigerator.
- 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.
- While the hummus is resting, wash and dry all produce.
- Preheat the oven to 300F.
- 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.
- Bring medium pot of salted water to roaring boil over high heat.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Carefully peel eggs (if they break, it'll be messy) once they are cool enough to work with.
- Whisk reserved chickpea liquid (aquafaba) until it forms a foam, less than a minute.
- Dress the salad; dressing may need a refresher whisking if it has separated.
- Divide English muffins on two plates. Spread with hummus. Add a small handful of the salad on top of the hummus. Top with eggs.
- Dollop the chickpea foam on top. Garnish with paprika and parsley.
- Add more salad to the plate as a side dish.
- Dig in, it's going to taste great.
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 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
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.
- In a medium pot, bring water to a boil with a large pinch of salt
- Add potatoes and boil 15 minutes until tender, but not over-cooked
- Add potatoes back to pot, add oil and slowly incorporate milk while mashing to desired consistency (you may not need all the milk)
- Mix in roasted garlic
- Preheat oven to 350
- 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
- 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
- Let it cool; and when its cool enough to handle, squeeze from bottom so cloves pop out
- Mash before adding to mashed potatoes
- Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot
- Add turkey and season to taste
- Cook until done, breaking up pieces with spatula, about 7 minutes or until browned through
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and then turn the heat off
- Prepare an ice bath
- Blanche carrots in water briefly until just wilted, then dunk in ice bath before removing and setting aside to dry
- Optional: rough chop into 2-3″ pieces to make them easier to eat
- Assembly can be done in any cup or bowl, but it’s festive if you can use clear martini glasses
- 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
- At this point, use a small glass or a shot glass, wrapped in parchment paper, and gently place on top of potatoes
- Position carrots around glass for 2 quarters of the way; pack carrots in
- Add corn on top for the last 1/4
- Carefully remove shot glass, leaving parchment paper, and fill center with turkey mix
- Carefully slip parchment paper out
- Cover turkey with a little more corn if desired (optional)
- 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.
The largest global gathering of who’s who in nutrition just wrapped a successful four days of updates on the latest nutrition science and trends, and brain health was in the spotlight like never before. The conference is hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is dubbed the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE). Here are five ways brain health stole the show.
- The top mind of the MIND diet research was at FNCE. That’s right: Martha Clare Morris, PhD, Rush University Medical Center, and MIND diet research lead presented on the closing day of sessions.
- For the first time ever, the President’s Lecture was devoted to nutrition and how foods can help or harm the brain.
- Awesome RDs who contributed recipes to The MIND Diet book were taking the meeting by storm. Here are just a few: Sharon Palmer, Amy Gorin, and Christy Wilson.
- The MIND Diet book visited with booths featuring MIND diet approved brain-healthy foods: Oldways Whole Grain Council, Dole Chopped Salads, Nut Health, Pulses, Wild Blueberries, Blueberry Council, CA Strawberries, Red Raspberries, and Olive Oil.
- The MIND Diet book itself appeared in cameos with some superstars we’re pretty lucky to be friends with, like fellow authors of healthy eating books, and a group of Columbia University nutrition alumni.
This year’s FNCE meeting was in Boston, and between the waterfront convention center, daily seafood dinners (and some lunches), and the brain nutrition lectures, you won’t be surprised that I was inspired to share a delicious seafood recipe along with this post (bonus MIND foods: berries, leafy greens, and olive oil).
Warm salmon, red onions, and blueberries make a sweet and savory pairing in this salad. It’s perfect for lunch or dinner.
MIND foods: Olive oil, fish, leafy greens, berries
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 35 minutes to prep; 25 minutes to cook
Salmon-Blueberry Salad Ingredients
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced in half rings
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets, cut crosswise in 4 portions
6 cups lettuce leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup fresh blueberries
1. In a microwaveable cup, combine onion, red wine vinegar, half the salt, and half the pepper; cover loosely with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 minute. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until onions turn pink, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat grill or broiler. Brush 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on both sides of the salmon fillets; sprinkle with remaining . teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon of pepper. Grill or broil salmon, skin side down, until just cooked through, about 6 minutes. Divide lettuce leaves among four dinner plates and place salmon in the center. With a slotted spoon, remove onions from vinegar; scatter onions, along with the blueberries, over and around the fish. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into the vinegar mixture. Drizzle vinaigrette over salmon.