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.
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):
- Whole grains – 3x per day (i.e. daily)
- Vegetables – 1x per day (i.e. daily)
- Leafy green vegetables – 6x per week
- Nuts – 5x per week (e.g. a daily snack during the workweek)
- Beans – 3-4x per week (i.e. about every other day)
- Berries – 2x per week (e.g. fresh berries over 2 to 3 days, or frozen berries anytime)
- Poultry – 2x per week
- Fish – 1x per week
- Olive oil – use daily (I like CA Olive Ranch because it has a seal of authenticity from California Olive Oil Commission)
- 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):
- Butter/solid fats – less than a tablespoon per day
- Pastries/sweets – less than 5x per week
- Red meat – less than 4x per week
- Fried/fast foods – less than 1x per week (e.g. one or two times a month)
- 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?
I think the MIND diet is pretty great, but as The MIND Diet book author, I’m definitely biased. That’s why I’m happy to share that I’m not the only one who is a fan! See what the experts at The Food Network, U.S. News & World Report, Nutrition 411 and more have to say.
Food Network’s Healthy Eats
In “Exploring the MIND Diet,” Food Network Healthy Eats blogger Toby Amidor, MS, RD says, “Diets come and go, but the MIND Diet has the potential to cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in half and keep the brain more than seven years younger. The author of The MIND Diet, nutrition expert Maggie Moon, M.S., RDN, claims this approach to nutrition “is heart-healthy and a solid foundation for healthy eating for just about anyone.” So what exactly does the MIND Diet entail?” Read the full review on the Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog.
Sharon Palmer, Plant-Powered Dietitian
In an interview with the Plant-Powered Dietitian, Sharon Palmer, RD, who wrote the foreword for The MIND Diet, we chatted about the inspiration behind the book, my personal diet and health philosophy as well as key benefits of eating the MIND way. She also got me to pick just 3 top tips to following the MIND diet and the 5 plant-based foods I can’t live without (it was so hard to choose!). Read the full MIND Diet interview.
On nutrition hub site Nutrition411.com, Karen Buch, RDN, LDN writes, “I think dietitians will look to this book as a resource for patients, family members, and themselves. Everyone can benefit from slowing down the normal, age-related downturn in cognitive abilities that we all face. Moon points out that eating for brain health is most effective before symptoms of cognitive decline develop. So, don’t delay—consider getting your copy today!” Read the full MIND Diet book review.
To Live and Diet in LA
To Live and Diet in LA blogger and RD-to-be Whitney English says, “As you can see, this so-called “diet” isn’t strict at all. There’s still room for the bi-weekly indulgence, a little butter, and even a juicy steak. In fact, your current eating habits may already meet these suggestions. Plus, any meal plan that makes room for red wine is A OK in my book!” Find out what’s got her hooked on healthy eating for prevention, and her full MIND Diet book review.
Health writer and dietitian Liz Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT of Shaw’s Simple Swaps asks, “But what if I told you there were two things that could boost your brain that didn’t involve any fees or long-term memberships? Maggie Moon, M.S., R.D.N., author of the upcoming book, The MIND Diet, says there are foods you should focus on eating that not only help promote a healthy body, but also help improve the health of the mind.” Read her full Fitness magazine story on the MIND diet.
U.S. News & World Report
Want to know how to make the MIND diet work for you? Writer and dietitian Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD covers 8 diet changes that can boost your brain health, and points readers to The MIND Diet book for more info on the eating plan and recipes. Read her full U.S. News story on the MIND diet.
About The MIND Diet Book
The MIND Diet book is now available! It includes meal plans, recipes, and a guide to creating your own MIND diet plan to slow cognitive decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The MIND diet sets simple and practical guidelines for everyday eating that are based in sophisticated brain health research published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The eating plan is a hybrid of the heart-healthy Mediterranean- and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets, and then tailored to focus on the foods shown to enhance brain health in the scientific literature.