This sweet treat can be yours in 30 minutes with the help of three simple ingredients: strawberries, dark chocolate, and pistachios. They feel special, yet are surprisingly simple to make. It’s not too late to pick up the three ingredients and make these for someone this weekend (p.s. including for yourself, for some self love and self care this weekend)!
It’s the perfect way to say I love you so much I want you to be healthy, whether you’re enjoying Valentine’s, Galentine’s, American Heart Month, or every day brain health this February.
- 8 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks
- 16 oz strawberries (about 20-25), long-stemmed if available
- ½ cup heaping pistachio kernels
- Fill a small pot with about an inch of water and heat over medium-low heat. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat mat, parchment paper, or wax paper.
- While you wait for the water to simmer, wash and dry the strawberries, making sure to dry them thoroughly. Roughly chop the pistachios. Optional step: place in a fine mesh strainer and sift out fine dust. Set pistachio pieces aside.
- When the water simmers, place a heat-tempered bowl on top of the pot, not touching the water. Lower heat if necessary to keep it at a simmer. Fill the bowl with the chocolate chunks and stir occasionally until it is fully melted, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Assemble your treats! Set up an assembly line of strawberries, chocolate, pistachios, and then the baking sheet. Dip a strawberry in the chocolate, twirling to evenly coat, sprinkle with pistachios, then place on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strawberries. Either chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to force the chocolate to set, or let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes to set. Enjoy within 1-2 days.
I asked on Instagram, how can I help? I heard , “simple meal prep ideas, please!”
I’m here for it. For starters, here’s a simple no-bake homemade granola bar recipe that you make once, but will enjoy all week!
It’s simple but not #basic, and you’ll enjoy favors that are delicious and familiar yet on trend, like tahini and date caramel.
Here’s the date caramel just getting started with a handful of dates:
I ended up using 25 deglet dates so that there was enough physical ‘stuff’ to blend, even in my mini-food chopper. This is the date caramel with dates and water – so simple:
Makes about a cup:
Here are all the ingredients. First row: organic oats, lightly salted pistachios, dried wild blueberries, chia seeds; second row: date caramel, tahini, roasted sesame seeds, Maldon salt.
I put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (the wild blueberries are a little sticky, so not quite dry, but not quite wet either. They went in the big bowl). The small bowl is the date caramel and tahini. The sesame seeds and salt stay on the side until one of the last steps.
As I combined all the “dry” ingredients, I took the opportunity to separate some of the wild blueberries that stuck together.
And here’s what it looks like after pressing down with a straight-walled glass (like a Collins glass):
- Serves: 16
- Serving size: 1 bar
- Calories: 110
- Fat: 4.5g
- Saturated fat: 0.5g
- Unsaturated fat: 4g
- Trans fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 17g
- Sugar: 10g
- Sodium: 20mg
- Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 3g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- 1 cup lightly salted pistachios
- 1 cup dried wild blueberries
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 25 dates (neglet noor or medjool)
- 5 Tbsp warm water
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds
- ½ tsp flaky salt (e.g. Maldon)
- Optional: toast oats (preheat oven to 350F, spread on a large sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes).
- In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: oats, pistachios, blueberries and chia seeds, breaking up any blueberries that may be sticking together.
- In a small food processor, make the date caramel: blend dates and water until smooth, pausing periodically to scrape down sides as needed, about 5 minutes total.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the wet ingredients: date caramel and tahini.
- Add the date-tahini mix to the large bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix with a silicone spatula until well-incorporated (alternate methods: clean hands, plastic gloved hands).
- Spread the mixture evenly in a parchment paper or Silpat-lined small rimmed sheet pan (I used an 8” x 11.5” pan, but 8” x 8” also works)
- Cover and freeze for 20 minutes. Gently invert out onto a flat surface and cut into 16 bars. Start by cutting in half lengthwise, then cut across widthwise in half, then cut each half in half two more times (7 cuts widthwise).
- Store in an air-tight container in a cool dry place for a few days, a week in the refrigerator, or up to three months in the freezer.
I’ve never been a morning person. Growing up, the few things that would get me out of bed voluntarily included Christmas morning, the first day of school, and my favorite breakfast dishes. One such dish was an apple-cinnamon eggy-pancake-like thing that my mom made in a pie dish, which of course made me feel like I was eating dessert for breakfast.
Now that it’s getting cooler, this kind of warm and cozy breakfast is all I want in life. My version is more of a crumble than a pancake, but the feeling it gives me is the same: it’s something worth rolling out of bed for. My grown-up version includes brain-boosting wild blueberries, whole grain oats, heart-healthy olive oil, and warm holiday spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Once you try it and you see how easy it is to make, it’ll be easy to swap in different season fruit and play around with the topping, too.
Start by getting your ingredients together. First, make the topping. Then, make the filling.
Bake for 30 minutes until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is browned.
- ½ cup organic rolled oats
- ½ cup Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour
- ¼ cup Swerve granulated “sugar”
- ¼ cup almond slivers
- ¼ cup raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened organic coconut chips
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Generous pinch of salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 16-oz bag of frozen wild blueberries (about 3.5 cups)
- 2 oz dried mission figs (about ⅓ cup lightly packed, or 10-12 small and medium figs), coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 1 lemon, zest from the whole lemon, juice from half the lemon
- 1 tsp Watkins baking vanilla extract
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Make the topping. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Stir until evenly combined. Add in the olive oil and combine until moistened.
- Make the filling. In another medium mixing bowl, combine the blueberries, figs, arrowroot powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Stir until well combined.
- Lightly grease a 9-inch diameter baking dish with olive oil or butter. Add the filling. Add topping evenly over the filling.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Fruit should be bubbling and topping should be browned. If not, let cook another 5 minutes and check again. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
It’s tasty all on it’s own, but it’d be just as good with a side of yogurt like Siggi’s new lactose-free yogurt.
Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Egg Nutrition Center. I was compensated for my time. As always, all opinions are my own.
Trendy, hot, and hearty, bibimbap can be a medley of surprisingly good-for-you comfort foods that come together in one nutritionally-balanced bowl of a meal. It brings me special joy to share a delicious recipe that is part of my culture and can help boost brain health. If you’re familiar with Korean food, you’ll recognize the palate personality (flavor profile) of gochujang (Korean chili paste), gochugaru (Korean chili pepper, coarse grounds), garlic, sesame oil, and radishes.
What you may not know is that bibimbap is a kitchen sink kind of meal. It’s the meal my grandmother made every once in awhile, to clear away lots of leftovers. That’s because it literally means “mixed rice,” with the subtext, “rice mixed with _____,” aka, whatever you have on hand. It’s the answer to those quietly pleading leftovers in the back of your refrigerator, trying to catch your attention – pick me, pick me. With bibimbap, it’s all possible. Look mom, no more food waste! Served with a freshly cooked egg, it feels like something new.
If I were more of a meal planner, bibimbap would be my Friday meal. The one where all the leftover bits of veg and shroom from earlier in the week would find new life under a gloriously gooey egg. Because you definitely have to #putaneggonit. Thinking about this Friday meal might even motivate me to cook more vegetables Monday to Thursday just so I’d have choice odds and ends for my Friday bowl.
Formula for Success
If you already have an amazing assortment of leftovers in your fridge, you are ahead of the game, and 80-percent of the way to a bowl of bibimbap. If one of your leftovers is rice, then make that 90-percent. This is because bibimbap is secretly like any other grain bowl at its core (don’t tell). Here’s the formula for success:
Bowl + rice + vegetables + freshly cooked sunny side up egg + jang (sauce)
Option 1: Add some fish or poultry from a prior meal
Option 2: Top with dried seaweed and/or sesame seeds
However, if you’re a first-timer and want to do this from go, I’ve got you. And so I have for you today a freshly made bibimbap recipe from start to finish. Mine uses the vegetables that show up in Korean food a lot, like mushrooms. Koreans love mushrooms. I once went to a town in South Korea with statues of mushrooms where I stopped to have a soup with more than 20 varieties of mushrooms. And that was just the starter. I also include zucchini, mung bean sprouts, and spinach. These veggies are based by whole grain brown rice, and topped with a sunny-side up egg.
MIND foods: Whole grains, leafy green vegetables, other vegetables, olive oil
Other brain-boosting bona fides: This meal includes ingredients like eggs and spices that have their own brain-health cred, though they are not (yet) specifically part of the MIND diet. Research suggests eating eggs promotes brain health in adults and children. Eggs are one of the few food sources that provide both lutein and choline, which are two nutrients important for brain development. Learn more in this educational video I worked on with the Egg Nutrition Center. Further, phytonutrients in spices like chili flakes show neuroprotectant potential in emerging research.
Pro tip: If you have more vegetables on hand than called for, feel free to cook it up and serve it on the side of this otherwise one-bowl meal. Having more veggies around is a good thing.
- 4 cups cooked brown rice (can sub any whole grain rice)
- 1 large bunch of spinach, 10 oz
- 1.5 tsp sesame oil, divided
- 1 tsp olive oil, more as needed
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 medium zucchini
- 8 oz mung bean sprouts
- 8 oz shiitake mushrooms
- 1 large carrot
- 2 cups mu saengchae (see separate recipe)
- 4 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional garnishes: green onion, sesame seeds, dried seaweed strips
- ⅓ cup gochujang
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame seed oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 5 oz. Jeju radish (can sub daikon radish)
- 2 tsp brown rice vinegar (can sub any light vinegar)
- 1 tsp gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes; can sub crushed red pepper flakes)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Make rice according to package directions, on the stove top, or in a rice cooker.
- Fill a medium pot about half way full with water and heat until boiling.
- While the rice cooks and water boils, wash, dry, and prep all the produce. Note that mushrooms should be wiped clean with a damp paper towel or clean cloth towel, otherwise they absorb too much water.
- Peel the radish, and scrub or peel the carrots. For large produce like the radish, a Y-peeler is the ideal tool to use for the job.
- Julienne cut the zucchini, carrot, and radish. They don’t have to be textbook perfect julienne cuts. First cut your long veg into approximately 3” pieces. Then slice lengthwise into planks. Then slice each plank into thin matchsticks.
- Set zucchini in a paper-towel lined fine mesh strainer. Squeeze and drain excess liquid after 10 minutes.
- Cut mushrooms into ¼” slices
- Measure out all the other ingredients
- In a small bowl, mix together the Jang ingredients and set aside for at least 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- In a medium bowl, combine all Mu Saengchae ingredients, tossing gently to combine. You can adjust how much of the chili flakes to use, depending on how spicy you’d like it to be. Disposable thin plastic kitchen gloves make this really simple and mess-free, but clean hands also work great.
- Once water is boiling, prepare a large ice bath in a large bowl with ice and water. Blanch carrots in boiling water for 1-3 minutes or until just slightly wilted, then transfer to ice bath and agitate for 30 seconds or until cool. Set aside to dry. Squeeze and drain excess liquid before adding to a small bowl with ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil. Season with salt to taste.
- In the boiling water used for the carrots, blanch the bean sprouts for 3-5 minutes until wilted. Transfer to the ice bath and repeat remaining steps used for carrots.
- Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat with 1 tsp olive oil. Add spinach and 1 minced garlic clove. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 60-90 seconds or until wilted. Squeeze and drain excess liquid, cut into 2-3” pieces, toss with ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil, set aside.
- In the same pan used for the spinach (add a little olive oil if pan is dry), sauté the zucchini for 60-90 seconds or until just wilted. Squeeze and drain excess liquid, toss with ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil, set aside.
- In the same pan used for the spinach and zucchini, heat ½ teaspoon sesame oil until hot but not smoking. Add mushrooms, season with salt to taste. Sauté until well-wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Drain excess liquid and set aside.
- Divide rice among 4 bowls. Arrange spinach, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, and sprouts so they are each visible and lay from the center of the bowl out, like spokes of a wheel.
- In a non-stick pan, heat a little olive oil until hot but not smoking, then cook sunny-side up eggs until the tops of the egg whites are set, about 2-3 minutes. Top each bowl with a freshly cooked egg. Add any optional garnishes, if using. Enjoy!
In Korean this dish is called “hobakjuk,” which can technically refer to zucchini or winter squash porridge. However, it most commonly refers to a porridge that celebrates the sweet winter squash called danhobak (it is also known as kabocha squash). The short-grain brown rice in this dish is a plant-based way to enhance its silky creamy texture.
MIND diet foods: Vegetables, Whole Grains, Nuts
- ½ cup sweet brown rice
- 1 medium kabocha squash, about 4 lbs measured whole
- 6 cups of water, ½ cup of water
- Salt to taste
- Recommended garnishes: jujube (red dates), sliced; pine nuts, roasted sesame seeds
- Optional: honey
- ½ cup sweet rice flour
- 5 tablespoons of water
- Rinse and drain brown rice in cool water 3 to 5 times. Soak rice in clean water for at least 1 hour (can be done a day ahead).
- Preheat oven to 400F, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, soften the squash. Wash squash well, then pierce several times with a fork or knife and place in a large microwave safe bowl with 3 inches of water. Cook for 4 minutes. Flip the squash over, and cook for another 4 minutes. Let squash rest until cool enough to handle, then cut into 2-4 pieces and toss with a neutral oil, then place cut side down on a lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Let rest until cool enough to handle, then remove skins. It's 6-8 cups.
- While squash is roasting, make the thickening liquid. Drain soaked rice and add to blender with ½ cup of water. Blend on high until liquified, and set aside until ready to use. Quickly rinse out the blender.
- Blend the squash in batches, gradually adding 6 cups of water, until smooth. Move blended squash to a large pot and heat on low.
- Slowly stir in brown rice-water mixture and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and salt to taste.
- Meanwhile, make the rice cake dumplings. Start a medium pot of water to boil, and set up a large bowl of cold ice water.
- Heat 5 tablespoons of water, e.g. in microwave or tea kettle.
- Place rice flour in a medium bowl and stir in hot water gradually until cool enough to handle, then knead dough for a few minutes.
- Pinch off a ½ teaspoon at a time and roll dough between palms to form small balls (makes about 30 of them)
- Drop into boiling water for 1-2 minutes, until they float
- Remove rice cake dumplings with a slotted spoon and place in cold water bath until ready to use
- Pour soup into bowls, add a few rice cake dumplings to each, and garnish as desired. Drizzle with honey if using. Enjoy.
This breakfast salad is one part left-overs, one part citrusy-goodness, and one part flawless sunny side up egg. Take last night’s roasted sweet potatoes and create something new in the morning by combining with organic baby spinach, and zesty orange-balsamic vinaigrette, and a surprise twist: granny smith apples.
These flavors sing together. Put an egg on it, and you’ve got all the protein (and brain-boosting choline) and beta-carotene rich veggie power you’ll need to get your day started on the right foot.
MIND diet foods: Leafy greens, other vegetables, olive oil
- 1 large organic sweet potato, 10-12" (mine was 1 lb 4 oz)
- ½ large red onion, diced
- ⅓ cup (approx) olive oil, divided into 1 tbsp, 4 tbsp, 1-2 tsp
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 orange, zest and juice (2 tbsp orange juice, 1 tsp orange zest. You may have extra)
- ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 green apple
- 5 oz pre-washed organic baby spinach (about 6-8 cups loosely packed)
- 4 eggs
- 8 sprigs Italian parsley
- Preheat oven to 450.
- While the oven is preheating, wash and dry all produce, and prep the hash.
- Remove any eyes from the sweet potato leaving as much skin intact as possible.
- Dice the sweet potato (makes about 4 cups) and red onion (makes about 1 cup), then combine in a large bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.
- On a large baking sheet, arrange in a single layer and roast for 25 minutes, turning about halfway through.
- While the potatoes roast, make the dressing. Whisk together 4 tbsp olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Slice green apple into thin slices or cubes (makes about 1 cup) and toss with a little bit of orange juice to keep from browning.
- In a large bowl, combine baby spinach, parsley, and dressing to coat.
- Fold in the apples.
- Heat 1-2 tsp olive oil in a pan on low heat.
- Divide dressed salad in 4 bowls.
- Slowly crack eggs into the frying pan to reduce egg white spreading and heat over low heat until whites become opaque (3-4 minutes). Season with salt to taste.
- Divide hash on top of the 4 salads, and top each with an egg.
- Garnish with any extra parsley or orange zest, if desired
The bright and tangy, yet creamy and rich avocado-lime dressing contrasts with aromatically sweet mango, buttery avocado, raw almonds, and perfect blueberries in this sunshine-inspired breakfast salad. The bed of baby red butter lettuce makes a gentle base. Every bit of this unique breakfast salad sets you up for a great day.
The plant protein in the almonds keep blood sugar even, while the mango and blueberries provide polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to energize you. In recent research on brain health, leafy greens, nuts, berries, and olive oil all helped protect the brain against cognitive decline — and they’re all right here in this morning delight.
MIND diet foods: Leafy greens, olive oil, nuts, berries
- 1 medium mango
- 2 large limes
- 1 medium avocado
- 10 sprigs of cilantro
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 5 oz pre-washed baby red butter lettuce (about 6-8 cups, loosely packed)
- 6 oz organic blueberries (about 1¼ cups)
- ½ cup almonds
- salt and pepper to taste
- Wash and dry all produce.
- Peel the mango, slice away two large "cheeks" of the mango and slice thinly lengthwise. It ends up being about 1 and ¼ cups loosely packed.
- Peel away the green of a lime, avoiding the bitter white pith, and mince (or use a zester) to make 1 tsp of zest (part of one lime), set aside.
- Cut the limes in half and juice to make 3 tbsp juice. Save the leftover lime halves.
- Cut the avocado in half, discard the seed, and peel away the skin. Use leftover lime halves to squeeze lime juice over the avocado to keep it from browning.
- Make the dressing. Using a hand-blender (or small blender/ food processor), combine half the avocado, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro, and olive oil in a tall mixing glass, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 3 oz of dressing.
- In a large bowl, combine lettuce, mango, blueberries, and almonds with dressing. Plastic gloves help.
- Slice the remaining half of avocado widthwise.
- Divide salad and among 4 bowls, about 1-2 cups into each bowl. Top with avocado slices. Garnish with extra cilantro if desired.
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!
- 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
- 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.
- Arrange pineapple slices and strawberries on a plate, and drizzle liquid mixture over.
- Garnish with pink salt and mint leaves, if desired.
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.