Coconut Sorghum with Warm Curry and Delicata Squash

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.

 

Recipe

MIND foods: Leafy greens, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil

Prep: 15-30 min | Cook: 1 hr 10 min | Total: 1 hr 15 min

Serves: 4

 

Coconut Sorghum

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

 

Curry

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

Squash

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

 

Method

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.

Fig & Fennel Citrus Salad

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).

 

 

Recipe

MIND foods: Leafy greens, vegetables, berries, olive oil

Prep: 10-15 min | Cook: 5 min | Total: 15-20 min

Serves: 4

Salad Ingredients

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

 

Method

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.

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

Summery Farro Salad

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.

 

Recipe

MIND foods: whole grains, vegetables, nuts, berries

Prep: 10-15 min | Cook: 15-20 min | Total: 25-35 min

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

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)

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method

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.

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.

The MIND Diet Book Featured as Top Book for 65+

11 Must-Reads for Seniors

According to the SeniorHomes.com blog, there are 11 books that you “Need to Read” if you’re among the 46 million American adults age 65 and older. Spoiler alert, The MIND Diet, rounds out their list of must-reads! It is described as:

“… a comprehensive guide to the eating plan that has been proven to boost memory, mental acuity and concentration while slowing cognitive decline during aging. You’ll find detailed information about the science behind her recommendations, recipes you can easily prepare at home, and a list of foods that could be harming your brain health. The plan focuses on consuming whole foods to boost brain health, from leafy greens and vegetables to poultry, olive oil and wine.”

Learn More

Read up on all of their top 11 picks by visiting the full article, 11 Books You Need to Read if You’re Over 65. They promise you’ll be “inspired, challenged, and well informed when you’ve finished one or all of these picks.”

The 11 must-read books for 65+ seniors - incl #MINDdiet http://bit.ly/2sVBfZm Click To Tweet

Your MIND Diet Questions, Answered!

It’s only been four months since The MIND Diet book launched, and in that time I’ve gotten so many great comments and questions via e-mail. I thought I’d go ahead and get some answers out to everyone here, and also open my “office hours” to even more of your questions (see the bottom of this post for a link to a super-quick form to submit questions, and a chance to win a copy of the book).

The response has been amazing. Thank you for the kind words, getting your own copy of the book, letting others know about the book, or doing all three! The book has had success on the Amazon best-seller’s list for Alzheimer’s & Dementia books, and I’m so glad this simple and evidence-based healthy eating pattern is getting attention.

Office Hours are open - ask me anything about the MIND diet! http://svy.mk/2jao6sL Click To Tweet

This Month’s Hot Topic

The number one question I’ve received this month is about eggs and how they fit in the MIND diet. Since they’re not specifically included or excluded in the MIND diet research, people are left wondering if it’s ok to eat eggs.

Q: Are eggs ok on the MIND diet? Answer #ontheblog. Click To Tweet

The Answer on Eggs in the MIND Diet

It’s true, eggs are not called out in the MIND diet one way or another.
I included many recipes in the book and on
this Chicken-basil vegetable frittata with zucchini, bell peppers, and sweet summer corn30017624464_fddc50d40a_owebsite that do include eggs because they are a nutritious, convenient, and affordable protein food, offering important nutrients such as vitamin D, choline, and lean protein. But wait, there’s more.

A new study just came out this month that showed how eating eggs improved cognitive performance. There were improvements in verbal fluency as well as frontal lobe functioning, which is an area of the brain that helps with problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgement, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior. Just to clear up any lingering doubts, it also showed that dietary cholesterol and egg intake are not associated with risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. This is more eggscellent (sorry, I had to) news for omelet lovers everywhere.

The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and was conducted over about 22 years among nearly 2500 older Finnish men.

Ask Me Another!

What else do you want to know? I’m all ears. Please let me know in this really quick questionnaire. As a thank you for your time, you can enter for a chance to win a copy of the book, too!

 

No Really, I’m Dying to Hear From You

What do you want to know about the MIND diet, or nutrition for brain health in general? Want to know more about the science? Or maybe something closer to home, like how to meal plan with MIND diet foods, or healthy alternatives for the brain-harming foods in your fridge.

I really really honestly and truly enjoy hearing your questions, and want to know what you want to know. 🙂 Please let me know in this really quick questionnaire. And don’t forget, there’s a sign up in that questionnaire for a chance to win a copy of the book, too!

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: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 8 servings
  • 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
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: California
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
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