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.
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:
- You can start with frozen bananas from the freezer aisle.
- 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.
- 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.
Prep: 1 min | Cook: 3 min | Total: 4 min
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
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.
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:
The 11 must-read books for 65+ seniors - incl #MINDdiet http://bit.ly/2sVBfZm Click To Tweet
“… 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.”
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.”
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 website 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!
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Nothing says holiday hospitality like being greeted with a champagne cocktail. Even better for all you discerning hosts and hostesses out there, its easy to put artisanal homemade love into such a concoction *ahead of time* (read: less hassle on the day-of). So you can feel like this is something special you’ve done for your guests (which it is), without having to add it to the juggling act on the day of a get together. This is not a sugary headache in the making. It is naturally mildly sweet with a balance of tartness and herbaceousness. If you try it, please let me know!
- ¼ cup water
- 1 medium pomegranate, yields a cup pomegranate arils, plus extra arils to use as garnish - keep this reserved to the side; keep some membrane, pith and peel reserved,
- 1 seedless mandarin orange, quartered and then each quarter halved
- 1 cup fresh loosely packed basil leaves, rinsed, dried and roughly chopped or torn
- optional: 1 oz orange liqueur (I used Patron Citronge orange liqueur premium reserve 80 proof)
- optional: 1 mandarin for peels of zest as garnish
- optional: basil leaves for garnish
- Heat water over medium heat until simmering.
- Add pomegranate arils, membrane, pith and peel.
- Stir with wide wooden spoon, carefully crushing arils to release juice without splattering, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add mandarin pieces and continue to simmer and crushing with back of wooden spoon to release juices, about 2-3 minutes.
- Continue to stir occasionally, smashing arils and mandarin pieces as needed, until reduced to a syrup consistency, about 3-5 minutes more.
- Add basil and stir for about a minute to infuse flavors.
- Strain to produce about a half-cup of liquid.
- If using, add orange liqueur to strained liquid and stir.
- Cool until use.
- To serve, add a tablespoon of syrup to champagne flute, top with champagne, garnish with fresh pomegranate arils, basil leaf, mandarin zest. Enjoy.
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.