Pomegranate Mandarin Basil Champagne Spritzer

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!

Basil plant + pomegranate fruit
Basil plant + pomegranate fruit
fresh pomegranates, I picked from the Central Valley orchards
fresh pomegranates, I picked from the Central Valley orchards
Patron orange liqueur
Patron orange liqueur
Mostly pomegranate arils, with some pith, membrane, and peel
Mostly pomegranate arils, with some pith, membrane, and peel
Pomegranates and mandarins and simmering
Pomegranates and mandarins and simmering
Syrup consistency
Syrup consistency
Add basil
Add basil
Stir basil in for about a minute
Stir basil in for about a minute
Strain
Strain
Resulting in about half a cup of syrup
Resulting in about half a cup of syrup

Pomegranate Mandarin Basil Champagne Spritzer
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Excellent fresh ingredients are at the heart of this - fresh pomegranates (from my mom's tree), mandarin oranges, and basil. I can imagine trying to sub in rosemary for the basil, for an earthier fall flavor, but my basil plant is still going strong and smells amazing (perks of living in California), so that's what I used. No good cocktail is overly sweet, so if that's what you're looking for, you've come to the wrong place. This cocktail is mildly sweet, sufficiently tart, and has a touch of herbaceousness. These are real flavors, no added sugar to mask or enhance poor ingredients.
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Heat water over medium heat until simmering.
  2. Add pomegranate arils, membrane, pith and peel.
  3. Stir with wide wooden spoon, carefully crushing arils to release juice without splattering, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add mandarin pieces and continue to simmer and crushing with back of wooden spoon to release juices, about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Continue to stir occasionally, smashing arils and mandarin pieces as needed, until reduced to a syrup consistency, about 3-5 minutes more.
  6. Add basil and stir for about a minute to infuse flavors.
  7. Strain to produce about a half-cup of liquid.
  8. If using, add orange liqueur to strained liquid and stir.
  9. Cool until use.
  10. To serve, add a tablespoon of syrup to champagne flute, top with champagne, garnish with fresh pomegranate arils, basil leaf, mandarin zest. Enjoy.

 

Eggstravanza with Garam Masala Hummus & Pomegranate Baby Kale Salad

yummy runny eggsSometimes 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

eggstravaganza
Food Safety Tip

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.

Eggstravanza with Garam Masala Hummus & Pomegranate Baby Kale Salad
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Brunch
Cuisine: New American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
A perfectly soft-boiled egg sits on a bed of baby power greens, atop an English muffin spread with garam masala hummus. Pomegranate arils are everywhere, and that's a good thing. The egg is garnished with smoked Spanish paprika and chickpea aquafaba foam.
Ingredients
Garam-Masala Hummus
  • 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)
Salad
  • 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)
Other
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 whole grain English muffins
Instructions
Hummus
  1. Combine all ingredients except chickpea liquid and parsley in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth.
  2. Taste before seasoning with any salt or pepper. Season to taste. Flavors may melt together and develop more after resting.
  3. Cover and let rest in refrigerator.
  4. 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.
Salad & Eggs & Toast
  1. While the hummus is resting, wash and dry all produce.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  3. 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.
  4. Bring medium pot of salted water to roaring boil over high heat.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Carefully peel eggs (if they break, it'll be messy) once they are cool enough to work with.
  9. Whisk reserved chickpea liquid (aquafaba) until it forms a foam, less than a minute.
  10. Dress the salad; dressing may need a refresher whisking if it has separated.
Plating
  1. Divide English muffins on two plates. Spread with hummus. Add a small handful of the salad on top of the hummus. Top with eggs.
  2. Dollop the chickpea foam on top. Garnish with paprika and parsley.
  3. Add more salad to the plate as a side dish.
  4. Dig in, it's going to taste great.

 

5 Times Brain Health was in the Spotlight at the Year’s Biggest Nutrition Meeting (Plus Recipe!)

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. For the first time ever, the President’s Lecture was devoted to nutrition and how foods can help or harm the brain. 
  3. 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.
  4. The MIND Diet book visited with booths featuring MIND diet approved brain-healthy foods: Oldways Whole Grain Council, Dole Chopped SaladsNut Health, PulsesWild Blueberries, Blueberry Council, CA Strawberries, Red Raspberries, and Olive Oil.
  5. 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).

Salmon and Blueberry Salad with Red Onion Vinaigretteblueberry-council-salmon-and-blueberry-salad

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

Difficulty: Easy

 

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

 

Directions

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.

Nutrition: 290 calories, 16 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 30 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber

Recipe and image courtesy of U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council

What Makes a Meal MIND-Worthy?

MIND Diet book author is a registered dietitian, and culinary school trained, so recipes are healthy and delicious
MIND Diet book author in her chef whites

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):

  1. Whole grains – 3x per day (i.e. daily)
  2. Vegetables – 1x per day (i.e. daily)
  3. Leafy green vegetables – 6x per week
  4. Nuts – 5x per week (e.g. a daily snack during the workweek)
  5. Beans – 3-4x per week (i.e. about every other day)
  6. Berries – 2x per week (e.g. fresh berries over 2 to 3 days, or frozen berries anytime)
  7. Poultry – 2x per week
  8. Fish – 1x per week
  9. Olive oil – use daily (I like CA Olive Ranch because it has a seal of authenticity from California Olive Oil Commission)
  10. 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):

  1. Butter/solid fats – less than a tablespoon per day
  2. Pastries/sweets – less than 5x per week
  3. Red meat – less than 4x per week
  4. Fried/fast foods – less than 1x per week (e.g. one or two times a month)
  5. 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?

Creamy Berry Smoothie

This superfood smoothie features the berries most researched for brain health: blueberries and strawberries. A protein bonus comes from the almond butter and soft tofu, a mild-tasting and very blendable kind of tofu that incorporates seamlessly into soups and smoothies, where it adds a high-protein, vegetarian and dairy-free creaminess.

MIND foods: Nuts, beans, berries

Prep time: 5 minutes

Skill level: Easy

 

Ingredients

1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup soft tofu, drained

1 T almond butter

1/2 cup unsweetened almond-coconut milk

1 medium ice cube, optional

blueberries, almond milk, almond butter, strawberries, soft tofu
ingredient

 

Instructions

Combine all ingredients into a blender. Pulse until fully combined. Additional ice cubes may be added for a colder temperature or thinner consistency, according to preference.

 

Nutrition: 180 calories, 8 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 6 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 5 g fiber