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.
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.
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.
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.
MIND diet foods: Vegetables, olive oil, nuts, berries
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).
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.
MIND foods: Leafy greens, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil
Prep: 15-30 min | Cook: 1 hr 10 min | Total: 1 hr 15 min
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
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
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
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.
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.
Trail Mix with Freeze-Dried Strawberries, Almonds, Popcorn and Chewy Banana Bites
Prep: 5 min | Total: 5 min
- 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
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
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