I was invited to a lovely birthday gathering at a friend’s home in Venice Beach, and was excited to bring something to share with the group. I wanted it to be fresh, flavorful, and satisfying, while being easy enough to sample among a mix of offerings (I was not the only one bringing something to share!). This awesome recipe is the result – it’s my take on a chicken curry salad, with excellent ingredients and add-ins, served with delicate butter lettuce cups.
MIND foods: Poultry, vegetables, nuts, leafy greens
Yield: 8 servings
Time: 30 minutes active; 30 minutes inactive
Chicken Curry Salad Ingredients
2 cups chicken broth (I used a store-bought organic chicken broth, but this is a great way to use any homemade broth you may have laying around in the fridge or freezer)
1/2 cup almond slivers, toasted
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I made my own with olive oil, see below if you want to, too)
1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast (I used Kosher)
5 teaspoons mild curry powder (I used a mild aromatic curry)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (plus extra for adjusting to taste at the end)
6 oz cup plain strained yogurt (e.g. Greek or Icelandic yogurt works great)
1 teaspoon honey (I used an organic raw honey from Wholesome)
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and minced (peel it with a spoon; you’ll thank me later)
1 medium red onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and small diced (this adds such an awesome crunch)
1 1/2 cup seedless grapes, halved or quartered (depending how big they are) – pick your favorite, I used a mix of red, green, and black California table grapes (these are so crisp and sweet right now)
2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated
salt and pepper to taste
Chicken Curry Salad Directions
Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash, dry, and prep all fresh produce. Spread almond slivers in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes (check after 5 minutes), until lightly browned.
On medium heat, combine chicken broth and 3 cups of water in a medium pot. On low heat, add curry and ginger powder to a small saute pan, stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels. When liquid is simmering, add chicken (it should be covered by the liquid), adjust heat to maintain a simmer if needed. Cook, uncovered, for 7 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from the pot and let rest on a cutting board for at least 10 minutes.
While chicken is cooking, make the mayonnaise (see directions below) if making, and set aside in refrigerator. (Do it, you know you want to.)
In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice, honey, curry and ginger powder mix, and fresh ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Add in onion, bell peppers, grapes, and almonds, gently stirring to coat (I used a soft spatula for this part).
When chicken is cool enough to handle, dice into bite-size pieces (~ 1/2 inch squares). Gently fold chicken into main salad mixture, using a soft spatula or gloved hands.
Taste it. If it needs adjusting, seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, and lime juice. For my tastes, I ended up adding another tablespoon of lime juice just at the end.
Make Your Own Mayonnaise (It’s simple, I promise)
1 egg yolk (since these stay raw, I’d use pasteurized raw eggs from Davidson’s Safe Eggs)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (got mine from Trader Joe’s – the smooth kind, not the grainy one for this recipe)
1/2 cup olive oil (I used “Everyday” extra-virgin olive oil by California Olive Ranch)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard together until smooth and homegenous. Season with salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, constantly whisking to keep mixture smooth. See, super easy, and tastes so much better than store bought.
Nutrition: 280 calories, 20 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 14 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber
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):
- Whole grains – 3x per day (i.e. daily)
- Vegetables – 1x per day (i.e. daily)
- Leafy green vegetables – 6x per week
- Nuts – 5x per week (e.g. a daily snack during the workweek)
- Beans – 3-4x per week (i.e. about every other day)
- Berries – 2x per week (e.g. fresh berries over 2 to 3 days, or frozen berries anytime)
- Poultry – 2x per week
- Fish – 1x per week
- Olive oil – use daily (I like CA Olive Ranch because it has a seal of authenticity from California Olive Oil Commission)
- 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):
- Butter/solid fats – less than a tablespoon per day
- Pastries/sweets – less than 5x per week
- Red meat – less than 4x per week
- Fried/fast foods – less than 1x per week (e.g. one or two times a month)
- 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?
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
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
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