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.
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 frittata lets seasonal summer ingredients shine, but can be enjoyed year-round with a few swaps for whatever produce is local and in season. Summer smells like basil and tastes like sweet corn, which means this frittata is going to be a seasonal favorite.
- 6 eggs
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ small onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup zucchini, shredded
- ½ cup of sweet corn, from fresh, frozen or canned
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeds removed, and diced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 6 small basil leaves (optional, for garnish)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a medium bowl, lightly whisk eggs until uniform, then add pepper and salt to taste. Set aside.
- Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a 12” oven-safe skillet over medium heat then sauté onion, zucchini, sweet corn, and bell pepper until fragrant and wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a colander where excess liquid may drain; gently press on vegetables with a wooden spoon to assist draining.
- Meanwhile, bring the now empty skillet back to the stove, and heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and half the chopped basil and sauté until just combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the drained mixed vegetables back into the dish and stir to combine for another minute. Pour egg mixture and remaining chopped basil into pan and stir gently. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes to allow the egg to start setting; the edges will start to pull away from the pan.
- Place pan into oven and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Let rest 2 minutes before serving. If desired, garnish with basil leaves.
MIND foods: Vegetables, poultry, olive oil
Nutrition: 180 calories, 9 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 15 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber
I love summer for the bounty of stone fruit. In my excitement, sometimes I buy too much, and it gets overripe for my taste as a snack on its own. If this happens to you too, don’t throw it out, do what chefs have done throughout time with still-ok-but-overripe produce: make soup. Don’t forget to taste along the way to get the flavor you want.
MIND foods: Wine, Olive Oil
Yield: 6-8 servings
Time: 10 minutes plus chilling time (at least 30 minutes)
- 4 medium ripe yellow nectarines, cored and large chopped
- 1/2 ripe California avocado
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp sweet vermouth
- 1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt, or salt to taste
- 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-4 cups cold water
- 4 ice cubes, blended (optional)
- 1 clove shallot, thinly sliced, soaked for 5+ minutes in rice wine vinegar and a pinch of salt
- 1/4 avocado, thinly sliced
Wash and dry all fresh produce before beginning. Prep and measure all ingredients. In a large blender, combine nectarines, avocado, garlic, lime juice, sweet vermouth, vinegars, and salt, and blend until smooth. Slowly drizzle in olive oil and continue to blend. Optional: to speed up cooling, crush ice cubes in a food processor then add to main mixture. Add cold water a little at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to let flavors meld. Garnish just before serving.
Nutrition: 125 calories, 9 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber
Nutrition information based on addition of 2 cups of cold water, and 6 servings yield; ice and garnishes not accounted for.