Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Egg Nutrition Center. I was compensated for my time. As always, all opinions are my own.
Trendy, hot, and hearty, bibimbap can be a medley of surprisingly good-for-you comfort foods that come together in one nutritionally-balanced bowl of a meal. It brings me special joy to share a delicious recipe that is part of my culture and can help boost brain health. If you’re familiar with Korean food, you’ll recognize the palate personality (flavor profile) of gochujang (Korean chili paste), gochugaru (Korean chili pepper, coarse grounds), garlic, sesame oil, and radishes.
What you may not know is that bibimbap is a kitchen sink kind of meal. It’s the meal my grandmother made every once in awhile, to clear away lots of leftovers. That’s because it literally means “mixed rice,” with the subtext, “rice mixed with _____,” aka, whatever you have on hand. It’s the answer to those quietly pleading leftovers in the back of your refrigerator, trying to catch your attention – pick me, pick me. With bibimbap, it’s all possible. Look mom, no more food waste! Served with a freshly cooked egg, it feels like something new.
If I were more of a meal planner, bibimbap would be my Friday meal. The one where all the leftover bits of veg and shroom from earlier in the week would find new life under a gloriously gooey egg. Because you definitely have to #putaneggonit. Thinking about this Friday meal might even motivate me to cook more vegetables Monday to Thursday just so I’d have choice odds and ends for my Friday bowl.
Formula for Success
If you already have an amazing assortment of leftovers in your fridge, you are ahead of the game, and 80-percent of the way to a bowl of bibimbap. If one of your leftovers is rice, then make that 90-percent. This is because bibimbap is secretly like any other grain bowl at its core (don’t tell). Here’s the formula for success:
Bowl + rice + vegetables + freshly cooked sunny side up egg + jang (sauce)
Option 1: Add some fish or poultry from a prior meal
Option 2: Top with dried seaweed and/or sesame seeds
However, if you’re a first-timer and want to do this from go, I’ve got you. And so I have for you today a freshly made bibimbap recipe from start to finish. Mine uses the vegetables that show up in Korean food a lot, like mushrooms. Koreans love mushrooms. I once went to a town in South Korea with statues of mushrooms where I stopped to have a soup with more than 20 varieties of mushrooms. And that was just the starter. I also include zucchini, mung bean sprouts, and spinach. These veggies are based by whole grain brown rice, and topped with a sunny-side up egg.
MIND foods: Whole grains, leafy green vegetables, other vegetables, olive oil
Other brain-boosting bona fides: This meal includes ingredients like eggs and spices that have their own brain-health cred, though they are not (yet) specifically part of the MIND diet. Research suggests eating eggs promotes brain health in adults and children. Eggs are one of the few food sources that provide both lutein and choline, which are two nutrients important for brain development. Learn more in this educational video I worked on with the Egg Nutrition Center. Further, phytonutrients in spices like chili flakes show neuroprotectant potential in emerging research.
Pro tip: If you have more vegetables on hand than called for, feel free to cook it up and serve it on the side of this otherwise one-bowl meal. Having more veggies around is a good thing.
- 4 cups cooked brown rice (can sub any whole grain rice)
- 1 large bunch of spinach, 10 oz
- 1.5 tsp sesame oil, divided
- 1 tsp olive oil, more as needed
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 medium zucchini
- 8 oz mung bean sprouts
- 8 oz shiitake mushrooms
- 1 large carrot
- 2 cups mu saengchae (see separate recipe)
- 4 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional garnishes: green onion, sesame seeds, dried seaweed strips
- ⅓ cup gochujang
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame seed oil
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 5 oz. Jeju radish (can sub daikon radish)
- 2 tsp brown rice vinegar (can sub any light vinegar)
- 1 tsp gochugaru (Korean red chile flakes; can sub crushed red pepper flakes)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Make rice according to package directions, on the stove top, or in a rice cooker.
- Fill a medium pot about half way full with water and heat until boiling.
- While the rice cooks and water boils, wash, dry, and prep all the produce. Note that mushrooms should be wiped clean with a damp paper towel or clean cloth towel, otherwise they absorb too much water.
- Peel the radish, and scrub or peel the carrots. For large produce like the radish, a Y-peeler is the ideal tool to use for the job.
- Julienne cut the zucchini, carrot, and radish. They don’t have to be textbook perfect julienne cuts. First cut your long veg into approximately 3” pieces. Then slice lengthwise into planks. Then slice each plank into thin matchsticks.
- Set zucchini in a paper-towel lined fine mesh strainer. Squeeze and drain excess liquid after 10 minutes.
- Cut mushrooms into ¼” slices
- Measure out all the other ingredients
- In a small bowl, mix together the Jang ingredients and set aside for at least 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- In a medium bowl, combine all Mu Saengchae ingredients, tossing gently to combine. You can adjust how much of the chili flakes to use, depending on how spicy you’d like it to be. Disposable thin plastic kitchen gloves make this really simple and mess-free, but clean hands also work great.
- Once water is boiling, prepare a large ice bath in a large bowl with ice and water. Blanch carrots in boiling water for 1-3 minutes or until just slightly wilted, then transfer to ice bath and agitate for 30 seconds or until cool. Set aside to dry. Squeeze and drain excess liquid before adding to a small bowl with ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil. Season with salt to taste.
- In the boiling water used for the carrots, blanch the bean sprouts for 3-5 minutes until wilted. Transfer to the ice bath and repeat remaining steps used for carrots.
- Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat with 1 tsp olive oil. Add spinach and 1 minced garlic clove. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 60-90 seconds or until wilted. Squeeze and drain excess liquid, cut into 2-3” pieces, toss with ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil, set aside.
- In the same pan used for the spinach (add a little olive oil if pan is dry), sauté the zucchini for 60-90 seconds or until just wilted. Squeeze and drain excess liquid, toss with ¼ teaspoon of sesame oil, set aside.
- In the same pan used for the spinach and zucchini, heat ½ teaspoon sesame oil until hot but not smoking. Add mushrooms, season with salt to taste. Sauté until well-wilted, about 3-5 minutes. Drain excess liquid and set aside.
- Divide rice among 4 bowls. Arrange spinach, carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, and sprouts so they are each visible and lay from the center of the bowl out, like spokes of a wheel.
- In a non-stick pan, heat a little olive oil until hot but not smoking, then cook sunny-side up eggs until the tops of the egg whites are set, about 2-3 minutes. Top each bowl with a freshly cooked egg. Add any optional garnishes, if using. Enjoy!
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.
This breakfast salad is one part left-overs, one part citrusy-goodness, and one part flawless sunny side up egg. Take last night’s roasted sweet potatoes and create something new in the morning by combining with organic baby spinach, and zesty orange-balsamic vinaigrette, and a surprise twist: granny smith apples.
These flavors sing together. Put an egg on it, and you’ve got all the protein (and brain-boosting choline) and beta-carotene rich veggie power you’ll need to get your day started on the right foot.
MIND diet foods: Leafy greens, other vegetables, olive oil
- 1 large organic sweet potato, 10-12" (mine was 1 lb 4 oz)
- ½ large red onion, diced
- ⅓ cup (approx) olive oil, divided into 1 tbsp, 4 tbsp, 1-2 tsp
- ½ tsp cumin
- 1 orange, zest and juice (2 tbsp orange juice, 1 tsp orange zest. You may have extra)
- ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 green apple
- 5 oz pre-washed organic baby spinach (about 6-8 cups loosely packed)
- 4 eggs
- 8 sprigs Italian parsley
- Preheat oven to 450.
- While the oven is preheating, wash and dry all produce, and prep the hash.
- Remove any eyes from the sweet potato leaving as much skin intact as possible.
- Dice the sweet potato (makes about 4 cups) and red onion (makes about 1 cup), then combine in a large bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.
- On a large baking sheet, arrange in a single layer and roast for 25 minutes, turning about halfway through.
- While the potatoes roast, make the dressing. Whisk together 4 tbsp olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Slice green apple into thin slices or cubes (makes about 1 cup) and toss with a little bit of orange juice to keep from browning.
- In a large bowl, combine baby spinach, parsley, and dressing to coat.
- Fold in the apples.
- Heat 1-2 tsp olive oil in a pan on low heat.
- Divide dressed salad in 4 bowls.
- Slowly crack eggs into the frying pan to reduce egg white spreading and heat over low heat until whites become opaque (3-4 minutes). Season with salt to taste.
- Divide hash on top of the 4 salads, and top each with an egg.
- Garnish with any extra parsley or orange zest, if desired
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.
It’s almost spring, it’s almost spring, it’s almost spring!
While I normally think of berries and summer in the same breath, the exception is strawberries. I know they’re available year-round, but in southern California, the best berries from local farms come out in late April, early May. I can’t wait.
The MIND diet calls for berries twice a week. Here’s a simple snack that gets elevated by a fancy drizzle. Honestly, I’d happily eat this with or without the drizzle, but it does add something so special and surprising.
Let me know if you give it a try!
- ¼ cup whiskey
- ½ tsp extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp freshly shredded ginger
- 1 tbsp pineapple juice
- ¼ cup pineapple slices
- 8 strawberries
- Optional garnishes: pink Himalayan salt, mint
- Combine whiskey, olive oil, vanilla, ginger, pineapple juice, and a pinch of salt. Let rest for at least 10 minutes, but 30 minutes or more is better.
- Arrange pineapple slices and strawberries on a plate, and drizzle liquid mixture over.
- Garnish with pink salt and mint leaves, if desired.
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).Ready for fall, but still feels like summer? This coconut sorghum and squash dish with cucumbers and mint has got you covered! #minddiet #brainfood @simplysorghum Click To Tweet
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.
This simple salad is aromatic thanks to the fennel, bright thanks to the orange segments, peppery thanks to the arugula, earthy and sweet thanks to the figs, and pleasantly tart and complex thanks to the raspberry-balsamic vinaigrette. There’s no sugar added – or needed – due to all the big vibrant flavors. You’ll enjoy the medley of tastes and textures while meeting your veggie quota for the day (read: fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, vitamin E, and more).
MIND foods: Leafy greens, vegetables, berries, olive oil
Prep: 10-15 min | Cook: 5 min | Total: 15-20 min
4 cups baby arugula, lightly packed (I used a pre-washed product)
1 medium bulb fennel, stalks trimmed and discarded, reserving fronds
1 medium orange, supreme segments (I used a Tangelo orange)
6 California mission figs, quartered lengthwise (substitute: your favorite fresh fig)
Raspberry Vinaigrette Ingredients
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Reserved orange juice, to taste
Wash and dry all fresh produce. Combine all dressing ingredients, except orange juice, in a food processor or blender until smooth; season to taste. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. (You will have extra dressing to enjoy for the rest of the week!) Meanwhile, quarter your fennel bulb. Cut out the tough root and heart with a diagonal slice and discard. Thinly slice the remaining white bulb on the diagonal to make thin strips. To supreme your orange, cut off the top and bottom, then with one flat side down securely on the cutting board, slice away the remaining peel. Cut flesh-only segments out of the orange. Squeeze the juice out of the remaining orange core and reserve. Optional: taste dressing and add orange juice, slowly, to taste.
To plate, toss or gently layer arugula, fennel, fennel fronds, citrus, and figs. Drizzle with dressing. Season to taste. Serve immediately.
Tip: Using a funnel, pour the finished dressing into a squeeze bottle to make it easier to handle.
Tip: Reserve some of the fig pieces, orange segments, and fennel fronds, and place as deliberate garnishes to add appeal to your dish.
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
There is a complex yet delicate herbaliciousness to both goji berries and green tea. Combine them with the pleasant bitter notes in dark chocolate, and you get a lovely nuanced marriage of rhyming flavors. Contrast those flavors with a simple base of popcorn which also adds great texture, volume, and fiber. This polyphenol-powered trail mix has high quality indulgent ingredients, yet keeps them in proportion so you don’t have to worry about going overboard on calories or too many added sugars.
Trail Mix with Goji Berries, Matcha Dark Chocolate, and Popcorn
Prep: 2 min | Total: 2 min
- 2 cups Boom Chika Pop popcorn (or air-pop your own)
- 4 squares Vosges Super Dark 72% Dark Chocolate with Matcha Green Tea, Spiraling, and Cocoa Nibs, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons Navitas organic goji berries
Divide evenly into 4 resealable snack containers.
Nutritional notes: 100 calories per serving, 3 grams of added sugars, vitamin A-rich, and a good source of potassium and fiber.
MIND diet foods: Whole grains, berries