Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Pistachios

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.

Main steps:

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Pistachios
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • 16 oz strawberries (about 20-25), long-stemmed if available
  • ½ cup heaping pistachio kernels
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

 

No-bake homemade wild blueberry pistachio granola bars

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.

This date caramel-tahini blend smells and tastes divine:
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir well. Here’s what it looks like after pressing into a lined small sheet pan – you’ll notice it’s a little bumpy:
Here’s what it looks like after I garnished with sesame seeds and salt:

And here’s what it looks like after pressing down with a straight-walled glass (like a Collins glass):

After at least 20 minutes in the freezer, invert the pan and cut into bars, that’s it! I think these would work well as energy balls, too. Instead of 16 bars, I think 32 balls would be good little mini snacks. Maybe I’ll try that next week.
No-bake homemade wild blueberry pistachio granola bars
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • 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
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Simple, no-bake granola bars that work just as well for a snack as it does for a quick breafkast. These are packed with MIND foods: Whole grains, nuts, berries
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. Optional: toast oats (preheat oven to 350F, spread on a large sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: oats, pistachios, blueberries and chia seeds, breaking up any blueberries that may be sticking together.
  3. 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.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the wet ingredients: date caramel and tahini.
  5. 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).
  6. 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)
  7. 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).
  8. 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.

 

Strawberrry and Pineapple Plate with Whiskey-Ginger Drizzle

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!

 

Strawberrry and Pineapple Plate with Whiskey-Ginger Drizzle
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Arrange pineapple slices and strawberries on a plate, and drizzle liquid mixture over.
  3. Garnish with pink salt and mint leaves, if desired.

 

Trailblazer: Strawberry Almond BarNana Pop Mix

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.

Recipe

Trail Mix with Freeze-Dried Strawberries, Almonds, Popcorn and Chewy Banana Bites

Prep: 5 min | Total: 5 min

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients

  • 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

 

Method

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

Trailblazer: Goji Matcha Cacao Pop Mix

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.

Recipe

Trail Mix with Goji Berries, Matcha Dark Chocolate, and Popcorn

Prep: 2 min | Total: 2 min

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients

  • 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

 

Directions

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

 

Trailblazer: Beet’stachio Goji-Pop Mix

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.

Recipe

Trail Mix with Beet Chips, Pistachios, Goji Berries and Popcorn

Prep: 2 min | Total: 2 min

Serves: 4

 

Ingredients

  • 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

 

Directions

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

Banana Nice Cream Dairy-Free Frozen Treat

I pride myself on my omnivore status, and having a curious palate open to the world’s flavors. My take on a healthy balanced diet is quite inclusive. So when I tell you this is a vegan and dairy-free dessert, know that those qualities are mostly incidental. True, my body hasn’t had a decent relationship with dairy since I was a toddler, but I hold no grudge. Therefore, I give you a very simple and delicious “nice cream,” which is a vegan, dairy-free way to enjoy a creamy dessert that is 100-percent cream-free with no added sugars (none needed). There’s a good balance of fiber from the bananas, protein from the peanut butter powder, and natural sweetness from the bananas and vanilla extract.

I topped mine with freeze-dried blueberries I picked up on a whim from Trader Joe’s (brain-healthy berries!). I think a sprinkle of cinnamon and some dark chocolate nibs would also be delightful toppings. In our home, we’ve enjoyed this as breakfast, snack, and dessert. With a handful of wholesome ingredients, it is truly a guilt-free indulgence.

The one snafu could be the frozen bananas. Here are a few options:

  1. You can start with frozen bananas from the freezer aisle.
  2. If you eat bananas regularly, you know sometimes one or two can get too ripe before you can finish the bunch. These are great to break up into pieces and stash in the freezer until you have enough to make some nice cream.
  3. Or, you can buy a bunch of bananas for the singular purpose of making nice cream. If this is the case, you must wait for them to ripen (you can use the brown paper bag trick to speed up the process), then break into pieces and freeze.

Recipe

Prep: 1 min | Cook: 3 min | Total: 4 min

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 medium-large ripe bananas, broken into 2″ pieces, frozen
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened
3 T peanut butter powder

 

Method

Combine bananas, vanilla extract, and half of almond milk in blender or food processor. Pulse to start to combine, about 1 minute. Add peanut butter powder. Pulse again, slowly adding more almond milk as needed to reach desired consistency (somewhere between ice cream and soft-serve). Enjoy immediately or return to freezer until ready to enjoy.

Vegan No-Sugar-Added Chocolate Pudding with Pistachios and Orange Zest

The Inspiration

First of all, I made this recipe with my septuagenarian parents in mind, as a naturally sweet and totally healthy dessert for the Thanksgiving table. However, my master taste-tester (aka my husband) also approves – he especially enjoyed eating a spoonful with a little bit of pudding, pistachio, and orange zest all together.

It Is So Easy

The prep is a snap, and most of this dish can be made well ahead of time. In fact, it’s advisable, since it is ideal to have the pudding chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This makes it pleasantly cool to the palate, and it also diminishes any latent banana aromas (which may seem strong right after blending ingredients).

This ABC pudding is kicked up a notch with chili powder + pistachios + orange zest #brainfood #healthy #noaddedsugars Click To Tweet

Pro Tips

The aromatic oils that arise from citrus zest are fragile, so it’s best to zest your orange just before serving. Bonus points if you zest directly into your dessert bowls at the table – since this helps get the most out of that magical spray that results from zesting, and is fun for your guests, too. If that’s not practical, it’s still nice to zest nearby your final product before serving.

Why it’s MDM-Approved

This recipe is MIND Diet Meals approved because it is bursting with healthy fats, antioxidants, and more fiber than you might expect (32% of the Daily Value in one serving of this smooth, creamy dessert!). There’s no need for any added sugars in this recipe because it gets its sweetness naturally from ripe bananas. There is no saturated-fat laden cream in this recipe either. It gets its creaminess from ripe avocados. While this dessert tastes great and looks beautiful, most of all it’s heart-healthy and brain-healthy, too. Healthy and delicious? That’s an MDM win.

Vegan ABC Chocolate Pudding with Pistachios and Orange Zest
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 8 servings
  • Serving size: About ½ cup
  • Calories: 165
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated fat: 8g
  • Trans fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 22g
  • Sugar: 7 g (zero added sugars)
  • Sodium: 42mg
  • Fiber: 8g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: California
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 3 ripe medium bananas, peeled
  • 2 ripe medium California avocados, peeled and deseeded
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ½ cup pistachios
  • Zest from 1 medium orange
Instructions
  1. Prepare pudding: Blend all ingredients together until smooth, except pistachios and orange zest. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely chilled.
  2. Prepare pistachios: Preheat oven to 350 F. Toast pistachios on baking sheet for 3 minutes. Toss, and bake for additional 3 minutes. Let cool and coarsely chop. Store in airtight container until ready to serve.
  3. Serve: Divide pudding into 8 dessert bowls, top with pistachios. Zest an entire medium orange (or two, if you love orange zest), and divide zest among bowls. Enjoy.
Notes
MIND diet foods: Nuts

 

Super Simple Baked Beet Chips with Lemon Zest

beet chips in a single layerWho doesn’t love beets? They can’t be beat. Here is a super simple way to enjoy them as a crispy, savory snack founded on good quality basic ingredients like beets, olive oil, and lemon zest.

Beets are nutrient-packed, providing a good source of fiber, potassium, iron, and folate. To reap the benefits, try my simple recipe here, and then go check out these five additional ways to enjoy beets, plus tips for buying, storing and preparing them.

MIND Foods: Vegetables, olive oil

Yield: 6 servings

Time: 10 minutes to prep; 30 minutes to cook

Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

3 large beets, washed, scrubbed and peeled, cut into 1/32” slices

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large lemon, zested

Kosher salt, optional

1 chive, thinly sliced, optional

3-ingredient Beet Chips = simple snack, super nutritious root veggie! #Recipe Click To Tweet

beet chips with lemon zest

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. To slice the beets, you may use a food processor, mandolin, or sharp chef’s knife. Place sliced beets in a large bowl and toss with olive oil. Spread sliced beets on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until crisp enough that edges have begun to curl and a little color has developed. Remove from oven, sprinkle sparingly with salt and garnish with lemon zest and/or chives. Allow chips to cool slightly before serving.

 

Notes

  • Using medium to large beets is recommended because the chips will shrink during baking
  • Trying thicker slices, e.g. 1/16” is also fine, though may require longer cooking time
  • Keep regular watch on chips after the first 10 minutes to avoid burning
  • Zesting a lemon and letting the zest rest encourages curling, which may be desirable for presentation 

 

Nutrition: 65 calories, 5 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber

“Candy Corn” Recipe – Going Back to Its Roots

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 tale of candy corn before the big day (Halloween, that is), mosey on over here to read up on what’s in candy corn, anyway.

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

Ingredients:

a spooky candy corn scene

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

 

Directions:

Each component can be made a day ahead of time, and kids (or adults) can help assemble their own.

Mashed Potatoes

  1. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil with a large pinch of salt
  2. Add potatoes and boil 15 minutes until tender, but not over-cooked
  3. Drain
  4. Add potatoes back to pot, add oil and slowly incorporate milk while mashing to desired consistency (you may not need all the milk)
  5. Mix in roasted garlic

Roasted Garlic

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. Let it cool; and when its cool enough to handle, squeeze from bottom so cloves pop out
  5. Mash before adding to mashed potatoes

Turkey

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat until hot
  2. Add turkey and season to taste
  3. Cook until done, breaking up pieces with spatula, about 7 minutes or until browned through

Carrots

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and then turn the heat off
  2. Prepare an ice bath
  3. Blanche carrots in water briefly until just wilted, then dunk in ice bath before removing and setting aside to dry
  4. Optional: rough chop into 2-3″ pieces to make them easier to eat

Assembly

  1. Assembly can be done in any cup or bowl, but it’s festive if you can use clear martini glasses
  2. 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
  3. At this point, use a small glass or a shot glass, wrapped in parchment paper, and gently place on top of potatoes
  4. Position carrots around glass for 2 quarters of the way; pack carrots in
  5. Add corn on top for the last 1/4
  6. Carefully remove shot glass, leaving parchment paper, and fill center with turkey mix
  7. Carefully slip parchment paper out
  8. Cover turkey with a little more corn if desired (optional)
  9. 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.