This one reminded me of how Edison must’ve felt inventing the lightbulb: it took a lot of tries, but once I hit on the right formula, shazam! I knew we had a winner when I walked into my husband’s office, brittle in hand. He was so deep in thought at his computer screen that he didn’t even see me. I just said, “Gregg . . . open mouth.” In went the brittle, his eyes still glued to the screen. “Gregg . . . close mouth. Chew.” I was halfway down the hall when I finally heard his voice echo off the walls: “This is REALLY good!” And so it is, for the tongue and for the brain. The sesame seeds are full of zinc, the pumpkin seeds are like little mini antidepressants, and the sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamin E, which helps memory, learning, and overall mood.
As a kid, I remember the Ladies Who Lunch coming over to the house regularly to play canasta or mah-jongg. On these occasions, my mom showed me how you could use a fruit as a bowl for salad: she’d serve the pearled grand dames tomatoes stuffed with chicken salad, and that was the inspiration for this dish. I’ve gone for a different mode of transport—an avocado boat—and jazzed up the salad as well. No mayo here, but lime juice, cumin, coriander, jalapeño (za-zing!), olive oil, and avocado provide the diving pond for the shrimp. I think the Ladies Who Lunch would’ve approved.
I like to make kale a world traveler; in other books I’ve managed to stamp its passport with Asian, Latin American, and Mediterranean flavorprints. This time I’ve booked kale’s passage to Thailand, in whose cuisine coconut, ginger, and lime can often be found. Coconut milk helps increase the bioavailability of kale’s fat-soluble vitamins, while coconut’s sweetness and the brightness of the lime help eliminate kale’s natural bitterness. I’ve taken kale so many places I’m amazed I don’t have Customs showing up at my front door. But if they do, I’ll just make them this dish and they’ll go away satisfied.
Scallops are an awesome brain food, full of the omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, which reduces plaque formations in the brain linked to cognitive decline. However, they’re a bit temperamental on the stove. They cook mighty fast, and can turn from tender to eraser-tough in a flash. Pay attention, and you’ll get a plateful of bliss. Here, they’re seasoned with curry and a little coconut and lime, which play beautifully off the scallops’ silky taste.
This is the dollop that’s always front and center in my refrigerator. The combination of fresh parsley and mint, blended with lemon, olive oil, and sea salt is a perfect drizzle to amp up the yum for chicken, lamb, fish, or vegetables. I’ve been known to scrape the jar, just to capture the last few drops. Parsley gets a brain boost from the phytochemical quercetin, which helps protect brain cells from free radical damage, while mint helps with focus and concentration.