Silicon Valley has promised us that, someday, little nanobots will act like tiny microprocessors in our brains, helping to make us smarter. I say, Why wait? We already have a teensy food that does that. It’s the lentil, the vegetable kingdom’s version of a Lilliputian flying saucer. Lentils, ounce for ounce, pack an amazing amount of brain boosters, such as iron (essential to the function of myelin, which is involved in quick information gathering). From a culinary viewpoint, it’s a myth that you have to soak lentils overnight; just a quick rinse will do. With a host of spices, cubed delicata squash, and thinly sliced kale, this is my go-to soup when I’m working hard and need to process a lot of information.
My dad, Jay, had this delightful habit; whenever you told him something that struck his fancy, he’d roar, “That’s FANTASTIC!” and gleefully clap his hands for emphasis. This was doubly true if you told him he was getting chocolate for dessert. Jay never met a piece of chocolate he didn’t like, and I have a feeling that just hearing what’s in these truffles—dates, cherries, and walnuts, smothered in chocolate, rolled in coconut and curry—would’ve given him cause to offer up a standing ovation. Studies suggest walnuts may boost memory, while chocolate, as we all know, is the ultimate moodboosting agent. One bite of this dessert and you’d be hard-pressed to feel any stress.
There’s fat, good fat, and great fat. Avocados fall into the last category—full of brain-boosting vitamin E and a monounsaturated fat that helps lower blood pressure, which can help lower the risk of cognitive impairment. The same fat also serves to signal the gut and brain that satiation is taking place, which keeps us from overeating. In this delicate salad, the avocado acts as a creamy bass note for the tart pop of the grapefruit and the perky citrus-ginger vinaigrette.
If you’ve ever had a Pimm’s cocktail (or Pimm’s Cup as it’s known among the British faithful), you know it often contains a variety of herbs and sliced fruits. I was watching a friend make his version of a Pimm’s cocktail with orange, lemon, cucumber peel, and a secret herb blend when I thought, “Wow, that looks so refreshing; it’s like going to a spa!” Of course the 50 proof Pimm’s had to go (sorry, folks), but I could work around that. What I wanted to create was something that would inspire people to drink, because hydration is so vital to maintaining the body’s equilibrium, especially in hot weather. This tonic is like art floating in a chilled pitcher, with thin rounds of orange, lemon, and cucumber interspersed with sprigs of thyme and mint.
You may think that making crème brûlée requires blowtorches, welder’s glasses, and asbestos gloves. But I’ve come up with an alternative method that doesn’t involve having to whip out the torch. Instead, a sweet, crunchy brittle is made in the oven, with only one requirement: keeping a very close eye on it as it cooks. The brittle is perched atop a delectable bowl of berry-studded sweetened Greek yogurt, which is just as creamy as the egg-, dairy-, and sugar-laden custard typical in crème brûlée, and it also brings a host of health benefits to the table.