Anybody who knows me knows I’ve got a potato jones that just won’t quit. Doesn’t matter the make and model, a properly prepared spud just takes me places. This version relies on a little spice razzamatazz: I throw some mustard and coriander seeds into a hot pan and play Jiffy Pop with them for about thirty seconds. It gets their oils going, and they get fully released—along with a load of anti-inflammatory ingredients—when I grind them a few seconds later. I then bake them along with some lovely fingerling potatoes coated with olive oil and sea salt, and it’s heaven on a plate. Or so say the potato critics in my crowd, and they’re not an easy bunch to please.
They say kids don’t like vegetables, but my grandson Brandon evidently didn’t get that memo. He’s eaten and loved veggies since the age of two (he’s eight now), with broccoli being his favorite. He’s not shy about it, either. Last time he was over I asked him how he wanted his broccoli. He said, “Roasted... where you lay them out on a cookie sheet.” Want a scene that’ll melt your heart? That’s watching Brandon down on all fours , peering through the glass into the oven at his broccoli baking . When they come out, I put a little Parmesan cheese on top, and Brandon’s picking them off the roasting pan.
Here’s a recipe where, if it’s leafy and green, it’ll work. I use chard and collards, but kale or spinach would be brilliant too—in fact, put it this way: if you think Popeye would eat it, it’s in. The flavor enhancers are onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest, with a yellow potato thrown in for creaminess. The whole pot gets blended, and you’ll swear you’re eating emeralds (albeit luscious ones): that’s how shimmering green this soup looks. It’s a smart, calming soup, with whichever cruciferous greens you use (kale, bok choy, watercress, collards) providing a ton of folate, which may help ward off depression.
The wonderful thing about cooking is that we can borrow from everywhere. Take bartending: one of their favorite tools is the muddler, which, as the name implies, muddles (or crushes) ingredients to release flavors that go into the drink. And so it is here, with mint being the ingredient to be muddled. Now, you and I don’t have muddlers (unless you happen to be a mixologist), but you can use a mortar and pestle or the back of a wooden spoon to break down the mint and release the essential oils that go into this mojito. Mixed with antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice, lime juice, and pellegrino (Italian for “seltzer”), it tastes anything but muddled; it’s a straight shot of joy juice to the brain.
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.