Maybe it’s because, at heart, I’m a soup maker, but I take making stock very seriously. I think most cooks feel that way. There’s a confidence one gets in making one’s own stock rather than buying the boxed version. (Organic chicken stock will do in a pinch, but give me my own heady concoction any day.) I get to control the ingredients and, as with this chicken stock, get the taste exactly the way I want. A big plus is that it freezes well for storage. This stock, along with Classic Magic Mineral Broth, is the base for nearly every soup in this book, so it has to be spot on, and it is. Bone broths are some of the world’s oldest healing foods, and with good reason; the calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus in chicken bones are great for brain health, while the amino acid glycine has calming and other mental health benefits.
Gone are the days when asparagus was boiled until it resembled a gray Seattle drizzle. Here we roast asparagus until it becomes sweet and caramelized in a way that’s hard to believe until it’s tried. Asparagus is full of antioxidants that help in DNA synthesis and repair. In this soup, it’s paired with the nerve-protective benefits of pistachio as part of the minty, creamy topping. This is some serious yum in a bowl.
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.