Brain Food Tacos

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Brain Food Tacos

Serves 4  | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 25 minutes

I love tacos! These ones incorporate dark leafy greens and healthy fats to fuel your brain health. I like this with crispy shells but you can also use corn tortillas.


  • 1 honey nut squash (or small butter nut), peeled, cut into medium dice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch rainbow Swiss chard
  • 1 bunch collard greens
  • 1 can cranberry or pinto beans
  • 1 box crispy taco shells (I like the ones from Siete)
  • To serve: guacamole and pickled onions (see both below)

For the guacamole:

  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 2 tablespoons, white onions minced
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Kosher salt and lime juice to taste

For the pickled red onions:

  • 1 red onions
  • 160g cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: black peppercorns, fennel seed and coriander seed
  • 160g water
  • 6g salt (sea salt or kosher salt)
  • 15g Maple syrup

Chef Tips

Make the red onions in advance so you don’t have to make them the same day.


Step 1 (for the pickled onions)

Peel the onions and cut in half. Slice on a mandoline about ¼-inch thick. Place into a large bowl.

In a dry skillet toast the spices over medium high heat until fragrant. About 30 seconds. Allow to cool. Place into a small sachet (cheesecloth) and tie with butchers twine. If you don’t have cheesecloth or twine you can add directly into the liquid.

Stir together the cider vinegar, water, salt and maple syrup. Bring to a simmer for about 1 minute, turn off the heat. Pour over the onions. Press the onions down with a spoon in the first few minutes so that they’re covered by the liquid. Over time the onions will release their natural juices as well.

Let cool to room temperature. Transfer to some glass containers; cover and refrigerate. Wait at least 1 hour to serve.

Step 2 

Preheat your oven to 450F. Toss the squash with olive oil and season with salt. Place on a parchment lined tray and roast until tender and golden brown; about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Step 3

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic in some olive oil until tender; about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Turn up heat to medium high heat. Add in the greens and sauté for a few minutes. The idea here is quick and fast. If necessary add a tablespoon or two of water to deglaze the pans. Add in the squash and beans and season all the veggies to tasted. Set aside.

Step 4 (for the guacamole)

Mash the onion, chile, salt (the coarseness of kosher salt helps you make the paste), and half of the cilantro to a paste in a molcajete or other mortar. You can also mince and mash the ingredients together on a cutting board with a large knife or a fork, and then transfer the paste to a bowl.

Score the flesh in the avocado halves in a crosshatch pattern (not through the skin) with a knife and then scoop it with a spoon into the mortar or bowl. Toss well (it should be like salad properly dressed in vinaigrette), then add the rest of the cilantro and mash very coarsely with a pestle or a fork. Season to taste with lime juice (if you’d like) and some additional chile and salt.

Step 4

Put some guacamole in the bottom of each shell. Spoon in a generous amount of the greens and beans. Top with pickled onion. Enjoy!