The Many Lives of Lentils

From left, a brightly spiced lentil loaf, a smoky lentil stew and a pasta with lentils and fennel. Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

At my house, dinner is not a three-course meal every night. More likely, it’s a main course and a green salad. Sometimes, it is a one-pot main course, though not always. (I find that even when cooking a simple meal, at least two pots and pans are often involved.) And, quite frequently, dinner is meatless.

While I consider myself a carnivore, my first love will always be vegetables. I’m quite happy to have a vegetarian meal several times a week.

In addition to fresh vegetables, whole grains and dried legumes are usually part of the picture. I’m a big fan of every type of bean, whether cannellini or garbanzo, with a cupboard full of them to choose from. Lately, it is lentils that most strike my fancy. Aside from being delicious, they have the advantage of being quick-cooking. It usually takes no more than 30 minutes to simmer a pot, so they are perfect for a relatively fast meal.

For most uses, any kind will work, but even among lentils, there are lots of types to choose from. If the meal is leaning in a Spanish direction, I might go with Pardina lentils, a small brown variety good for stews, soups or salads. For an Italianate dish, I like Castelluccio lentils from Umbria. When I want to veer toward Turkish flavors, I choose split red lentils. What follows are three lentil dinners I highly recommend. They are all vegetarian, and all have the advantage of tasting good, perhaps better, when prepared in advance. Lastly, each of these dishes can benefit from a drizzle of fruity extra-virgin olive oil as a final flourish, to make them that much more luscious.

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Smoky Lentil Stew With Leeks and Potatoes

This rustic stew improves after a day in the fridge. At the very least, try to cook it an hour or two ahead of the meal, so the elements have time to meld. (You can also make it to eat over several days, or to freeze for later.) Any size green or brown lentil will work here, if you can’t get the small Spanish Pardina lentils (or French lentilles du Puy). But the smoky pimentón is vital: Along with extra-virgin olive oil, it provides real depth of flavor.

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Spaghetti With Lentils, Tomato and Fennel

There are many versions of pasta with lentils, a multitude of which are thick and stewlike, more lentil than pasta. This one emphasizes the pasta. The saucy lentil topping is similar to a traditional Bolognese ragù. The addition of fennel — seeds, bulb and chopped green fronds — gives it a surprising brightness and zest. For even more flavor, put your saved-up Parmesan rinds to use in the sauce. (Meat eaters: Add a little chopped anchovy or Italian fennel sausage.)

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Red Lentil Loaf

You may have encountered the kind of vegetarian lentil loaf that masquerades as something else. With its brownish-grey color and a red ketchup glaze, it tries to emulate the homespun comfort of meatloaf. Most recipes call for Worcestershire and barbecue sauce to make it taste beefy. This delicate red lentil loaf is worlds away from that. It’s all about the undisguised flavor of the lentil: sweet and vegetal. The seasoning is a little bit Turkish, with lemon, cumin, cilantro, dill and yogurt. It is delicious served at room temperature or warm. The loaf is easier to cut if cooled, with slices heated through in the oven. Even better is to griddle the slices with a little oil in a nonstick or cast-iron pan until crisp and golden on both sides.

Resource: By David Tanis

Fresh Beet Juice Blend

Here’s a delicious beet juice recipe I created this morning. Sometimes you’ll drink a fresh juice and one ingredient may over power the entire juice. Well, this isn’t one of those juices. The beets and carrots adds the sweetness, then the bitter from the kale and parsley combined with the water from the cucumber, helped to balance out the taste. It came out really smooth. This recipe made two portions. Before juicing, make sure you wash and scrub your vegetables. Always use organic produce, if possible. If not, peeling the outer skin helps to reduce your exposure to pesticides.

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 Large beet
  2. 1 lb Carrots
  3. 1/2 Bundle of parsley
  4. 1 Large cucumber
  5. 3 Kale leaves

enjoy!

Recipe: Quinoa Toubbouleh – Salad

Quick, Simple, Fresh, and Healthy!

Adding quinoa to your green salad adds so much vital nutrients. Quinoa (pronounced “keenwah”) is one of few plant-based foods that is a source of complete protein that contains 9 essential amino acids. Our bodies can’t produce it, so this quality is especially important for vegans and vegetarians. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in iron, magnesium, B and E vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Quinoa is also very high in fiber and has a low glycemic index. Low glycemic foods are slowly digested and absorbed. They produce only small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels. This is especially important for diabetics because quinoa doesn’t hit their blood stream quickly like white rice. I usually make a medium size pot, and use it throughout the week to create all kinds of salads. It saves me a lot of time in the kitchen. Here a recent recipe to enjoy. This serves for two people.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 2 big radishes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 pear
  • 2 cups of arugula

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To cook the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa under cook water. Place quinoa in a pot with 1.75 cups of water. Place lid on top and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low for 15 minutes. Let quinoa cook before making the salad. This is why I usually do a big batch once a week.
  2. While the quinoa is cooling, prepare the rest of the salad by cutting up the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Dressing: Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a bowl. Add olive oil, salt, minced garlic, and chopping parsley.
  4. Once quinoa is cooled, add all the vegetable ingredients together. Pour the dressing all over and stir to coat well. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy.

There’s no wrong or right ingredient with making a quinoa salad. You can easily add whatever vegetable, fruit, even legumes, nuts and leafy greens you like. The idea here is to simplify your life with quick options for a more healthier plant-based diet.

Beet This Fact


     Beets are incredibly delicious, easy to grow, and extremely healthy for you.  Did you know that beet roots has cancer fighting properties?   Beets have long been know as a healthy source of nutrients, but scientific evidence also validates their significance as a defense against cancer. Some research even shows cases of remission in cancer patients who were given high concentrations of beet root. I grew my own this year.  There’s nothing better than picking fresh beets and preparing them as you like. 


     This root vegetable is a good source of iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur  magnesium, iodine, and a number of trace minerals. However, it is the synergy between certain elements found only in specific combinations and concentrations within the beet that give it its cancer-fighting power.  The leaves are also eatable and holds valuable nutrients. While other foods contain iron, the human body is able to assimilate it from the beet root more readily than from almost any other food.  Researchers suspect that there is a catalyst in the beet root that helps the body more easily use the available iron. 

     Beet juice powder is one of the most concentrated forms of the root, with a typical serving size being a teaspoon or two added to 8 ounces of water plus 8 ounces of fresh vegetable juice. Larger dosages may be necessary for those with a cancer diagnosis.  I’ve always enjoyed juicing, eating and cooking with all varieties of beets.  After researching beet powder, I am interested in trying it out. The benefits outweighs the taste, especially if you’re looking for healthy alternatives. I grew up seeing my mother with this red vegetable that made a huge mess. I loved handeling it, but I was one of the haters as a young child.  In my family, there were no excuses, I had to eat it.  Now I’m a mom and I’ve included beets in our diets of course, just more creatively. Beets have an earthy taste. Some people like it or hate it. My advise for the non-likers, smoothies and fresh juices are the best ways to consume vegetables. I juice it and blend it in smoothies for my children. Knowing how to combine the different vegetables to off-set the tastes helps tremendously. 

Here are my favorite beet juice recipes. 

Beet Juice – Granny Dearest 

  • 1 Green Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 Inch piece peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 Medium Carrots 
  • 1 Large beet, peeled
  • 1 Medium orange peeled 

 Beet Juice – Energizer 

  • 1 Large beetroot
  • 1 Medium Gala Apple 
  • 1/2 Piece fresh ginger
  • 2 Cucumbers 
  • 1 bunch of parsley 

Smoothie – Beet Powerhouse 

  • 1 Large beetroot (Juiced) 
  • 2 Ripe bananas 
  • 1 Cup strawberries 
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh/frozen kale
  • 1 Cup ice
  • 1 Cup of coconut milk 
  • 1 tsp of raw honey

I hope you enjoy my recipes, and try to come up with your own combinations. Be adventurous and don’t be intimidated to try new things. 

Resources:  Adapted from “Benefits of beets documented to defeat cancer,” by Johnathan Landsman, at http://naturalhealth365.com


An Easy Plant-Based Salad

 

Salads are one of the most easiest and most satisfying ways to get your fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.  In this particular salad, I have shredded green leaf lettuce, watercress, yellow bell pepper, one organge, one apple, and a three bean salad with fresh celantro and curly leaf parsley minced and garnished.  For the dressing, I squeeze a half of lemon for a little more zing.   The fresh bean salad adds protein and fiber to whole me longer through my busy day. 

What do you put in your salads? 

Recipe: Brown Rice Pilaf

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This organic brown rice pilaf is simple and healthy.  It’s filled with healthy organic vegetables and fresh herbs for great flavoring. 

Serves 6

 Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 Cups cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 medium cabbage
  • 2 Carrots peeled and shredded 
  • 1 Can organic chick pea – drained
  • 1 Medium onion – diced
  • 2 Green onions (scallion) 
  • 1 Red bell pepper – diced
  • ¾ cup of fresh chopped parsley 
  • 3 Garlic cloves – finely diced
  • 1 Table spoon of coconut oil  
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cook the rice, following the direction on the back of the packet, until tender. Set aside once cooked.
  2. Chop cabbage in small pieces. In the meantime sauté onions and the garlic in the coconut oil for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, bell peppers, chickpeas then sauté for another 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the brown rice along with the parsley, green onions, salt and pepper – mix well. 

Optional additions: To jazz this up a bit you coul also add dried fruits like cranberries or diced apricots, and chopped raw nuts.  Sometimes I’ll drizzle about 2 tablespoons of organic sesame oil at the end to add more moisture if needed. 

Enjoy! 

Vegan Banana Bread

This vegan banana bread recipe is eggless and dairy free. I used mostly organic products, with the exception to the baking soda and powder. You’ll enjoy this banana bread even more because it’s filled with healthy ingredients, and it’s also delicious.

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Prep time: 20 minutes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan. I used coconut oil for greasing.

Ingredients:
• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp nutmeg
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• Pinch of salt
• 1 cup Turbinado sugar
• 1/2 cup coconut oil (or any other)
• 3 ripe bananas
• 1/2 cup of apple sauce
• 1 tsp vanilla
Optional additions
• 1/3 cup wheat germ
• 1 cup raw crushed walnuts
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1/3 Chia seeds

Instructions
In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and baking powder. Then, in a separate bowl smash the bananas until the big lumps are out. Mix in the oil, vanilla, applesauce, sugar and salt.

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Now, gently fold in the dry ingredients into the wet making sure everything is mixed in well. At this point you could add any of the optional ingredients. In this recipe I added wheat germ, walnuts and raisins. Pour finished batter in the prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Banana bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

Serving: 8 Slices

Enjoy!

Detox Green Juice Recipe

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I just completed Food Matters Free 3 day detox cleanse, and honestly, I feel amazing!

James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch are the brilliant filmmakers of ‘Food Matters‘ and ‘Hungry For Change‘. Two MUST SEE documentaries! They are the masterminds behind this cleanse.

In this detox, they combined fresh juices, a green salad, and a potassium balancing soup. There was no added sugars, breads, whole grains, or dairy. Strictly vegan! Just real organic vegetables and fresh juices. I love to eat so choosing the right detox was critical. Most detox programs usually eliminate food. Well, Food Matters plan had the perfect balance for me.

When starting any detox plan choosing the right time is key to your success, and consulting with your healthcare professional is extremely important.

Below is the green juice recipe from Food Matters detox cleanse.

2-3 Kale leaves
1 Lime
2-3 Celery stalks
1-2 Cucumbers
Optional detoxifying additions
Parsley
Coriander
Cilantro
Romaine can be added as well

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Sources
For more information about Food Matters click here.

Happy New Year & Happy Detoxing!

Fresh Juices

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There’s nothing better than a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice to quench your thirst. Drinking fresh juice is the best source of liquids for your body. The sugars are natural, enzymes are still alive, and the vitamins and minerals haven’t been diminished from pasteurizing.

I have an old fashioned glass citrus juicer, and I use all the time. It’s not messy, and it is very easy to clean. I also have a Breville Juice Fountain Elite juicer. I’ll use the Breville if I’m juicing greens, carrots, or apples. I love it too.

I make fresh juices for my family all the time. It’s so simple and take very little time to do. I believe drinking homemade juices provides us with beneficial protection against free radicals and immune support. An orange has over 170 different phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and blood clot inhibiting properties, as well as strong antioxidant effects.

My message here today is to just take the time and make your own juices. The benefits are endless.

Source:
Vitamin C Rich Food Sources

Cruciferous Vegetables

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Cruciferous vegetables—cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli rabe—contain a powerful range of disease fighters. One particular hero, sulforaphane, may increase enzymes that lower the incidence of colon and lung cancers.

A study published in the August 2003 issue of the International Journal of Cancer suggests that eating lots of cruciferous vegetables may provide a significant survival advantage for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. One of the most aggressive cancers, ovarian cancer claims the lives of 14,000 American women each year.

Try this recipe: Red cabbage, carrots, vegan mayo and almond slices.