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"Indian-inspired Meals" - Red Lentil Curry + Potato With Kale and Mehti Leaves Curry

Indian, Soup, Dinner, LunchLina Liwag4 Comments
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I've been making a lot of soups and stews lately...we need all these warming foods to get us through the winter.  As I write this post, we're enjoying some snow on a Saturday.  Since my family is a big fan of Indian spices (yes, even our 15-year old is), curried lentils, beans and vegetables are a regular fare  in our kitchen.  They are great as leftovers and therefore  one of my favourite packed lunches.  

Since eating out is a big challenge for me due to my food sensitivities, I decided a few years ago to learn how to cook Indian food.  I have several Indian friends and I happen to work closely with a few of them.  I ask them a lot of questions and they offer me tons of suggestions...sometimes I even get free spices!  These ladies grew up making these wonderful and delicious recipes without following exact measurements...so  I don't really get complete recipes from them, just a list of ingredients.  It works for me as I learn better by doing and experimenting on my own.  My good friend Raminder is actually my tester...I get to bring the food to work and she usually gives me the thumbs up or offers more input on how to do it better. 

 

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On this post, I made two dishes:  Red Lentil Curry + Potato With Kale and Mehti  Leaves Curry.  Some interesting facts about red lentil - they are high in fibre, folate, protein, iron, manganese, phosphorous, copper, Vitamin B1 and potassium.  It's actually high in a nutrient called molybdenum (something I just learned recently) and is supposed to be helpful in regulating some of the important enzymes of the body and in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and iron.  I love making lentil dishes as they cook in under 30 minutes which, to  a working mom like me,  is just a gem especially during weekdays.  Mehti or fenugreek leaves look like watercress (see photo above).  They are slightly bitter but delicious.  Rich in iron as well as significant levels of potassium, fibre, calcium and Vitamin K, they are believed to be equally as nutritious as the spinach.  Fresh mehti leaves are usually found in Indian and Middle Eastern stores.  I  first started cooking with this herb last summer and since we live in a predominantly South Asian community, I don't have a problem finding them at my regular grocery store. 

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Red Lentil Curry
Ingredients (preferably organic)

1 1/2 cups red lentil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
1 1/4  t. (or to taste) Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 t. turmeric
2 t. cumin powder
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
5 green cardamom, lightly smashed (optional)
half of jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped
6 cups unsalted vegetable broth or filtered water
juice of 1/2 lime (or more)
1/3 cup chopped coriander leaves

Method:
In a stock pot, saute the onions, garlic and ginger for about 3 minutes then add coriander powder, cumin, turmeric, jalapeno, cardamom and salt.  Stir the mixture and wait until the spices become fragrant then add the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes until they turn soft.  Add the lentils and water.  Boil then turn down the heat to simmer for 25 minutes until the lentils are tender and the mixture becomes thick.  You can add more water if you prefer a thinner consistency.  Add  the lime juice and half of the coriander leaves.  Adjust the taste.  Serve and garnish with the rest of the coriander leaves. Enjoy!

Suggestions:
You can definitely adjust the spices to suit your taste.  This is a little mild considering that my 15-year old son cannot tolerate a more spicy blend.  You can also add greens to the lentil like spinach or kale if you are not planning to cook a vegetable side dish.    This dish  tastes better the next day... so definitely a good option for leftovers. 

 

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Potato With Kale and Mehti Leaves Curry
Ingredients (preferably organic)

2 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 bunch black kale, washed and chopped into bite size pieces
1 bunch fresh mehti leaves, washed and chopped (see suggestions)
1 cup chopped tomatoes (about 1 tomato)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t. (or to taste) Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt
1 Tbsp. coriander powder
1/4 t. cumin seeds
1 1/2 t. cumin powder
2 t. turmeric powder
1/4- 1/2 t. cayenne
1 1/4 c. water

Method:
In a pan, saute the onions, garlic and ginger for about 5 minutes then add coriander powder, cumin seeds and powder, turmeric, cayenne and salt.  Stir the mixture and wait until the spices become fragrant then add the tomatoes and cook for about 3 minutes until they turn soft.  Add the potatoes and water and cook until they become tender but not mushy, approximately 20 minutes or so. Combine the kale and mehti leaves and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the lemon juice.  Adjust the taste then serve.  Enjoy!

Suggestions:
If you can't find mehti leaves, increase the black kale to 2 bunches.  If you prefer spinach,  that works fine as well.  Another option is mixing 1 bunch of black kale and 1 bunch of spinach.
 

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This is the view from our window as it was snowing today.  it's our "Family Day" weekend here in Toronto which is a fairly new holiday for us, being just on its second year.  It's a welcome break and hoping to enjoy it with family and friends.  I hope you are all enjoying your weekend:)

Much wishes,

Lina

 

Green Smoothie

SmoothiesLina Liwag2 Comments
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Well, it's now the end of January and I'm done with birthday celebrations!   I'm back to my green smoothies after making too many raw cheesecakes!

I'm pretty sure many of us have already settled in to a great start for 2013  especially in the areas of health and fitness.  I'm not one who puts her goals in paper at the beginning of each year.  However, I automatically find myself turning the switch on to the I'll exercise more" mode every 2nd of January.  Sounds familiar?  I don't really get carried away with all that food during the holidays but I tend to shy away from my yoga studio or my gym and then my mind go on a mini vacation so to speak.  Got my groove back now and hoping you got yours too.  

Some of you maybe trying to focus on eating more veggies which is awesome. I bet  you've also considered green smoothies or are already even making them.  They get very popular around this time of year.  I want to share a recipe of one of my favourite combinations. 

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There are a few things I try to follow when making green smoothies which can also be helpful to you.

1. More greens than fruits is a good rule of thumb.  I know that it can be challenging in the beginning.   If you are new to green smoothies, using equal portions of fruits and veggies is a good place to start and then gradually increase the vegetables. Cucumbers, lettuce and spinach have mild flavours and are not too strong for a newbie.  Just be careful not to overpack on fruits as we can also overdo our sugar consumption depending on what we are eating daily. This is specially so to those who have medical issues like insulin resistance or if you just love eating sweets.  Dr. Joseph Mercola  has a great article regarding fructose from fruit which you can read here.   Experiment on your own and  pretty soon, you’ll be able to come up with your own favourite combinations.  

2.  Using organic produce or avoiding those fruits and veggies with high levels of pesticide. Check this list  By the way, kale/collard greens and green beans have been added to the original dirty dozen.

3. Rotating greens is also a great idea.  Here is a very informative article on the three top reasons why it is important.

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Kale, Sprouts and Pear Smoothie
Ingredients: (Preferably Organic)
1 big leaf of curly kale, torn into pieces, about 1 cup
Handful of pea sprouts or sunflower sprouts, about 1 cup
1 pear, cut up
1/4 cup unsweetened dry coconuts (see notes)
2 Tbsp. walnuts
1 Tbsp. chia seeds or sprouted chia powder
2-3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 - 1/4 of an avocado (depending on how thick you want it)
2  1/2 cups water (or more)
2 Tbsp. dried golden berries or 1 piece Medjool dates (optional)
unsweetened cacao nibs for toppings

Method:
 Place all the ingredients into the blender and process until smooth.  Adjust the taste.  This serves two.  Transfer the smoothie to glasses and top with cacao nibs.  Enjoy!

Variation:
This mixture maybe a little bland for other people.   Add 1 banana,  increase the water by 1 cup and exclude the dates.

Notes:
I buy the raw and organic dehydrated coconuts from The Big Carrot, a natural food market located near the Danforth and Chester area of Toronto.  They may also be available at Whole Foods Market.  I also soak and blend these to make my version of coconut milk.  They are also great to add in salads, porridges and other drinks.