Dal for Days

 

It was cold and rainy in New York City this past week. To warm up my belly without putting too much strain on my wallet, I decided to make dal. Dal is an Indian lentil stew and boy, is it good!

Sometimes I get intimidated by making Indian dishes because of the number of spices used, etc. I want to do it “right” but don’t always have the opportunity to stock my pantry with every seasoning. The recipe I go by is as minimal as it gets.

If you make the spice blend ahead of time and keep some on hand, your prep time will be even shorter. Let me know if you have any variations you’d like to share!

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Easy Dal

What you’ll need:

  • cutting board
  • chef’s knife
  • high sided non-stick pan
  • medium sauté pan
  • garlic press
  • small bowl
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • can opener

Dal Spice Blend (make this first)

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (ground)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed (ground)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne or paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix together in a small bowl. Taste a tiny bit to gauge heat/flavor. Feel free to add a little more or less depending on how you like it.

Ingredients

  • 3 tsp olive oil (2 tsp + 1 tsp)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled + minced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • 2 tsp dal spice blend
  • 1/2 cup red split lentils
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 can lite coconut milk (do not open until ready to pour)
  • 1/2 bunch kale, washed and roughly chopped
  • chili sauce, sriracha, liquid aminos (you’ll see later why they are no measurements)
  • cilantro, roughly chopped (sub parsley if you don’t like cilantro)
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • Rice (start cooking before the lentils) or naan (toast in the last 5 minutes until warmed through)
  1. In a high sided non-stick skillet, heat 2 tsp of olive oil over medium high heat. When hot, sauté the ginger and shallot for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the dal spice blend, salt to taste, and stir.
  2. Shake the can of coconut milk and open. Add the coconut milk, 3/4 cup water and red lentils to the pan. Bring to a simmer then lower the temperature to medium, stirring occasionally. Cook for 20-22 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Squeeze the juice from 2 lime quarters into the lentils and stir.
  3. After the lentils have cooked for about 10 minutes, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a medium sized pan over medium high heat. Add the kale – be careful for any spattering from the water hitting the oil. Sauté the kale until wilted. Season it with some chili sauce and liquid aminos if you’d like. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Evenly distribute the lentils into two bowls. Top with the cooked kale, carb and cilantro. Enjoy!

Tip: Great for lunch the next day. You can double recipe easily- just test the spice blend before adding. You can top the dal with any sautéed or roasted vegetable and protein!

Can’t get any easier: Chia Pudding

Weight Update: I’m at 169lbs (down from 181lbs)! Finally below 170! Only 4 more pounds until I reach my first goal. This is the slowest, most agonizing process but I have to keep going. Follow me on Instagram for more frequent updates.

Happy Sunday everyone! It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post so I’m going to give you two recipes to get you through your week. It’s the same base, two different ways, and an endless number of possibilities.

I drink a meal replacement shake every morning and it doesn’t change much. 1 scoop protein powder (I use IdealShape!) almond milk, almond butter, chia, and banana (239 calories). Yum!!! But it gets kind of boring after 10 or 15 of these. So when I need to switch things up but still want to keep it low cal + healthy, I make chia pudding.

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View from the top of the breakfast hunger

If I forget to make it the night before, I toss all of the ingredients into my Nutribullet and voila! Easy breakfast.

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Blended Chia Pudding – great breakfast for the office!

Blended Chia Pudding

What you’ll need

  • high speed blender
  • spatula
  • tablespoon
  • 1/2 c. measuring cup
  • small container with a lid

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice (almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, cashew milk, etc)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • cinnamon
  • toppings! fruit, nut butter, nuts, cacao, dried fruit, coconut, granola, whatever you like

Instructions

  1. Combine the chia seeds, milk and maple syrup in the blender. Sprinkle cinnamon to taste.
  2. Blend on high for about 1-2 minutes, until thick and smooth. It will be slightly gelatinous to touch. Pour into the container and top with your favorite things. Enjoy!

Est. 203 calories without toppings

Overnight Chia Pudding

What you’ll need

  • small container with a lid
  • tablespoon
  • 1/2 c. measuring cup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice (almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, cashew milk, etc)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • cinnamon
  • toppings! fruit, nut butter, nuts, cacao, dried fruit, coconut, granola, whatever you like

Instructions

  1. Combine the chia seeds, milk, maple syrup, cinnamon to taste. Give it a good stir.
  2. Let sit in the fridge for a least 4 hours. It should thicken up immensely and have a gelatinous, tapioca like consistency. If it’s too thick when you’re ready to eat it, add a little extra milk to loosen it up. Top it with your favorite things. Enjoy!

Est. 215 calories without toppings

Tip: Feel free to add 1/8 tsp of almond or vanilla extra or 1/4 tsp orange zest to brighten the flavor. You can also do milk blends. I personally like using almond milk and canned, cooking coconut milk. It makes it so creamy!

 

A Story About Forgiving Yourself… Sort Of

This is a tough topic to bring up and I’ve decided to post my thoughts on it, raw and probably circular, on the internet.

I feel some serious frustration towards myself for letting myself become overweight. I’ve pushed healthy food professionally and personally for so many years but I didn’t commit to what I was preaching. I blamed the catering life for a while. How could I say no three cheese mac or coffee-cacao rubbed brisket?

A life-long, turbulent relationship with food and body image has brought me here. The reason I am overweight is because I have been saturated in denial about being in control of the issue.

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March 8th, 2016. Somewhere between 176-181lbs.

I know I’m not huge but I’m uncomfortable. I feel it most when I’m active but I can feel it even when I’m sedentary. My back has next to no strength to support itself and my poor hips and knees are achy.

When my brother decided to move forward with his weight loss surgery, I decided it was my turn to get serious about making some changes. So on January 6th, I started counting calories and slowly incorporating more activity into my day.

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Ow ow ow ow ow ow

Fast forward to today. I’ve lost about 9-10lbs. With the sun shining for the first time all week, I went for a run and I was slow (14 min avg pace!?!?). I was beginning to beat myself up for not being able to go longer or faster. Why didn’t I jog more? Why was this so hard? I wanted to give up halfway through the mile but I couldn’t. As a personal philosophy I don’t give up until I know the returns will be zilch.

I know this is going to be a long and slow process. I did the math- I would have to eat 1200 calories/day to lose 1lb/week to which I said, “Oh HELL no.” I love food and all of its complexities. Giving up my connection to food would be sacrificing a part of my identity (see personal Instagram tagline: Data nerd, Brooklyn biker, vegetable pusher). What I need to do is kickstart my relationship with food.  I don’t need to eat all the snacks because they’re there but if I want a donut, I should have a donut. And I should plan for that donut. I should savor that donut and all of its doughy sweetness. And then eat a giant bowl of vegetables when I’m hungry.

I’m trying to forgive myself for treating my body so badly all these years. Hundreds of days of endless drinking, mindless eating, and minimal movement that have damaged parts of me I didn’t know I had. I don’t know how to do this but I need to start somewhere. So I’ll start here, telling you about how like every other person struggling with their weight, I am mad at myself. The only way I can move forward psychologically and physically is to identify it, acknowledge it, and then let it go. Let self-love repair all that I’ve destroyed and salvage the few parts of me that are still ready to do this.

I’ll keep counting and restricting calories until I’ve reached a healthy point but I will not let anger fuel my desire to get there. To all of you sharing the same struggle, do yourself a favor and forgive yourself for failing time and time again. You’ve only lost when you’ve given up.

Also, get yourself a mantra. It helps.

Mine? Be strong, but gentle.

 

Sunday Snacks: Roasted Chickpeas

Happy Sunday! I was thinking of featuring a favorite snack on Sundays. Thoughts?

Today we’re chomping on roasted chickpeas. In the spirit of this wonderfully quick snack, I’ll keep today’s post short & sweet, but mostly savory.

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Roasted Chickpeas

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 large baking sheet lined with foil or parchment
  • colander
  • spatula
  • Paper towels or a very clean dish towel

Ingredients:

  • 1 29oz can of chickpeas, drained OR 2 15oz cans, drained
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • any other herb/spice your heart desires

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. f you haven’t already, drain the chickpeas in the colander.
  2. Carefully and slowly pour the chickpeas onto a dish towel or layer of paper towels on the counter. Dry the chickpeas until they have an almost matte like texture. Air drying works great too.
  3. Transfer to the foil/parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with about 1-2 tbsp olive oil and stir to evenly coat with oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bake for a total of 30 minutes, checking and stirring every 10 minutes, until chickpeas are lightly browned. Caution when stirring the chickpeas while they’re baking- some might pop at you!
  5. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl. Toss with your favorite spices. I have a homemade za’atar blend that I like to put on chickpeas, yogurt, and popcorn. Enjoy!

Tip: These are seriously the best when they are warm. Also, while these are delightful and vegan, chickpeas are high in protein and in calories so be sure to eat the amount that works for your diet.

Oh my goodness, Granola!

It’s finally happened. It’s taken years to be convinced that I could do it and all it took was a wonderful suggestion from my best friend.

Let’s back up for a minute. I like granola. I usually like my granola with yogurt. I don’t like whole nuts or dried fruit in my yogurt. That limits a vast selection of granola out there on the shelves. On top of that, I’m particular about sweetness and spice levels. I prefer lots of cinnamon with a touch of sweet.

I think what I’m getting at is that granola preferences are individualistic and completely based on context.

So when my best friend shared her recipe with me (and some of her granola), I knew it was time I gave it a try. By the way, her spreadsheet has a log of various trials and notes for the next baking session. It’s methodical and beautiful. Today I’m sharing the base version of hers that yielded the best result thus far. I’ve made my own tweaks because I

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Goodness Granola

What you’ll need:

  • baking sheets lined with parchment paper (use glass baking dishes if you don’t have parchment, lightly greased)
  • 1 large mixing bowl, 1 medium mixing bowl
  • measuring cups + spoons
  • spatula

Ingredients

  • 3.5 cups extra thick cut oats
  • 1 cup almonds, chopped/smashed
  • 1/4-1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, torn into smaller pieces
  • 2-2.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (plus a little extra on hand)
  • 1/4 cup canola/vegetable oil (plus a little extra on hand)
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In the large mixing bowl, combine the oats, almonds, coconut flakes, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the medium mixing bowl, Combine the oil, maple syrup, honey and extract. Carefully whisk until mostly blended.
  4. Poor the wet over the dry, mix until completely coated. If some areas seem dry still, drizzle 1 tbsp maple syrup and a touch of oil. Mix.
  5. Spread the granola in an even later on the pans. Bake in oven for 9-10 minutes. Stir and bake for another 9-10 minutes until lightly browned. Keep an eye on the granola towards the end of the second half of baking.
  6. Once the granola is done, remove from oven and completely cool. Store in airtight container.

Notes: You can use molasses or agave for vegan variations. Add 1/2 cup pepitas, cashews, etc.

Copycat Almond Butter Bliss

Let’s pretend it’s summer. Well, if you were in the Northeast the past few days, it’s probably not all that difficult to imagine. We’ve had unseasonably warm weather and my feelings on it have been perfectly captured by Sarah Andersen.

Back to what I was saying before. It’s warm out. You’re sick of salads. What do you eat?

An açaí bowl!

Açaí (ah-sigh-ee) is a berry that’s kinda like a cross between a blueberry and a grape. It’s high in antioxidants, low in sugar, and high in iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. It’s got a sweet, berry yet chocolate taste to it. You’ll often see them in smoothies and often referenced as a superfood. TLDR; they’re good for you.

They’re also incredibly finicky as a commodity. As soon as they are picked, they start to lose their flavor and their potency. They grow in tropical climates (think Brazil). So when we in the USA finally get our hands on these babies, they’ve been processed into a puree or turned into a freeze-dried powder. It’s the only way to preserve its tastiness and health benefits.

So why am I talking about açaí and what are they doing in bowls?

Juice Generation, a coveted health spot for the wellness minded, makes a fantastic açaí bowl. The problem is that the bowls cost $12 in NYC and I personally can’t justify buying that a couple of times each week. So, like every other thing I love but is too expensive, I found a way to make it at home. Mine is a bit less creamy as I attempted to keep it as low calorie as possible.

If you haven’t had a bowl from Juice Generation and you have access to one, you should *absolutely* give it a try. You won’t be sorry, even if it looks a bit like mud.

Copycat Almond Butter Bliss

What you’ll need

  • High speed blender
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • spatula
  • measuring spoons/cups

Ingredients

  • 2 packets açaí puree, frozen (run under water for a few minutes to loosen it up a bit)
  • 3 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 3/4-1 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup Nature’s Path Hemp+ Granola
  • 2-3 strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

Steps

  1. Place the contents of both açaí into the blender. Add 1/2 of the banana, 2 tbsp almond butter, ice cubes and 3/4 cup almond milk. Blend until smooth. It should be thicker than a smoothie. Add the remaining almond milk to make it blend better if needed. Keep adding more milk if it needs it.
  2. Once the mixture is thick but smooth, pour into a bowl. Evenly top with the granola. Spoon the remaining almond butter in the center of the bowl and top with banana and strawberry slices. Sprinkle with coconut flakes.
  3. Enjoy!

Tip: If you want to eat this for lunch, make your base in advanced and place in the freezer. Let it thaw for about an hour before lunch. You can prep the strawberries + bananas before hand as well. You can also halve the recipe for a smaller portion. Add some protein powder to make it a touch more filling.

Approx: 610-670 calories

Food Blogging 101

  1. Log in to WordPress.
  2. Write a post announcing you’re actually going to write something soon.
  3. Follow through.
  4. Repeat.

I’ve got some ideas and recipes I’ve been playing with for the past year and I’m excited to share them with you! Talking about food into what seems like a somewhat empty void is very intoxicating and I’ve missed it a bunch.

How do you guys feel about kimchi fried rice, mac & cheese, and acai bowls (preferably not at the same time. Or maybe yes at the same time)?