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!

 

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

Mise en falafel

I enjoy food blogging because I can share snapshots about my life and how I make my food choices. For example, I love Korean dramas. I think they’re hands-down the most predictable and engaging programs. The characters are pretty much the same across shows; the plot usually revolves around a couple who should not have crossed paths but they have and life takes them on a crazy journey. The programs embody (sometimes offensive) gender stereotypes but in this oddly sincere way. I can’t get enough of them.

These shows also make me want Korean food and vats of soju. To temper these cravings, I try to find recipes to experiment with. A place in Brooklyn makes great tofu edamame falafel but I’m outside of their delivery range. So I went with the best option: make it yourself.

The important thing to remember when making any kind of fried, cohesive food is to make sure the mix sticks together but not to your hands. Also, when you’re placing items in the mixing bowl, you can really let your organizational side come out and group the items nicely before mixing all together. It’s very satisfying.

Currently watching: Secret Garden.

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Edamame falafel over rice with marinated cucumbers, pickled ginger carrots, sautéed broccoli + green beans, homemade gochujang sauce

Edamame Falafel (makes approx. 12-14)

What you need:

  • 1 medium bowl, food processor (regular blade), frying pan, slotted spatula
  • 1 cup edamame, shelled and thawed
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 tbsp.  sesame oil (or olive oil)
  • 1-2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • dash of paprika or cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup carrots, 1/4″ slices
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 egg
  • vegetable oil for frying

How to make it:

  1. Put the edamame, chickpeas, sesame oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, salt and paprika in the food processor and pulse until nearly smooth. It should still have a slightly coarse texture. Transfer to the mixing bowl.
  2. Add the cilantro to the food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to the mixing bowl. Do the same with the carrots and place in bowl.
  3. Add the panko, sesame seeds and egg to the bowl and mix until fully incorporated. It should stick together but not stick too much to your hands. Prepare a plate with paper towels to place the cooked falafel on later.
  4. Over medium to medium low heat, heat the vegetable oil for frying. When full heated, make a falafel ball the size of a ping-pong ball and flatten slightly. Place in pan and cook until brown on both sides. If it held up okay and tastes good, proceed with making more falafel and frying. If not, add a little salt or spices or more panko if it’s too runny.
  5. Enjoy the falafel in a sandwich, wrap, over rice, or as an appetizer!

Polenty of Pizza

Pizza. It’s all I think about sometimes. How can I get it? What should I put on it? Where should I get it from? What kind of crust do I want? These are all questions than run through my mind, especially when hunger has set in and it’s only a matter of time before I implode.

I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience.

When I remember to think ahead or I have some extra time on my hands, I like to make these polenta pizza crusts. They’re simple in terms of ingredients and instructions. The process is a bit time consuming but it’s absolutely worth it. The crust is gluten-free but that doesn’t mean that it’s not filling or tastes weird. It has a satisfying texture of crispy and smooth- it’s kind of magical actually.

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Polenta Pizza Crusts (2 9″-crusts)

What you’ll need:

  • A medium pot, whisk, 2 9-11″ tart dishes, baking spatula, baking sheet
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of fine ground cornmeal + 2 tbsp
  • 1/4 cup coarse cornmeal (polenta)

Toppings (completely up to you but this is what’s pictured above)

  • 3 tbsp sundried tomato pesto
  • 2-4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded or cut into thin pieces (cheddar featured above)
  • 1 handful broccoli, cut into tiny florets

How to make it:

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the vegetable stock, olive oil, basil, oregano and salt. Bring to a boil.
  2. Lower the heat to medium low and slowly stir in both cornmeals with a whisk. Keep stirring for about 3-4 minutes with as few lumps as possible.
  3. Remove from heat and evenly divide the polenta to the tart dishes. Use a baking spatula to spread the polenta into an even thin layer. Let them cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350. Sprinkle the cornmeal on the baking sheet. Remove the polenta crusts from the fridge and transfer to the baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges are crispy and the crust has browned a bit on the bottom.
  5. Remove from the oven and top with your favorite toppings. Bake for another 15 minutes. Enjoy!

*Made vegan by not topping it with cheese.

**Thanks to Steve for help with the title.

Annnd she’s back.

After a very extended hiatus, I am excited to report that I’ve returned to the blogosphere. In my nearly two years of catering life, I have learned a tremendous amount about cooking and our food system. I’ve also been heavily involved in the process of opening a restaurant.

The takeaways? Cooking is historically and presently the most indicative element of human nature; our food system needs a lot of work; opening a restaurant is difficult.

To get the ball rolling on what I hope is a wonderful year of eating well and thoroughly (re: saying yes to butter), I want to share an oldie and favorite.

Butternut Squash Soup (for 1)

What you’ll need:

  • A high-powered blender, medium pot, chef’s knife, cutting board
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, pulped and cubed (1″)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter, preferably unsalted
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, pulped and cubed (1″)
  • Flavorful bouillon + 2 cups of water (or 2 cups of vegetable stock)

How to make it:

  1. In the medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter, covering the bottom of the pot.
  2. When heated, add the onions and garlic. Stir and cook until the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the butternut squash and 2 cups of water OR stock. If you’re using bouillon, add the corresponding amount according to the directions. Bring to a boil and cook until the squash is tender.
  4. Transfer the contents of the pot to a high-powered blender, leaving some broth in the pot. You can make the soup as thick or thin as you’d like using more or less, respectively. Blend until smooth. Add salt + pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with your favorite bread, salad, etc. Enjoy!

 

Black Bean & Quinoa Soup

When my colleague told me she made black bean soup for her household, I was jealous. But mostly, I was inspired. It was exactly what I needed to prepare for the cold weather. I haven’t been craving soups and this was the first time in months that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. You can imagine, as the queen of soups, how happy this made me!

What makes this soup special is that it’s simple. It has all the parts of soup that you could ask for: filling, flavorful and a great ratio. This recipe is based off of Post Punk Kitchen but with some minor changes. I added nutritional yeast for some cheesiness, subbed in paprika for a smoother heat and got rid of the garlic. I can’t seem to keep garlic around the kitchen long enough but you’re welcome to add that in at home.

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Black Bean & Quinoa Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, medium diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 large carrot, medium dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 24 oz can black beans
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 lime wedge
  1. In a medium pot large enough to fit all of the ingredients, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the carrots, cumin, oregano, paprika and stir.
  2. Pour the vegetable broth and quinoa into the pot. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the black beans and bay leaf. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the quinoa is tender.
  3. Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf. Stir in the nutritional yeast. Garnish with the avocado and lime.

Serves 4.