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!

 

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!

BBQ Tofu

I feel like I haven’t been getting nearly enough protein lately. I eat primarily beans, nuts and yogurt with the occasional tempeh but recently I’ve been ravenous after my meals. Meat analogs aren’t really my thing but I decided to give tofu another try. I usually cook it in a masala or crumbled it into ricotta form. Searing and dousing in BBQ sauce isn’t so bad either.

This is an amazingly easy recipe, especially if the BBQ sauce is already made. You can also broil or grill the tofu. The longer the tofu sits in any sauce/marinade, the more flavorful it will taste!

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I can’t really speak for the attractiveness of tofu in any form.

BBQ Tofu

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 6 oz tofu, pressed
  • 1/4 cup BBQ Sauce (I use Annie’s Original. I recommend Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe for homemade)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and the garlic.
  2. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tofu in an even layer. Sear each side for 3-4 minutes, until golden and slightly crispy.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the BBQ sauce until the tofu is completely coated. Serve with a hearty grain and veggie, if preferred.

Corn, Tomato & Basil Salad

I love the summer. Well, I love the fresh produce in the summer but not the heat. Even though I grew up in the swampy conditions of northern Delaware and South Jersey, I still have not been able to get used to the heat in this area. NYC is no better- most days I find myself huddled in front of the AC for a little reprieve. Nothing beats sweet Jersey corn so I guess I’ll just have to deal with the hot weather!

The tomatoes are from the market but I’m anxiously awaiting for the tomatoes from the garden to be ready. I learned that our tomatoes weren’t getting enough air flow and because it’s been rainy, there’s a bit of bacterial spot. We’re hoping it gets better (even though it’s impossible to get rid of once it’s there). Yesterday I gave the tomatoes a new haircut and today I saw one finally turning from the green it’s been to a hopeful shade of red.

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Learning how to grow tomatoes has been a rewarding yet frustrating experience.

During this kind of weather, I like to keep it simple. After a long but exciting day at the market, I came home and whipped up a quick salad. It’s satisfyingly crunchy and refreshing.

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Corn, Tomato & Basil Salad

Serves 2

  • Kernels from 2 ears of fresh corn
  • 2 medium heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsp red onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the corn, tomatoes, red onion and basil in a bowl.
  2. Toss with apple cider vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Zucchini Fritters

This hot weather has been great for the garden veggies. Our zucchini and our peppers are hot-weather lovers and have been producing at an incredible rate (and quality!) I harvested our first zucchini a week ago and we have since harvested four more, three of which were humongous.

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It’s bigger than my face!

So what do you do with too many tremendous zucchinis? Make fritters! My favorite recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. Deb is right about the amount of moisture there is when you first squeeze the zucchini- it’s surprising to see how much water a vegetable can contain! Keep the fritters warm in a 200 F oven on a lined baking sheet or prepare ahead of time and reheat at 350 F until crisp again. Thanks to Deb @ Smitten Kitchen for a wonderfully delicious and easy recipe!

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A much healthier version of potato latkes

Zucchini Fritters with Cumin, Mint Yogurt

  • 1 large or 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp flour (I used 1/2 whole, 1/2 wheat)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2-4 tbsp oil (olive, canola, etc)
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
  1. Shred the zucchini with a grater or by using the shredding piece on your food processor. Mix with 1 tsp salt and let sit for 10 minutes (this will bring out the moisture).
  2. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, mint and cumin together. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the egg, salt, onion, pepper and flour. Set aside.
  4. Wring the moisture out of the zucchini by using a cheesecloth, paper towels or in my case, by hands.
  5. Mix zucchini mixture with the egg mixture until well combined.
  6. In a medium frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat until just crackling (test with a bit of zucchini mixture). Drop the zucchini mixture by the spoonful, flatten and fry each side for 2-3 minutes, until browned. Add more oil as needed. Serve with your favorite topping!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2-4-1: Kale

This week I’m talking about kale. You know that curly, green leafy stuff or that dark green textured leaf that you’re seeing at the market and in restaurants? Maybe you’re seeing some purple kale or some red russian? Kale is popular mainly because it’s amazingly accessible, a great first step for picky eaters and it’s packed full of nutrients.

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Curly kale from our garden

What’s so great about them? Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef (say what!?) It’s also high in potassium, Vitamin C and calcium. Leafy greens are known for their calcium. Just a cup of this stuff provides about 10% of your calcium needs for the day.

Are they easy to grow? Almost too easily. We have two plants in our garden bed now and they’re doing wonderfully. We planted them in little mounds, covered the base with mulch and have been giving them plenty of water. Be sure to water under the leaves and keep them free of pests. When you harvest, cut as close to the main stem as possible, always cutting the larger leaves on the bottom first (kale grows from the top). They like chilly weather but seem to be doing okay in the heat.

What do I do with them? Saute kale with garlic and ginger, throw some in soups, enjoy in a raw salad. Or make chips. Kale is one of the most versatile leafy greens out there.

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Kale chips with nutritional yeast

Kale Chips

  • 1 bunch curly kale, washed, dried, stems removed and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. In a large bowl, toss kale with olive oil, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to taste, until well coated.
  3. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Be sure that they are not overlapping. Use an additional baking sheet if needed.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Enjoy!

Okay, where can I find them? Kale has never been more popular. I’ve found bunches at my local grocery store. I usually get some from the CSA, farmers’ market or the garden. I trust you’ll have relative ease in finding kale (at least, I hope!)

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen