Peace, Love & Lentils

Go through your pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge; what ‘treasures’ have you found? Pick an ingredient/spice/condiment that’s been hanging out for a while and give it the attention it needs. Share a healthy recipe made using your new-found pantry prize.

Spring cleaning the pantry my shelf in the cupboard. It doesn’t take long.

My share-house-pantry-space-restriction coupled with my disdain for waste means that I don’t often have a whole lot of things lying around for too long. A good thing I suppose. But this month’s Redux theme is the perfect excuse to share a great lentil soup recipe that only requires a few ingredients. I did in fact have lentils in the cupboard, too.

Lentils are simply wonderful. Not only are there a bunch of ways to use them, as mentioned in my previous ramblings, they are nutritionally impressive too. This recipe uses green lentils, which are a variety that retain their shape when cooked, rather than breaking down and going mushy. A cup of lentils gives you 16 grams of dietary fibre, and also provides you with a serving of protein. In addition, because lentils (and other legumes for that matter) are so nutritious, half a cup also count as a serve of vegetables as well. Nice.

Due to the high fibre content of lentils, and other legumes, a lot of people experience digestive discomfort (read: gas, bloating and other fun stuff), so if you’re not consuming them regularly, best to start off slow so that your gastrointestinal tract can get used to it. Whenever we make a major change to our diet, our bodies need time to adjust, so take it easy. It also helps to soak your legumes in cold water over night and give them a good rinse before cooking.

Thanks to Melbourne’s ice-cold chill as of late, I thought soup would be most appropriate. The recipe I’m sharing below is how I usually make it, although on this particular occasion I had to substitute for what ever I had available in the fridge, so it’s pretty versatile. Dinner was literally the other thing that could warm me up today!

kitchen

Lentil Soup

1 x TBS olive oil

1 x brown onion

2 x cloves garlic

2 x stalks celery

2 x carrots

1/2 x cup white wine (optional, but do it)

1 x cup green lentils

1 x lemon, juice and zest

1 x litre of vegetable stock

1/2 x bunch parsley (can sub in dill)

s & p

lentil soup

  • Chop the onion, garlic, celery and carrot finely
  • Heat oil in a large pot over a medium heat
  • Add onion and cook gently for 5 minutes or until softened
  • Add garlic, carrot and celery and cook for another couple of minutes, giving it a good stir
  • Then add in the white wine, vegetable stock and lentils
  • Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for half an hour or until lentils are softened
  • Add in lemon juice, zest and parsley at the end of cooking
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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The Mysterious Jerusalem Artichoke

I was inspired by my salad at Brighton Schoolhouse last week, so off I went to find some jerusalem artichokes for myself and ended up learning a bit about them along the way. I was pleasantly surprised to find out they are a really good source of iron, with 150g providing 5.1mg, which is 28% of the RDI for women aged between 19 and 30 (we need higher amounts of iron to account for losses during menstruation).

There’s only a small window when the jerusalem artichoke is in season, late winter July/August in Melbourne, and they proved to be a bit tricky to find, so you might have to go on a bit of a hunt – worth it though! The best way I can describe them is like a roast potato, but a bit sweeter.

Just a simple salad for lunch. Eat it warm or cold, lasts in the fridge for a few days so it’s a good one to take along to work. Recipe based on My New Roots.

 

Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale & Lentil Salad

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1 x bunch kale, shredded

1/2 x red onion, finely chopped

1 TBS x minced garlic

1 TBS x olive oil

500g x jerusalem artichokes, diced (6-7 artichokes)

1 x tin lentils (or 1/2 cup dry puy/brown lentils, cooked)

1/3 cup x toasted almonds

Coat the artichokes with 1/2 the olive oil and roast in a hot oven for ~30 minutes or until tender

Saute the onion and garlic in the rest of the olive oil for a few minutes

Add kale and cook until leaves turn bright green, take off the heat

Dry roast the almonds in a hot pan until evenly browned (you should be able to smell them when they’re done but don’t let them burn)

Stir through lentils and almonds

Dress with equal parts olive oil & lemon juice (i used a TBS of each) and some chilli if you like

Season with S &P

Tree Hugger

The Melbourne Sunday Brunch happened on Saturday today. I like to live on the edge occasionally.

We checked out Brighton Schoolhouse. Beautiful building on St Andrews Street in Brighton. I’ve been thinking about trying it out because i’ve been curious about the up and coming ‘almond milk latte’, and this place is one of the few Bayside cafes that offer it. I did a quick read on the net and found out a bit more which was what inspired this post today! Brighton Schoolhouse is big on food ethics and sustainability. Two of my favourite things! Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible and the menu changes depending on what’s in season, which is a big principle i like to work by.

Food sustainability is a bit of a problem in Australia at the moment. I think people have become completely disconnected and isolated from their food. We go to the supermarket, we buy our milk/meat/fruit in nice packages and then we go home. Does anyone stop to think where it came from? We are spoilt for choice at the big supermarkets… cherries are a stand out, cherries in winter, how lucky! But those cherries are from America, and have travelled thousands of kilometres to get to that shelf. It’s not just the shelf life that I’m concerned about..nutritional value also decreases, especially Vitamin C, the longer the produce is exposed, as well as something called ‘food miles’. Food miles refer to the effect that transport has had on the environment, such as the green house gases that have been emitted from the truck driving our bananas from Cairns to Melbourne.

(If this is something that interests you, you can read a bit more about what the Public Health Association of Australia is doing about it here.)

A few simple things you can do to lessen your impact…

  • do a bit of research and find out what’s in season, buy and cook according to that! I like to use this guide.
  • go to farmer’s markets – i know i am a food nerd but i love going to the markets on Saturday morning! Not only do you get access to great produce, you get to meet the people who grew it too! (and did i mention free samples?)
  • take a look at the signs in the fruit and veg section, if it says ‘imported’ then it’s pretty safe to assume it’s not in season here in Aus and has come a long way away to be on the shelf.
  • if you’re a real keen bean check out CERES Fair Food Program – they do a fruit and veg home delivery or local pick up service and their produce is organic and locally sourced 🙂

Ok – now that the ranting and raving is over, i should probably mention what i ate! The almond milk latte I would give a miss next time, I am a soy girl through and through. The almond milk would be good in a chai though…And for lunch i got a lovely quinoa (i know i know i can’t get enough of it) salad with jerusalem artichokes, kale and haloumi. If you have never tried jerusalem artichokes, go get some! Winter is prime time for them and they are delish when you roast them in the oven.


Brighton Schoolhouse on Urbanspoon

Winter Blues

Mornings are my favourite time of the day. First one up, nice and peaceful, the kitchen all to my self. I have a feeling I was up so early because of my stupid cold making breathing a challenge :/ The weather has been awful this week, and I thought my immune system could do with some extra vitamin C, so I decided to make one of my favourite winter recipes. Vegetarian chilli.   Most people think oranges are the best source of vitamin c, but alas! They are no where near as good as capsicums. One cup of diced red capsicum contains more than three times the amount of vitamin c that we need for the day :O (RDI for females = 30mg). Other sources high in vitamin C include chillies, guavas, and kiwi fruit.

I stopped using a recipe a while back because I got lazy, so it changes a little every time but always tastes good. My last batch was my best because I finally managed to find chipotle chilies, which made a big difference – so well worth it if you can be bothered sourcing them. (I found mine at a fancy foodie store in Footscray).

Recipe as follows (for now)

2 x tbs olive oil

1x large onion

3 x cloves garlic

1 x tsp each of cumin, cinnamon and smoked paprika

1 x chipotle chilli in adobe sauce

1 x tin of crushed tomatoes

2 x tins kidney beans (or 1 cup dried)

1 x red capsicum

1 x green capsicum

1 x tbs good quality cocoa

1 x large sweet potato

coriander to finish

pre-heat oven to 200

coat the sweet potato in olive oil, cumin and a bit of sea salt pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes or until it looks nice and golden

mean while sauté the onion in oil till soft add the spices and garlic and cook for a minute but watch they don’t burn

add the tin of tomatoes, chilli and 2 tins of water and the rest of the ingredients then throw in the cocoa and give it a good stir

cook slowly for about 45 minutes when it’s reduced a bit then you’re good to go!

Top with roasted sweet potato and garnish with coriander I like to serve mine with brown rice too

 

A side note to burst our bubbles à it’s actually a bit of a myth that vitamin c can boost your immune system when you’re sick. Sorry guys! No conclusive links have been found between the two. Some research has shown that vitamin c may reduce the duration of a cold slightly, but once you’re infected it’s too late! But by all means, go ahead and try anyway, can’t hurt to load up on oranges, capsicums and garlic! Maybe there will be a placebo effect and you will trick yourself into feeling better 😉