Lemony Lentil Dahl

Lemony Lentil Dahl

I don’t know about you, but almost a week after the American Presidential election and even though at present it does not directly affect me on a personal level, I still feel a little flat.

It didn’t feel right sharing pictures of food on social media amidst so much tumult and as much as I normally try to limit my intake of news, it’s been almost impossible to NOT get sucked into the whole debacle… But if you are starting to worry that this post will become all political, no need. I will leave it right here, though I felt like I needed to make a note of it, as whether you live in the U.S or not, we are all human beings living on the same blue planet in this vast Universe. And perhaps it is about time that we wake up to the fact that what effects one does affect the whole. Even if it is not always felt immediately.

 

Lentil Dahl

 

This week I am planning on carry on from last’s week’s theme of Food + Love, but with a slightly different angle. The food (and friendship) angle!

This Lemony Lentil Dahl, is my take on a delicious meal that my dear friend Michele made for me this summer when I stayed with her in her home in Seattle, WA. It’s one of those simple and comforting type  of meals / dishes that I love so much. Even though I first tasted it in June it makes a great winter warmer, hence why I am sharing it with you all now.

With all that is ever ongoing in this world, my intention for this particular post is to celebrate the beauty of friendship and connection. I haven’t known Michele for much more than a year, yet if feels like we’ve already established a connection that runs much deeper than what short time we’ve known eachother.  You never know with whom you might connect, or where or when. Today we have perhaps more opportunities to connect with people than ever hadn’t it been for the Internet.  Me and Michele connected through an online mentorship programme and after many hours of Skype we eventually got to meet in person.

Straightforward Nutrition

Me & Michele on a hike in WA.

This whole experience brought it home to me again, that when it truly comes down to it, what matters most is people and the connections we establish with one another. It also highlighted the fact that even though we might come from different countries, with different backgrounds and upbringings, when we meet people who share the same values like ourselves, there’s an instant connection which goes beyond all of that, and one on which we can build a stronger bond going forward.

When I asked Michele for the recipe of this dish she told me that it was not “hers”. My understanding is that as long as, if you use someone else’s recipe word for word, (obviously!) full credit is due, but nobody has patent on ingredients or combination thereof. This lends itself to the beauty of creativity, possibility and change. Maybe even a celebration of the fact that nothing ever stays exactly the same…

So a bit like “Chinese Whispers” things can get lost in translation and we make our own interpretations. For better and for worse. This is my interpretation of Michele’s Lemony Lentil Dahl, and I’m sharing it here with you as a celebration of the possibilities that is connection and friendship (and food of course!)

*Please note that this recipe is one of those that has “fluid” measurements. So even though I have given some exact ones below, please feel free to experiment and adjust according to your own preferences both when it comes to taste and texture. More liquid will give a more soup-like consistency.*

Michele’s Lemony Lentil Dahl (With my interpretations)

Serves 2 (Double the recipe and make a large batch if you are feeding many or want to fill your freezer)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 large or 2 small yellow onions

250g red lentils

450 ml stock

3 lemons

½ tsp brown mustard seeds

2 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp whole cumin seeds

½ tsp nigella seeds –optional

2 pods black cardamom – optional

4-5 large leaves of Swiss (Rainbow) Chard or Spinach

Sea salt and black pepper, to season

Place mustard seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds and the seeds from the black cardamom pods, if using, in a pester and mortar and ground roughly.

Peel and chop the onions finely.

Heat the coconut oil on a heavy based large saucepan. Once the oil is warmed up, add all of the spices and fry off on low heat until fragrant. Add the chopped onion and fry off until translucent.

Rinse and drain the red lentils and add to the pan together with the stock. Give everything a good stir and then bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 20 min until the lentils start coming apart.

Add the juice of the two lemons. Taste and season accordingly. If you don’t think it is lemony enough, add more juice.

Wash and chop the chard / spinach roughly, stems and all and add to the Dahl. Keep stirring the Dahl until all of the chard / spinach has wilted down.

Serve warm in bowls. This recipe is one of those which tastes even better the following day, so it is well worth making some extra!

Lemony Lentil Dahl

 

Lemony Chia Pudding with Stewed Plums

Lemony Chia Pudding with Stewed Plums

Many months ago I posted a chia pudding recipe here and there’s also many, many varieties floating around the internet. Why? One reason may be because it’s a bit trendy. Just like quinoa was a few years ago. And perhaps the other reason is that it is one of these really “handy & portable” foods.

To be honest I don’t make chia puddings on a regular basis, but over the past few weeks I’ve had some serious kitchen and recipe creation inspiration, and this was one of them. (More to follow in the coming weeks as I get time to re test, style and shoot!).

Since I am such a sucker for pretty and colourful foods, when I spotted these gorgeous looking plums, I just had to buy them. A couple where consumed as straight up snacks whereas the rest formed the topping to this lemony chia pudding. However, if you can’t find any plums that look good I think some stewed apples would be equally good too. Might even try that version myself next time, since I’ve been gifted plenty of them!

grab and go breakfast

I have tried a few various liquids to let the chia seeds gel in, but I keep coming back to full fat coconut milk. I just find that it gives the best consistency, compared to other nutmilks. The creaminess reminds me of ris a´la malta, a cooked rice pudding which has then been blended with whipped cream which is usually served cold on Christmas Eve, or as in my family, when I was a child we on Christmas Day. Always made from the leftover rice pudding from the night before.

So… This pudding may get you into the festive spirit (!).

The best thing with this dish / breakfast / snack is that it can be pre-prepared and if you make the chia pudding in a jar then it is easily transportable too.

chia seeds

Lemony Chia Pudding with Stewed Plums

Serves 1

200 ml full fat coconut milk – if you milk is separated you may have to gently heat it first

2 1/2 tbsp chia seeds

juice + zest of 1 lemon

4 small plums, stone removed and quartered

1-2 tbsp maple syrup

 

Place the coconut milk, chia seeds, lemon juice and lemon zest in a glass jar or in a kilner jar. Mix the seeds and zest into the liquid to make sure that they are evenly distributed. Set a side. You may want to give it another stir after about 10 min, when the seeds have started to expand.

Store the chia pudding in the fridge until ready to eat.

To make the stewed plums; Place the destoned and chopped plums in a small saucepan. Simmer the plums on low heat. Stir on occasion to make sure that they don’t burn. You may need to turn heat down even further.

Keep simmering until the fruit is completely soft and has broken down. This will take about 25-30 min. Add maple syrup to taste. Allow the fruit compote to cool before serving it with the chia pudding.

* My tip is to make the stewed fruit and the chia pudding the night before you intend to eat it. It may take a little forward planning, but once you have that, making this recipe is a breeze. Just stew the fruits at the same time as you are making dinner and assemble the pudding before you go to bed. Then you can get take a few min extra snooze time with clear conscious then next morning…! You can of course serve the fruit compote warm too 🙂

lemony chia pudding

 

 

Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk

Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk

This hot drink is surprisingly easy to make, so don’t be put off just by looking at the (long) ingredients list! Admittedly that used to be one of the things that was a deciding factor for me in the past when trying out new recipes, but slowly but surely I’ve extended my both my skills and my spice selection, through evoking some curiosity and a desire to keep pushing outside my comfort zone.

Like all things worth pursuing, it’s often outside that (in)famous comfort zone where some of the magic happens.

As the seasons change, it thought it was time to have something warming and nourishing back on the menu and I feel myself back craving for more warm comforting meals and warming foods which means more spices.

This week, we are more than half ways through Whole Detox, and we’ve traveled through from rooty red to the gorgeous gracious greens of love. For the final week we are moving into TRUTH, INSIGHT and SPIRIT, which is usually great fun, albeit uncomfortable at times when it comes to unraveling and walking on our path of self-discovery.

The other thing apart, from all the delicious focus on eating lots of colourful foods, is the nourishing community. The support, care and camaraderie, found in a small space online is just great. I think we sometimes forget how important it is for our wellbeing to surround ourselves with likeminded people. And as well as that, when we are working though difficult things such as negative thought patterns and emotions, both sharing our stories with others in a safe space and to be witness to other people’s stories is so healing.

spicy warming cashew milk

I feel like when we read and listen to others’ stories that we realise that we are in fact not alone in our human struggles. Somewhere out there is someone else who has been through something similar and we can take comfort in this, knowing that what we are feeling is normal.

For me hearing about other people journeys through difficult times have given me both hope and courage to carry on believing in possibilities of change, when I’ve been in a head space that’s made it difficult to imagine so for myself. And the resilience of the human spirit never seem to amaze me either.

nourishing warming winter drink

But let’s return to the recipe! This one actually came about as an inspiration from one of the recipes in Whole Detox called “Spice Shake”. Then I spotted that one of the other participants had made a warm version, simply by heating up the ingredients! Which totally appeals to m at the moment, satisfying all my cravings for warm nourishing comfort foods.

I’ve seen some variations of this type of drink around the internet over the past year or so, and I actually tried one, I think it was last year, but I was so put off by the overpowering combination of coconut and turmeric (which felt to me like I was drinking a curry!) so I abandoned the idea of having a go at it again. Normally this is the warming turmeric drink that I go for.

 But I think this one might be repeated! I have made a couple of tweaks to the original recipe that inspired me. One is to use cashew milk instead of almonds or other nuts. Cashew nuts are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. And they are really versatile as they are starchy but without insoluble fibre, which means they make the nicest and thickest nutmilk you can imagine and you don’t have to strain it either! However, you do need to plan ahead a little bit and get your nuts soaking the day before. Or at a push, for a few hours. It is worth it though and not actually much of an effort at all.

Spicy & Warming Cashew Milk

Serves 2 ( you will get more spice mix to use for future cups)

For the Cashew Milk

1/2 cup cashew nuts, raw

500ml water

For the Spice Blend

2 tbsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp mixed spice or pumpkin spice blend (usually a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger & allspice)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground ginger

For the final cup

1-2 star anise

1 tsp coconut oil, raw & organic – optional

1/2 – 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

To make the cashew nut milk; Soak the nuts in enough water to cover, overnight. In the morning rinse and then blend with fresh water. Store in a glass bottle or jar until ready to use.

To make the spice mix: Add all ingredient into a small glass jar. Mix until well combined.

To make the warm & spicy cashew milk drink; Add the cashew milk into a saucepan. I usually use the cup that I’m intending to serve out of as my measurement. Add 1/2 tablespoon of spice blend per person to the milk plus one – two star anise. Gently health the milk whilst stirring with a whisk. Once the milk is warmed through, add the coconut oil, if using as well as the honey or maple syrup. Give it all another whisk so that the oil and sweeteners are dispersed throughout.

Serve up!

straightforwarn nutrition

Cavolo Nero Salad with a Mexican Twist

Cavolo Nero Salad with a Mexican Twist

This weekend I finally feel like I’ve hit those Autumn vibes in my kitchen. After a massive haul of fresh groceries, since my fridge was literally empty on fresh food and 2 hours of cleaning out my pantries I think I feel ready to move into the last quarter of this year. And to get cosy with woolly jumpers, fires and some hot chocolate. It’s time to pull out the soup pot and get ready for stews and soups. But before we arrive there, I thought I’d share with you this spicy creation, kind of like a bridge connecting the late summer / early Autumn with the slow arrival of shorter colder days.

I mean, of course you can still have salads in the Autumn / Winter. It doesn’t have to be all about cooked comfort foods. What I’ve come to do is this; to stick with the seasonal greens for salads. In doing so it feels natural to have salads to ensure that you still get some greens into you. Which can easily become a bit more of a struggle come winter time.

cavolo nero

 

Cavolo Nero or sometimes called Black Kale or Dinosaur Kale (due to it’s appearance) is a variety of kale that’s also pretty easy to grow yourself. Last year I did so successfully and the plants kept on giving way into the late Autumn. I love how kale just keeps growing up and sprouting out new leaves for one to cut and enjoy. It’s such a generous plant!

However this year the lovely caterpillars got stuck into it early on and I got completely outnumbered… So this year I’d have had to go and buy some instead.

This type of kale has the same amazing benefits as your regular curly kale, which contains vitamin K and C (antioxidants) as well as being a great source of easily absorbed iron and calcium. It is also a great source of chlorophyll, which is essentially the compound which plants use to absorb the light from the sun and turn it into a source of energy via photosynthesis. This is how the plants store the sunlight and make it available for us humans, through when we are eating the plant itself.

Chlorophyll has great healing properties such as wound healing and support the body’s detoxification processes. It is possible to buy liquid chlorophyll that can be added to drinking water. It is not something I have ever tried myself though.

(Source: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/health-benefits-of-chlorophyll.html)

Another thing to note is that when cooking kale, don’t over do it or you’ll lose out on the vital nutrients. A good guideline is to just cook until the colour “pops” and you have a really bright green. That will take just minutes (if even) when steaming.

The other way to make sure you get the most out of this nutritional powerhouse is to massage it in an olive oil / citrus dressing. Most of the time I use lemon juice, but for this one I went with lime for a more Mexican inspired twist.

cavolo nero salad

 

This is a raw-cooked kind of salad with the spicy roasted chickpeas being served warm and the kale raw. You can slow roast the tomatoes too if you like for more warmth as well as a deeper tomato flavour. As soon as the weather gets cold I personally need to pair my cold food with something warm, even if it just a cup of tea!

If you eat meat, I think this salad combination will work well with chicken.

 

Cavolo Nero Salad with A Mexican Twist

Serves 2

6-7 leaves of cavolo nero

1 large avocado or 2 small ones

1 cherry tomatoes

juice + zest of 1 lime

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp good quality maple syrup

sea salt & black pepper to season

FOR THE ROASTED CHICKPEAS

1 tin of chickpeas in water, drained & rinsed or 1 1/2 cup cooked from dried

1/4 tsp chipotle or cayenne pepper

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp olive oil

a pinch of sea salt

 

Start by roasting the chickpeas; Preheat the oven to 175°C. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In a small bowl mix the olive oil with the spices and a pinch of salt. Add the chickpeas to the oil-spice mix and toss until well coated.

Place the chickpeas on a lined baking tray and cook for 30 min, until crisp. (Whatever you don’t end up using, can be stored in an airtight container and enjoyed as a snack on their own.)

To make the salad; Cut the stems from the kale and then chop it into bits. Mix olive oil, lime juice, lime zest and maple syrup together in a small bowl. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Add the dressing to the chopped kale and gently ‘massage’ it into the leaves with your hands.

Cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Scoop the flesh out and cut into cubes. Halve the tomatoes.

Place kale, avocado, tomatoes and roasted chickpeas into a bowl and serve.

cavolo nero salad

What is your favourite Autumn / Winter salad combination? Please share below 🙂

 

Red Cabbage Salad with Coconut & Blueberries

Red Cabbage Salad with Coconut & Blueberries

I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for the longest time ever! And I’ve also wanted to share a red cabbage recipe here forever… The funny thing is when you do food blogging though is that there’s so much timing involved. At least if you are trying to keep things somewhat seasonal. This means that sometimes I don’t  get to act on the ideas I get, or end up trying things, even shooting the recipe and then never getting around to publish it, because life gets in the way or perhaps I’m not organised enough. Or maybe it is a combination of both??!!

I don’t know when my love affair with red cabbage started, but somewhere along the way it did. Now, for me it is a seasonal vegetable and one I tend to mostly enjoy Autumn – Winter – early Spring time. I’ve never tried growing it myself for I think three reasons. One, I don’t have much space and each head takes up a lot of space. Two, they take ages to grow (and that’s hard if you are low on patience). And three, every year around this time we seem to get an infestation of little butterfly larveas that eat anything that belongs to the cabbage family. At the moment it’s particularly bad and they’ve eaten a lot of my precious kale. So if you happen to have some tips on how I can kindly ask them to go and snack else where, please share!

 

straightforward nutrition

 

This recipe may sound like an unlikely combination but it actually covers all the different taste elements in one bowl and it’s also a visual delight! Apparently most people don’t eat enough of blue / purple foods and in this bowl you get two different types straight up.

Blueberries are tasty little nutritional power-houses. Their blue plant power comes from the phytonutrient anthocyanins which have been shown to improve both memory and eyesight. They are of course delicious on their own as a simple snack, perhaps paired with a few walnuts for extra brain power potential, or on top of the morning smoothie / porridge / granola. Or you can be a little bit more “out there” and add them in a salad like I’ve done here.

Red Cabbage is one of my favourite winter vegetables. (Ok, ok, I hear you it’s still summer!) It reminds me of Christmas in Sweden and having cooked red cabbage with the Christmas ham. One of the first natural healing remedies a learnt about in college was the healing power of cabbage juice for stomach ulcers as it is rich in the amino acid glutamine as well as the cancer protective phytonutrient indole-3-carbinole. Cabbage is also rich in vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 (important for a well functioning nervous system), calcium, magnesium and manganese.

Savoy cabbage, the beautiful green leafy head one, is very popular here in Ireland and a staple part of the national dish “Bacon & Cabbage”. I will admit that it has taken me some time to really get into the swing of cabbage love, but just as with beetroot, I’m a total convert these days. If not just for the great health benefits it brings, but for the beauty if the colour alone!

If I’m cooking green cabbage I like to steam or blanche it quickly so that the colour just pops and turn out to be a really bright green. With red cabbage my preferred way of eating it is slowly cooked with spices, red onion, apple and a little bit of red wine vinegar. But that’s a little bit too wintery for now…

 

Straighforward Nutrition

 

You can keep this salad entirely raw if you like, but personally I prefer red cabbage cooked hence I am doing it here. However with this salad the finely shredded cabbage is cooked in the oven for just 15 min so it is more heated through than “cooked”. It does soften in and takes away that “rawness” that I’m not super fond of. But do as you please, this recipe is flexible enough to make sure this seemingly odd combination will still work for you!

Red Cabbage Salad with Blueberries & Coconut

Serves 2 generously

1/2 a head red cabbage, outer leaves removed and finely shredded

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup dried coconut flakes – if you buy untoasted ones you can choose yourself if you want to toast them or not

1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

4 tbsp olive oil

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme – optional

Heat the oven to 180°C. Remove any damaged outer leaves of the head of cabbage. The shred it finely. I prefer using a cheese slicer, but if you don’t have one of those you can use a mandolin. If using a mandolin you may need to cut the cabbage into wedges. The trick is to get it as shredded as finely as possible as it makes for a much nicer texture, in my opinion at least!

Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl and add the olive oil. Gently massage the oil into the cabbage with your hands with some kind squeezes.

Then place the cabbage on a baking tray. Scatter it out evenly and then add the rosemary and lemon thyme (if using). Bake in the oven for about 15 min until warmed through and soft. Make sure you toss it about a few times in between to ensure even roasting.

*Note* If you want to make this salad entirely raw, then skip the oven step.

Once cooked, place the warm cabbage in a serving dish, drizzle some balsamic vinegar over it, add the blueberries and the coconut flakes.

Serve, enjoy, and give your brain a boost at the same time!

 

Straightforward Nutrition

Want to add more colour to your life and plate? Download the Rainbow Bowl Ebook and get creative!