Move Over Butter Chicken…

…I have a new love now! And it’s name is Dal Tadka.

Butter ChickenI fell in love with Indian food not long after I fell in love with my husband 25 years ago. One of our favourites over the years has been butter chicken with basmati rice and naan bread. Well, now that I am no longer eating meat, the butter chicken is out. However, that has just given me a new avenue of Indian food to not only explore but also to fall in love with.

And it all has to do with the wonderfully humble and oh-so-delicious lentil.

Dal TadkaI wrote a blog post about month ago waxing poetic about My New BFF (also known as my slow cooker). I have had amazing success with yummy vegan creations and my latest favourite is Dal Tadka which just-so-happens to be bubbling away in my Crock Pot as I write.

As with all my recipes, I have tried this one a few times before sharing, and have made some tweaks to the recipe. I have pulled this recipe from about six or so that I liked and have combined the aspects I find appealing. The thing I love about this recipe, which I had never done before, is the tempering process; heating coconut oil to a very high heat and sautéing garlic, chile, and spices to make a delicious and fragrant finish toward the end of the cooking time.

The first time I tried this recipe I felt it was lacking in the creaminess I was looking for so I stirred in a can of full-fat coconut milk and the result was a creamy, yummy and delicious lentil stew.

Here’s the recipe. I double it so I can eat it for days. This version is the single recipe.

Enjoy! 🙂

Dal Tadka (Tempered Lentils)

Ingredients:

1½ cups yellow split lentils or toor lentils

4C spring Water

½ a medium onion, finely chopped

1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
(I used 1 28oz tin organic diced tomatoes)

4 cloves or 2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp salt

Juice of half lemon

Tempering ingredients:

2 tablespoons coconut oil

½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 clove or ½ teaspoon minced garlic

1 whole Serrano pepper

½ teaspoon cumin powder

½ teaspoon coriander powder

¼ teaspoon chili powder

Finishing Touches:

¼ cup cilantro, chopped

1 can organic coconut milk (full fat)

Wash the lentils and add the 4 cups of water to them in a slow cooker insert. Add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric powder and salt to the lentils. Cover and let it cook on low for 5 hours. Check if the lentils are almost done; you will feel a slight bite to them.

Have all the tempering ingredients ready. Heat coconut oil in a pan on a stovetop till it shimmers (should be hot). Turn off the heat. To this hot oil, add the cumin seeds, garlic, Serrano pepper and dry spices. Everything should sizzle in the pan. (Watch out for splattering spices during this process.)

Stir this tempering into the hot dal in the slow cooker. Add cilantro leaves and the can of coconut milk. Turn the slow cooker to high and let the dal cook for another hour, which allows the flavors to blend.

Serve over hot basmati rice.

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My New BFF

I have fallen head-over-heels for my Crock Pot!

I know, I know, not very sexy, right?!?

Crock PotWrong!

There is just something so wonderful about throwing all kinds of fresh and yummy ingredients into my Crock Pot in the morning and having dinner perfectly cooked for me eight hours later.

My Crock Pot relationship has always been tepid at best. However, we have really ‘turned up the heat’ since I started experimenting with vegan cooking. At the moment, I have a quinoa and red lentil stew slowly bubbling away on my counter and filling the house with a mouth-watering aroma.

Just gotta share my recipe.

As with all my recipes, I have combined a few to come up with this version. I am still tweaking so this might not be the final version but I couldn’t wait to share. I like to serve it on a bed of chopped raw kale.

Enjoy! 🙂

Crock Pot Quinoa Red Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup raw quinoa
  • 1C cup raw small red lentils (masoor dhal)
  • 2 med onions
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1” piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 6 cups water or unsalted soup stock
  • 2 tsp. ground fennel seed
  • ½ head fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. gr cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste and fresh ground black pepper

Crockpot Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa and red lentils in a bowl or pan, then drain into a colander and, when drained, add to Crock Pot
  2. Peel the carrots, slice lengthwise, then slice in chunky pieces
  3. Chop the onions
  4. Cut the cauliflower into large chunks – these will break up into smaller pieces as they cook
  5. Combine quinoa, lentils, herbs & spices and fresh ginger in the crockpot
  6. Add all the vegetables and cover with the 6 cups water or stock
  7. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or more if needed
  8. 20 minutes before serving, turn the heat up to high and stir in optional greens (like kale, spinach or swiss chard)

Just before serving, add salt & pepper to taste and remove the bay leaf

It’s Official

Oh She Glows CookbookI am now the proud owner of, not one, but two vegan cookbooks and I just have to share.

The first one is a beautiful book called The Oh She Glows Cookbook and is full of delicious and elegant recipes like Cream of Tomato Soup with Roasted Italian Chickpea Croutons or Grilled Portobello Burger with Sun-Dried Tomato Kale-Hemp Pesto. The second one is called Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week and is chock-full of yummy, funky and seriously tasty-sounding recipes like Chimichuri-Pumpkin Bowl or Nirvana Enchilada Casserole.

Isa Does ItAs much as I am loving my mostly raw/live diet, every so often I just need something hot. So, even though the humidex is currently sitting at 32 degrees Celcious,  at the moment I have a quinoa, lentil and kale stew (from the Isa book) simmering yummily on the stove and smelling delicious. I am going to serve it with roasted sweet potatoes (from the Glow cookbook).

So now I figure it’s official and I am a card-carrying vegan.

Funny how I needed the cookbooks to really be able to say that! 🙂

Happy Cow

I am on Day 9 of my 21-day meat-free Clean Cleanse. Apart from my eczema which, I think, is just beginning to subside, I feel absolutely wonderful. I am loath to make any pronouncements at this point, but I have an inkling that I will not want to go back to eating meat at the end of this 21-day experiment. I am finding my raw vegan diet extremely satisfying and completely delicious. Not to mention the fact that my energy is zippy and my clarity splendid.

The only hitch to my anticipated diet strategy is how to take it on the road for my upcoming holidays.

13-2In just over two weeks Simon and I are travelling to Barcelona for a week (part business and part pleasure). Even though we don’t leave for two weeks, I am already starting to think about and plan our trip. Usually I am thinking clothes, guidebooks and maps. This time, however, I am thinking food, food and food.

I have never travelled to Spain and I have no idea how I am going to feed myself while I am there. I know that I will travel with my Magic Bullet, my raw smoothie protein powder for breakfast and LARA bars for snacks, but what about meals?

Long before I decided to remove meat from my diet, I ran into a wonderful man at Loren’s raw food café who told me about Happy Cow. Happy Cow is a website that enables vegetarians and vegans to locate restaurants all over the world which cater specifically to their needs. At the time, I didn’t pay much attention because, frankly, I didn’t need to. As a card-carrying-carnivore, I could eat anywhere I wanted with little to no fuss.

images (25)However, now all that has changed and I am thrilled to have discovered that there are people out there in the world supporting the vegan and vegetarian world travellers.

Just before jumping on this blog post, Happy Cow informed me that there are 6 vegan restaurants, 33 vegetarian restaurants and 64 health stores right in Barcelona. I even get reviews and descriptions of each and every one of them.

So now, I get to relax and enjoy the happy anticipation of our trip knowing that Happy Cow has my back.

Now, if I could just get Happy Cow to liase with Air Canada to discover what food I can bring on the airplane with me for my seven hour flight… 🙂  images (26)

Life Force

Every once in a while a magnificent non-fiction page-turner drops into my life. And the one that dropped in three days ago, and that I am reading voraciously at the moment, is entitled Life Force by Brian R. Clement. Dr. Clement is the co-director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in south Florida and is an alternative health specialist with thirty years of healing cancer, diabetes, ulcers, depression, IBS, hepatitis, and Crohn’s Disease, to name a few .

lifeforceFive months ago, my friend, Loren, who is a passionate and wonderfully outspoken raw foodie, regaled me with her three week residential experience at the Hippocrates Health Institute. I had never heard of the institute and listened with a combination of horror and fascination as she entertained me with her experience at Hippocrates.

I was certainly fascinated but quickly dismissed Hippocrates and Dr. Clement as having anything to offer me. The foundation of their wellness program is a strict raw vegan diet and as a proud card-carrying-carnivore we were certainly at odds.

I have always loathed the word ‘vegan’. It’s not vegans I have a problem with, just the word they use to classify their way of life. It has always sounded to me like some kind of hostile alien race come to take us over and suck out our brains.

A rational attitude? Certainly not! But there you have it.

So anyway, shortly after the Hippocrates conversation, Loren began to encourage me towards numerous raw vegan recommendations. She also told me about Dr. Clement’s book and recommended it as a good starting point for me. I have no idea why, but I went straight home and ordered it off Amazon. I wasn’t in the least bit interested in entertaining a raw vegan lifestyle but for some reason, possibly to placate Loren if she asked me, I ordered the book.

A few days later it arrived on my doorstep. I carefully unpacked it and placed it on my bookshelf. And, as I did so, I realized that it would likely be in the next school Book Sale before the year was out.

When I wrote about giving up meat during my Clean Cleanse the other day, what I did not mention is that it had been Loren who had challenged me to give it a try. She didn’t even have to push me too hard. It seems I was already primed for her gentle encouragement.

6a00d8341fd10e53ef01a3fc415273970b-800wiI am on Day 4 of the cleanse. I am now four days with no meat and I am not sure I have ever felt the kind of exuberant energy that I have experienced over the past three days. I have felt it in my workshops. I have felt it in my meditations and I have felt it in my workouts at the gym.

I kind of wondered if I was imagining the shift but I really do feel incredible.

I decided to give Dr. Clement’s book a quick glance to see what he had to say about removing meat from my diet. What I really wanted was for him to tell me that I would have more energy and that my eczema would clear up. I wanted to hear the good news story about the three-week choice I had made. I was in no way prepared to get completely and utterly sucked into a stunningly wonderful read about my body, my health and the food that I have been choosing to nourish myself with.

And do you want to hear the craziest thing? I am actually considering the raw vegan lifestyle!

All I can think is that the teacher is always there when the student is ready. Loren was at the gym on Tuesday morning to give me the gentle nudge, Dr. Clement’s book was ready and waiting on my shelf the moment I was ready to read it, and my body was primed for this Radical Act of removing all animal products from my diet.

All I know is that it feels like a quantum shift in the way I am choosing to live my life.

Hey, maybe this is one of those Radical Acts of audacious health that I have been so deliciously anticipating.

I have no idea where this is heading but it sure feels like I’m on one cool and crazy ride10499254-bungee-jumping