Brown Lentil Coconut Soup

Low in calories and high in soluble & insoluble fiber, lentils are a good source of protein as well as a good substitute for meat. They are filled with folate, iron, and other important nutrients. They require no pre-soaking and cook in about 20-30 minutes. The recipe below is delicious and freezes very well. I always make a large batch and pack 1-cup servings in small plastic containers to freeze and reheat for quick and healthy lunches on busy days. I prefer to use the easily available and inexpensive Brown Lentils as they hold their shape well, but I think you can substitute red ones if thats what you have on hand.

Brown Lentil Coconut Soup

(Makes about 8 1-cup servings)

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 medium onions (about 1 heaped cup) – chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes – pureed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves – grated
  • 2 Tbsp ginger paste (about 1 1/2 inch)
  • 1 tsp cayenne / red chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
  • 2 cups frozen / fresh kale or spinach
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice
  • sour cream (optional)

1) Pick through the lentils and make sure there is no dirt or stones. Rinse and drain well.

2) In a large pan, add lentils and water and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce to low flame and cook covered about 20 minutes till tender, stirring mid-way.

3) In another pan, heat the oil and add onions. Saute till transparent.

4) Add ginger and garlic and saute till fragrant.

5) Add the spices and roast for a few seconds.

6) Mix in the tomato puree and heat, scraping the bottom.

7) When lentils are ready, mix with the onion-tomato mixture.

8) Add coconut milk and salt, and simmer on low about 10-15 minutes.

9) Add the kale/spinach and simmer an additional 5 minutes till it is wilted.

10) Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of sour cream.

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Baked Oatmeal Bars

Baked Oatmeal Bars

Here’s another easy recipe for breakfast on the run or for a snack attack. These taste better than store bought granola bars, and are definitely healthier as they contain real foods rather than dozens of additives and chemicals. I am working on making these bars without the dry milk powder, but till I find a better alternative, my family will eat these instead of pop-tarts. Another fall back I’ve been using regularly is for No-Bake Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bar – recipe to follow soon as I take some pics. Baked bars adapted from this recipe.

Baked Oatmeal Bars

  • 2 cups rolled oats (NOT instant)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped dry fruit (dates, raisins, craisins, figs, etc) – whatever strikes your fancy
  • 1 cup roughly chopped nuts – whatever you like
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ (or sunflower seeds)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dry milk powder ( I’ve been sneaking in my husband’s protein shake powder, and its delicious)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 Tbsp butter – melted

1) Preheat oven to 350*

2) Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl.

3) Press into a lightly greased 8 or 9 inch square pan.

4) Bake 25 minutes until lightly golden brown and crispy on top.

5) Cool well and cut into bars.

6) Refrigerate for a month or freeze for up to 3 months.

NOTE: To double recipe, use a 9X13 pan and follow same method.

Baked Parmesan Spinach Balls

Baked Parmesan Spinach Balls

(Photo credit: Karan – 9 years old)

I have served this appetizer about a dozen times, and it is always a hit. Can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer; just take out and bake before serving. (See NOTE at end of post about stuffing mix and eggs.)

Baked Parmesan Spinach Balls

(Makes about 40 balls)

  • 2 (10 oz) packets frozen chopped spinach (thaw & drain well)
  • 1 (6 oz) stuffing mix – about 2 1/2 cups, any flavor
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 3/4 cup butter (melted)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

1) Preheat oven to 350*

2) Thaw and squeeze out water from the spinach and place in a large bowl.

3) Add stuffing mix, eggs, cheese, butter, salt and peppers. Mix well but gently.

4) Measure out tablespoons full of mix and shape into balls (I use a small ice-cream scoop).

5) Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.

6) Alternately, you can freeze the spinach balls uncooked – cover the cookie sheet with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for several hours. Once frozen, you can remove the balls and store in a ziplock bag till ready to use.

Bake frozen spinach balls 12-14 minutes at 350*

NOTE: I’m assuming that the boxed stuffing mix can be substituted with homemade coarse bread crumbs and seasonings. I have previously successfully substituted ground flax seeds for eggs when using as a binding agent (1 Tbsp flax seed powder and 3 Tbsp water – stir well and set aside for a few minutes; then mix in.) I plan on using these substitutions the next time I make this dish, and will update the post on whether it was a success. If you beat me to it, please leave a comment on how it turned out.

Vegan Black Bean Burgers

 

 

Vegan Black Bean Burger

 

Back after several weeks of absence, but I’ve been trying out a whole bunch of new recipes. Unfortunately, that was not the goal for starting this blog. It was to whittle down my collection of recipes; not add more to my stash! Anyway, some were a hit and some were a miss. These vegan black bean burgers were definitely delicious and nutritious. I made a dozen and froze them – they came in handy for quick dinners, after-school snacks, my lunch, even as a salad topping. Served here with homemade (and freezable) guacamole.

 

Vegan Black Bean Burgers

(Serves 4)

  • 2 cups / 16oz can black beans (drained well)
  • 1 small onion (chop fine)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (chop fine) – [can use red-chili powder instead]
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • few sprigs cilantro (chop fine)
  • 1/2 medium red or green bell-pepper (chop fine)
  • 1Tbsp flax meal mixed with 3 Tbsp water (substitute with 1 large egg if not vegan)
  • 1/2 cup instant oats / cooked brown rice/ quinoa (pick any one)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1) Mix all chopped vegetable in a bowl and set aside. Alternately, put everything in a food processor and pulse till fine.

 

 

 

 

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2) Stir flax meal and water well to make sure there are no lumps. Let it sit for a few minutes. (If using egg, whisk gently with a fork and set aside).

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3) In a large bowl, mash the black beans with a fork (I used the food processor and found that it was too ‘smooth’).

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4) Add vegetables, flax meal, cumin powder, salt and oats/rice. Mix well and adjust taste if needed.

5) Using lightly oiled hands, shape into 4 patties about 1 inch thick. [I lined the lid from a peanut butter jar with plastic wrap and shaped my patties in them. It goes faster if you are making a big batch.]

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6) Invert onto wax paper squares and chill about an hour on a cookie tray until firm. Alternately, these can be frozen on the cookie tray and saved in zip lock bags for later use. Make sure to keep the wax paper between the patties for easier handling.

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7) To cook, lightly spray a skillet with oil and cook on medium heat about 6-8 minutes per side. Serve on buns, inside pocket pita, sliced on top of a salad, or just by itself.

NOTE: The beans must be well drained as they will not hold if it has too much moisture. In the event that the patties are too soft, add a little more oats/rice to bind.