easy vegetarian lentil potato stew

Brrrr. Sure the days are warmer, but when the sun goes down and I'm waiting for the wood stove to heat up, I crave something hearty and warm for dinner. I found this in my ziplock sack of  recipes (soon to be a beautiful binder of recipes, when I get around to it). Some sit in there for a while, hidden in the pile. This one is easy and quick. You probably have the ingredients already. Comforting food at its vegetarian best.

Yield: 4-5 servings
Cook time: 1 hour

Ingredients

1 cup green lentils
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 tsp crushed garlic
4 cups veggie broth
2 potatoes cut into cubes
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
salt
pepper


Instructions
  1. Cover lentils with water and soak for 2-3 hours (or overnight). 
  2. In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat, add onion and garlic and cook until soft (about 5 mins)
  3. Rinse lentils and add to pot. Add carrot and celery. Cook 3 minutes. 
  4. Add broth. Simmer 40 minutes.  
  5. Add potatoes and cook for 20 minutes until soft. Season with salt/pepper to taste.



chocolate nut balls

how they look, pre-firming up in fridge or freezer
Do you ever get stuck on something and can't get enough? These are my new addiction. I say addiction, but I can't eat more than 4 at one sitting. And that amount makes me oh so full----so I've learned to stick to 2. 

I've made them 3 times now and each time it's a little different. They're healthy and sugar-free but they feel like a REAL treat and fill the void from quitting sugar recently. The recipe is from Sarah Wilson

You can throw just about anything in them (within reason). The original recipe calls for 1/2 jar almond butter (how big of a jar? no idea). I've listed what I use and they turn out just fine. I threw raw cocoa nibs in the last batch, a very nice addition I would say. 
consistency of the batter will be quite goopy
Yield: makes about 24 

Ingredients
  • 1⁄4-1/2 cup almond butter or peanut butter
  • 2 1⁄2 cups nuts (almonds, brazil, cashews, almonds, pecans, etc) chopped roughly in a food processor.
  • 1⁄2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 big handfuls shredded coconut
  • 100-125 grams butter, softened
  • 4-5 heaped tablespoons coconut oil, softened

One of these flavours:

  • vanilla powder
  • liquorice root tea (gives it a very distinct sweet kick)
  • stevia
  • cinnamon
One or more of these “filler” ingredients, to adjust the consistency, if you need to/want to/have them:
  • almond meal
  • protein powder
  • chia seeds
  • maca powder

Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a bowl. Mush, stir or whatever. 
  2. Add one of the flavours (to your taste). 
  3. Add some dry "filler" ingredients to adjust the consistency. 
  4. Use a spoon and roll into balls and put on a tray lined with baking paper. Stick in the fridge for an hour. These will keep for several weeks. 
drop by spoonful on a lined baking sheet

Which fruit & veggies are sprayed the most?

**update April 22, 2013. The EWG released their 2013 guide today for Earth Day. These links will send you to their new website. The new 'dirty dozen' has changed. Happy to see lettuce and blueberries off the list!!

I love getting rid of stuff. That's what I was doing when I came across an old magazine and the 2012 Environmental Working Group's Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce. You've probably come across this list at some point. The 2012 guide (the most recent) includes some different items than years past. I was surprised to see many of my favs. Worth knowing about, yes, but not worth getting too freaked about.

I like what EWG says....
Eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use the guide to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally-grown produce is far better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. The guide will help you determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. You can lower your pesticide intake by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated produce.

Dirty Dozen Plus
Buy these organic
1
Apple
Apples
2
Celery
Celery
3
Red Pepper
Sweet bell peppers
4
Peaches
Peaches
5
Strawberries
Strawberries
6
Nectarines
Nectarines
– imported
7
Grapes
Grapes
8
Spinach
Spinach
9
Lettuce
Lettuce
10
Cucumber
Cucumbers
11
Blueberries
Blueberries
– domestic
12
Potatoe
Potatoes
Plus
+
Green Beans
Green beans
+
Kale
Kale/Greens
+ May contain pesticide residues of special concern


Any suprises for you? Do you base produce purchase on pesticide levels?
Clean 15
Lowest in Pesticide
1
Onions
Onions
2
Sweet Corn
Sweet Corn
3
Pineapple
Pineapples
4
Avocado
Avocado
5
Cabbage
Cabbage
6
Peas
Sweet peas
7
Asparagus
Asparagus
8
Mango
Mangoes
9
Eggplant
Eggplant
10
Kiwi
Kiwi
11
Cantelope
Cantaloupe
- domestic
12
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes
13
Grapefruit
Grapefruit
14
Watermelon
Watermelon
15
Mushrooms
Mushrooms


Gwyneth paltrow recipe review

Gwyneth P has a new cookbook "It's all Good". It's her second, though I didn't know she was a food enthusiast. There has been a lot of news about this book and how it follows an 'elimination diet' recommended to her by her doctor. I'm intrigued because she's eliminating most forms of sugar (using xylitol, stevia or rice malt syrup). And that wins some (homemade, low-sugar) brownie points with me...

Some thoughts:

  • I used what is labelled a YAM at the grocery store. Turns out this is actually a sweet potato. I always thought it was the other way around. It would seem that at most grocery stores all they carry is different versions of sweet potatoes. Actual yams are not usually found in our stores and are more popular in Central and South America. 
  • I was out of 5-spice: I made a version by grinding fennel seeds, whole cloves, black pepper and cinnamon in the coffee grinder. Nice save for me, but 5-spice is probably easier.
  • I used cow's milk-I had some of Craig's to use up (he doesn't like my almond milk).
  • The result is surprisingly light and fluffy. The taste is amazing. Perfect amount of sweetness. Even a hit with Craig (who kept saying "you're making YAM muffins??"). 
  • I used Bob's Red Mill brand GF flour.


Here is her recipe  Sweet potato + five spice muffins:

Yield: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 large sweet potato (yam, to us)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ¾ cup xylitol (or you can use maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups gluten-free flour (if the flour doesn’t include xanthan gum only add 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Prick the sweet potato a few times with a paring knife or a fork. Bake until soft (when a paring knife can cut through with zero resistance), about 1 hour. Set the sweet potato aside until it’s completely cool.
  2. Peel the sweet potato, discard the skin, and mash the flesh in a mixing bowl with a fork. 
  3. Whisk the olive oil, almond milk, xylitol, and vanilla into the sweet potato. 
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, five-spice powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  5. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and evenly distribute the muffin batter among the cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins cool before serving.

Not sure if I'll buy the cookbook, but if the recipes are this good, it might be worth it. I found another one of hers, Bummer Bars that I'm planning to try next. I'll let you know how it goes. 

chia pudding with blueberries

Ok, these seeds soak up A LOT of liquid. Chia seed pudding! Who would think? This is another one from Sarah Wilson. I debated making it, as it looked strange and I wasn't sure I would like the texture. But it's good! Tastes kinda like tapioca pudding (though Craig begs to differ). Worth trying just to see what you think.

**It was seriously difficult to take a good pic. Put it in a fancy dish? Leave it in the mason jar I mixed it in? It all looked weird, so I just put it in the little glass dish I bring to work.

Ingredients

1/2 cup chia seeds
1 1/2 - 2 cups almond milk (or other kind of milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder (I wish I could find some, it sounds opulent)
pinch of salt
stevia to taste (I added 1/8 tsp of powdered stevia-that amount doesn't make it very sweet)
1/4 cup frozen berries (I used organic wild blueberries from Costco-they are tiny and sweet)

Instructions

Place all in a bowl (or mason jar works well) and stir. That's it really. I let mine sit 15 minutes before I eat it. If you plan to let it sit longer or overnight, add more milk. 

Lots of pretty birds around our place these days. Here's one I see almost everyday. No idea what kind, but beautiful. (p.s. found out it's a Stellar Jay, the official bird of British Columbia)
Have a great weekend, I hope you give this one a try!

Coconut + nut granola

Seriously packed with protein and natural sweetness from coconut, this granola offers crunch & deliciousness without sugars or grains.

From I Quit Sugar, (my new favourite blog!!), I was super skeptical looking at the ingredients, but it's become a new breakfast staple for us (well, me anyway...Craig has his eggs).

Yield: 2.5 cups (or easily doubled for 5 cups and keeps stored in fridge)

Ingredients

2.5 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1.5 cups coconut flakes
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, pepitas (preferably activated ones), chopped roughly (use whatever mix of nuts/seed you like. I made my second batch without activation and they worked fine too)


Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250. 
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, spread evenly on baking paper on a tray and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden, turning halfway.
  3. When golden remove and cool immediately to get it crispy.
  4. Store in the fridge. 
Try it sprinkled on yogurt or as an oatmeal topping. 

A perfect scone

This scone I tried the other night to add an extra element to dinner (ta-da!). Lovely fresh bread, delicious and super easy.

I was surprised at how good it tasted for being so basic. The recipe is from the Scandi Foodie blog. 

This amount was plenty for 2. Plus had an extra 'disk' left over that made a good breakfast spread with almond butter and coconut oil.

Finnish Scones

Yield: 2 disks of bread, the size of small plates
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 1⁄2 cups wholemeal spelt flour (I used 100% whole wheat)

1 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
3⁄4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)


Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. 
  3. Pour in the water and the oil and mix until smooth. 
  4. Divide the dough into two. Place the dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper and pat into 1 cm disks. 
  5. Using a knife, cut each disk into 4 sections (you don’t need to cut all the way to the bottom). Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm 

Perfect with soup. Ideas to get to you started...
Lentil mental
Split pea & bacon
Ginger quinoa


Do you ♥ coconut? Try these new products


I love coconut products and frequently use milk and oil.  But until today, I had never tried coconut butter (aka peanut butter, but for coconuts). Amazing stuff, creamy and sweet. Super rich though. I ate a teaspoon and I don't think I can eat lunch now. The only ingredient is coconut flesh. I think it would be amazing on toast but I'm not sure what else to do with it yet. 

I also picked up coconut flakes. Like shredded but bigger (and more expensive). Much prettier and easier to snack on like in a trail mix.   

And, as the weather gets better, gardening season is arriving. I found this guy peeking out. 
These seed packs are inspiring of what lays ahead. I can picture rows of green....and bowls of my own organic salad mix.
What interesting things have you bought lately? I'd love to get some new ideas for products to try.
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