Creamy Braised Lentils with Mushrooms and Kalettes

After a huge weekend, actually I should say this week of party celebrations. It was nice to get back to healthy eating and to kick off the week with a meatless Monday dish of braised lentils was just the thing I needed.

As I become more in tuned with my body and health over the past few years, I honestly do enjoy meat free meals more and more. I cannot say I am a totally converted vegetarian, though I have cautiously reduced my intake on red meat. My digestive system has notably changed for the better.

There are so many different "diets" "labels" of lifestyle these days. Apart from ethical reasons I believe you don't need a label to live your life the way you want, you know your own body and what makes you feel good and works for you. If you are eating a high quantity of protein and iron enriched foods from other sources such as lentils, brussels sprouts, other legumes and leafy greens then reducing or cutting out your red meat intake won't hurt you contrary to what we have been lead to believe over the years. Increasing your intake of plant-based foods you are providing your body with not just protein and iron but an array of vitamins and minerals that support a healthy, functioning body.

Whatever your dietary requirements this meal will make your taste buds sing and dance, leave you feeling full yet less sluggish and provide you with the protein your body requires. Enjoy on it's own as a meal or as a side with your meat or fish of choice if you prefer.

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Did Someone Say Healthy Nachos?


Is there even a thing?

Changing some of the ingredients in your favourite weekend drinking snack or hangover meal can still be tasty without all the excess calories that you kick yourself for eating later on. 

Inspired by issue 6 Donna Hay Fresh & Light Magazine  where she included some  lighter more nutritious alternatives to the heavy, cheesy Mexican favourite was a brilliant idea and was too eager to try it out. Perfect for a lazy weekend in front of the Netflix wouldn’t you agree? 

*Warning this has a good kick of heat so adjust the hot paprika/cayenne to your personal heat levels Or omit it for a mild child friendly version. 

The leftovers of any of the lentil mix is also great for topping of  baked sweet potatoes or on toast with poached eggs, as a stuffing in capsicums (bell peppers) or mushrooms, the possibilities are endless. 

Smokey Lentil and Brown Rice Nachos

A quick and easy weekend dish that is perfect for lounging around or having friends over

Ingredients

1tsp olive oil

2 cloves crushed garlic 

1 cup cooked brown rice

400g can lentils drained and rinsed 

400g tin crushed tomatoes 

1 tsp hot paprika or cayenne pepper or omit for a mild verison  

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2cup water 

Salt and pepper

300g mission corn tortilla chips

1/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese (optional)

1/2 cup labne or Greek style  yoghurt

1 zucchini spiralised 

Baby spinach leaves 

1/2 avocado sliced 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 180’c (350’F)
  2. Heat oil  in a large frypan and add garlic cook for 1 min.
  3. Add lentils, rice and cook for 2 mins, stirring occasionally 
  4. Add the tomato, hot paprika, smoked paprika, water, salt and pepper 
  5. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside 
  6. Place corn chips on a baking tray, top with rice and lentil mixture, and scatter the mozzarella cheese place in the oven cook for 2-3mins until cheese has just melted 
  7. Top with labne or yoghurt, spiralised zucchini, baby spinach and sliced avocado 
  8. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil to serve 



 

Yellow Dahl with Spinach & Homemade Naan Bread

 

For Indian food beginners Lentil Dahl is a great place to start. It’s uncomplicated requires little ingredients, one pot and a few spices. Lentils are a great source of protein and dietary fibre which makes Dahl a nutritious fulfilling vegetarian dish.

Dahl is made from pulses usually lentils that are split and stewed with spices. Turmeric is added which gives its yellow colour but more importantly Turmeric is an excellent anti-inflammatory and has had proven links in preventing and reducing the production of cancer cells. Big tick √

This is a basic recipe and can be adjusted to your liking. Some recipes also add extra vegetables in the stewing process along with chopped tomatoes. I have added some baby spinach for added greens and sliced green chilli for heat but feel free to experiment.

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Basic Dahl

  • Servings: 4 or 6 with Basmati rice
  • Time: 35mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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A easy Indian Dish that is protein packed and great for vegetarians

Ingredients

1 tb EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

1 diced onion

2 cloves garlic crushed

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli powder (optional)

1-2 tsp  grated fresh ginger

3 cups water or vegetable stock

1 cup rinsed red lentils

1 cup baby spinach leaves

sliced green chillies to garnish

Salt and Pepper

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan add EVOO and onion and saute’ for 1 minute.
  2. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin, ground coriander, chilli powder, ginger, and saute’ for 2 minutes until onions are soft and spices are aromatic
  3. Add water/stock and lentils stir and bring to the boil
  4. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and with lid on simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir through baby spinach and serve with sliced chilli and Naan Bread

Naan is a flat bread and is a staple in Indian cuisine. It is used to scoop up curries and stews, can also be stuffed with meat or salads and has many different variations depending on where you are from. I have used a basic Indian Naan recipe with a few healthier alternatives, I have replaced all-purpose white flour with wholemeal spelt flour also traditionally is lightly brushed with butter once cooked, I did omit this to keep the saturated fat low. Some other variations from different countries including Burma, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran to name a few have their own versions which are spread with garlic, added sesame seeds, nuts or raisins, cumin seeds, or even cheese more like a pizza.

Nothing beats homemade Naan bread and surprisingly its a lot easier than you think. Store bought most often contain preservatives and additives for pro longed shelf life which I avoid so if you have a little extra time make it yourself. It took me 5-10  mins to prepare, leave  it to rest while you put the Dahl on. I left it, picked up the kids from school and the dough was ready to pan cook.

 

Really is worth the extra time of prepping to have this soft, fresh bread to scoop up the aromatic spicy lentils. Indian at home couldn’t get more easier.

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Spelt Naan Bread

  • Servings: makes 5 flat breads
  • Time: 7-10 mins prep time 1-2 hours rising time 15mins cooking time
  • Difficulty: easy/moderate
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Basic homemade Indian Naan bread perfect accompaniment to curries, stews and other Indian dishes

Ingredients

1 tsp instant dry yeast

3/4 cup warm water

1 tsp stevia  or sweetener of choice (optional)

2 cups wholemeal spelt flour (you can use all-purpose plain flour)

1 tsp Himalayan sea salt

3 tbsp plain natural yoghurt

2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil

optional 2tb melted butter for brushing on finished naan

Directions

  1. In a small bowl add the yeast and warm water whisk together set a side for a few minutes to dissolve and starts to activate.
  2. Meanwhile in a medium bowl mix together the flour, stevia and salt set aside
  3. Add yoghurt and olive oil to the yeast mixture and whisk to combine, Pour into the flour and mix through with a fork.
  4. The dough should be sticky and when it comes together turn onto a lightly floured surface and gently bring into a ball do not over work.
  5. lightly oil a clean bowl and place the dough inside, cover with cling wrap or a clean tea towel and place in a warm place to rise. I like somewhere near my oven if it’s on or near a window where the sun drifts in.
  6. Leave it for at least an hour if not more the warmer it is the quicker it will rise. It should double in size. Don’t worry if it doesn’t exactly double.
  7. Turn it again onto a floured surface and cut with a butter knife into 5 pieces
  8. Roll each piece into round flats
  9. Heat a heavy non stick based fry pan on high heat to start, place one round into the pan and spread out a little with your fingers being careful not to make holes. Cook for 1-2min until the bottom is golden and has some black char marks on them. Flip and cook for further 1-2mins. You may need to turn the heat down to medium if cooking too quickly.
  10. Repeat with remaining dough
  11. This is where you can brush with melted butter
  12. Serve warm or cold with your favourite Indian dishes