The perks of being a bulk squirrel

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Hiya!

It’s Sunday. I just came from a fab yoga class and now my joints feel all nice and stretchy and I also feel like there is a hole in my stomach. Mid-morning yoga always makes me SO FREAKING HUNGRY! Oi. But I’m currently placating it with a large bowl of sweet potato-egg-kale-avocado-salsa-ketchup (don’t judge) goodness sooo… things are headed in the right direction.

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And last night I made this!

YAY! for amaranth and lentils.

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If I had an alter ego it would probably be a legume….

This is an easy one pot dish that is ready in under an hour, so it makes for delicious weeknight (or busy night) meals. Additionally, if you’re like me, it’s composed mostly of bulk staples so if you’re a bulk squirrel like me, you likely already have everything. It’s also really adaptable. Don’t have spinach? Use some other leafy green thing. Hate peas? No probs, leave them out or put something else in instead.

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Besides being fast and easy, legumes + amaranth are super protein! Sort of like Super Legume Girl, or whatever my alter ego would be. Pair some super-protein with some free-radical bashing antioxidants from the veggies and all kinds of good minerals and amino acids from the amaranth, and you’ve got one nutritional powerhouse disguised as a delicious dinner.

Serve it for your next weeknight dinner and… BOOM SHAKA LAKA! Tell those free radicals they are NOT invited to your parties!

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Lentil and Amaranth Stew

Recipe adapted from Food Recipes HQ, here! I got a yield of dinner for three, plus leftovers for two.

  • 1 c amaranth
  • 1/2 c green lentils
  • 3 massive carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove (1 clove if you like more garlic)
  • 1 carton of veggie broth (1 quart, about 4 cups), divided
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 c raw spinach
  • 2 c green peas, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • small splash of Bragg’s liquid aminos, coconut aminos, or soy sauce (low sodium)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped cashews, pepitas, and sliced avocado for serving

Heat a large pot over medium high heat (I used a large soup pot for this so I had lots of room for the raw spinach to wilt down). Add amaranth and toast for about 4 minutes, or until you can smell it toasting (it will have a slightly nutty smell to it). Add in lentils, carrots, two cups of broth, garlic, and olive oil. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, adding more broth as needed (the amaranth will start to thicken and absorb the liquid as it cooks). Once you hit the 35-40 minute mark, stir in bell pepper, spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, bragg’s, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, until the spinach is completely wilted and the stew is heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve hot! The amaranth will thicken considerably as it cools—I like it thick, but feel free to thin it out with more broth when reheating for leftovers. Top with cashews and avo!

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A lentil and squashlet autumnal party

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You can never have too many lentils.

Ever.

My nickname at work is lentil. That explains a lot.

Besides, lentils are bomb since they give you a protein source to pair with all of the autumnal squashlets (no, auto correct, squashlet IS in fact a word, so there). Wheeeee SQUASH! Not only did I use pumpkin yesterday, but I also got to bust out a (homegrown!) butternut squash! Get ready, there’s going to be an abundance of orange coming in the next few months…

I love that squash coincides with my birthday. It feels like nature’s birthday present!! Large, orangey deliciousness.

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Butternut squash always reminds me of a particularly memorable game of Cranium that took place ohhh, probably sometime in high school… my pair was supposed to be acting out butternut squash, and it was maybe one of the more hilarious things I’ve watched: First word: sounds like…*points at butt*… second bit: *mimes being a squirrel burying something*… lastly and rather violently smooshes hands together—-I had been guessing as she was miming and somehow I guessed it!! Excellent mime skills right there. But anyway… I can’t really cook a squash without thinking about that, hehe.

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Skillet Popped Balsamic Lentils

Recipe adapted from Happy Healthy Life, here! I made one cup of lentils, which, supplemented with all the veggies, fed my fambam of 3 with enough leftovers for at about one meal. My butternut squash was small, so it only made enough puree for 3. Feel free to play with the seasoning—mine was an eclectic bunch of flavors that somehow came out tasting good. Funny how that works, isn’t it?!

  • 1 c green lentils, rinsed
  • 2 c water
  • 3-4 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar, divided
  • a few grinds of cracked pepper
  • judicious sprinkles of salt
  • 1 butternut squash, cubed
  • a tbsp or two of milk beverage
  • 1 tsp butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 massive handfuls of spinach, rinsed
  • a bit of chicken (or veggie) broth
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • seasoning to taste*

*I used fresh marjoram, basil, and oregano to sauté the onion, then added cinnamon, cardamom, nutritional yeast and coconut aminos (and more balsamic) to the veggies after I added them in to sauté.

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For the lentils:
Add 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add lentils, reduce heat, and simmer until the lentils are done (about 30 minutes). They should be soft but still have some bite to them. Rinse and drain.

Heat a skillet over medium, and add a small bit of olive oil. Once the skillet is hot, add about a cup of lentils, shaking the pan to ensure that they’re evenly spaced. They should sizzle and pop and make all kinds of fun noise. Let them sit for a few minutes, then toss in a tsp of balsamic and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally. You’ll know they’re done when they get a bit toasty and crispy around the edges. Remove the first batch, add more oil, and repeat until all the lentils are used.

For the butternut puree: Peel and dice squash, discarding stringy and seedy inner bits. Using a steamer basket or your preferred method of steaming, cook squash until very fork tender. Remove from the steamer and mash with a potato masher or a fork (or a food processor, but I didn’t want to do extra dishes). Add a bit of milk beverage (I used unsweetened almond) to smooth it out, and (obviously) a bit of butter and salt.

For the veggies, I did a simple sauté with a bit of chicken stock added. Chop and dice all yo’ veggies, add olive oil to a deep skillet, and let it heat over medium. Once hot, add onions and sauté until translucent. Add cinnamon and cardamom and a bit more olive oil, then the rest of the veggies (zucchini, pepper, mushrooms, and spinach. I added a bit of broth after about 4 minutes of sautéing, then chucked in all the spinach and covered the skillet to let it reduce. Add coconut aminos, nutritional yeast, Bragg’s, or whatever other seasonings you like here, add lentils, and let it cook on low for a few. Serve warm, over butternut squash puree!

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Boatloads of rain? Make mountains of curry!

mountains of curry in exchange for boatloads of rain!

The best way to combat boatloads of rain?

Make boatloads of curry!

Since Salem and the Willamette Valley are in the process of attempting to become the new Atlantis and submerge completely under water, we’ve had (by some estimates) about 6 inches of rain in the last 57 hours. Apparently the weather gods have gone completely nuts… there are creeks flooding all over the place, and according to the Statesman Journal, this is a once every hundred year occurrence, where the Willamette River rises about 30 feet. Excellent. At least I live on the second floor… Perhaps I should start constructing an ark? I’ve rather resigned myself to being damp for the foreseeable future. Forget about wet feet, I’ve been damp all over for about 4 days! Yeeesh.

Anyway, because I didn’t work today (the kiddies at Bush Elementary, where I work, got sent home due to extreme weather) I ended up with a strange amount of free time. And a headache. Which meant that I wanted nothing to do with my thesis. Consequently… baking/cooking explosion! Why would I spend the afternoon doing anything else when it’s beyond nasty outside? Right. That’s what I thought too.

Which means that mega dinner happened. Because boatloads of rain calls for boatloads of curry! And because curry is spicy, sweet, and warming all at the same time: a good thing to consume when it’s semi-monsooning outside. And then flatbreads. And cookies. I wasn’t just going to make curry, with no accoutrements, now was I?! How boring. I am now feeling quite productive and refreshed. And full. (I would perhaps like to digest just a wee bit faster… I want cookies!)

So. Without further babble, here is tonight’s din din! Deeeelicious. Go make yourself some. I would invite you over to eat some of mine (since Kira and I will now be eating curry for the next million years, hahah oops. I made a lot!), except you might have to locate a boat to come see me… maybe paddle upriver like a salmon?

curry isn't curry without a HUGE BLOB of chutney

Mega-ton of Chicken Coconut Curry, with Oregano-Yogurt Flatbread

Curry adapted from the blog Including Cake, here! Flatbread recipe adapted from here! This makes… a lot of curry. Which is a good thing! Helloooo, leftovers! And look how good it is for you! Lots of beta carotene from the sweet potatoes and orange pepper, and garbanzo beans are high in fiber, antioxidants, and minerals like molybdenum and manganese. Plus coconut is good for you on all levels :)

For the curry:

  • 1 large, 1 small (or 2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 a large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp Madras curry powder (only the best!)
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced (or whatever color you have)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • cornstarch mixed with water, if needed to thicken
  • cooked chicken (if you want. I added a broiled chicken breast to mine for extra protein)
  • I would have added spinach, if I’d had any! Next time :)

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Add onion, cooking for a few minutes until soft. Add curry powder, stirring to combine. Cook for a minute more. Toss in sweet potato chunks, bell pepper, chickpeas, and coconut milk! Simmer for about 15 minutes. At this point, add cornstarch if not thick enough for your taste. I tossed in my chicken pieces and let it simmer for about 5 more minutes. Serve hot, over flat bread, naan, or rice. And be sure to top it generously with shredded coconut (if you like that sort of thing), and mango chutney. I like me some spicyyyy curry!

Oregano Yogurt Flatbreads

I made half the recipe, which yielded 4 cute little breads. I would definitely make the whole recipe if not cooking this for just two people, so I’ll include the full measures here. I also used oregano tonight, but any spice is fine! It appealed to my olfactory sensibilities tonight :) AND it went well with the curry, bonus!

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2.5 tsp herbs of choice (I used oregano)
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 c yogurt (I used nonfat plain, not greek, as it was what I had on hand)
  • a bit of canola oil, for cooking

Whisk together flour, herb of choice, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add in yogurt, and stir to combine. The dough will be shaggy-ish, so add a little yogurt if it looks to dry. Mine seemed fine with the amount given, but I might make it again, and see what happens with a bit more. I found my breads to have a nice consistency as is.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it holds together and is not sticky. Divide it into the number of breads you want, and roll it into balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.

Swirl a bit of canola oil in the bottom of a nonstick skillet. When the oil is hot, plop the flattened dough into the pan, and cook until golden brown on each side. Serve hot, preferably with a mountain of curry!

Best dinner for a rainy day/week!