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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All the lentils, all the time

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Soo… mo’ lentils!

Mmm. For such a tiny little thing they pack a nutritional wallop and are astoundingly delicious.

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In other news… I love when I can walk outside and pick a snack out of my garden.

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And that the crepe myrtle in the front yard is practically exploding. When I was in school it seemed like I would always miss the blooms, but this year it’s making up for it in full force. See? Pink explosion.

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Anyway. OH! I almost forgot. Pluots are amazing right now, you should go eat one.

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Right. Lentil pasta. An excellent idea, not sure why I hadn’t thought to do this before. The sauce texture kind of resembles bolognese but is obviously meat-free, which is a nice alternative and just as delicious. Besides, lentils are cheap and filling and super good for you, so everyone wins! Besides all that there is essentially a metric ton of veggies crammed in here, so you can feel reeeeally good about eating it. Winner, winner, lentil dinner! Ha.

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I don’t think my brain is working too well on account of a really filling and tasty lunch (nap time? I think yes) soooo… I’m going to leave it at that. Pictures for you, hooray!

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Lentil Marinara

Recipe serves 3 for dinner, with bountiful leftovers (so really 4 for dinner with some change). Healthy and delicious, and relatively fast, this can be on the table in less than an hour.

  • 1 c  lentils, rinsed (I used French lentils, they’re smaller and chewier)
  • 2 c water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1/2 clove garlic (I used 1/2 of the little frozen chunks TJ’s sells)
  • fresh basil, marjoram, oregano and sage to taste (Dried is fine too)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/6 c (ish) good red wine (Optional. I never measure)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • a few heaping handfuls of mixed greens or spinach
  • 1/2 zucchini, grated
  • 2 c green beans, parboiled
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (just tomatoes)
  • pasta noodles of choice for serving
  • avocado for serving, optional (but recommended!)

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Combine lentils and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook until the lentils have absorbed most of the water and are soft but still have a bit of bite, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a  sauté pan, toss in a bit of olive oil and heat over medium-low. Sauté onions until translucent, about 5-10 minutes depending on your onion-crunchy preference. Add garlic, basil, marjoram, oregano, sage, and wine and sauté a few minutes more. Add in bell pepper, mixed greens, zucchini, and green beans, and keep sautéing, until the veggies are cooked and delicious. Toss in the can of tomato sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and the cooked lentils. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes to get all those wonderful flavors to comingle… then serve over noodles! This is excellent topped with avocado, or cheese if that’s your thing!

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An absurd amounts of lentils (is maybe the best thing ever!)

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Shut the front door.

LENTILS.

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There are no words.

Except…

I’m obsessed?! Forget the question mark after obsessed. No question. Ob. Sessed. As in…I eat them for three meals a day (not in the same day, obviously, but I do kind of have to stop myself from doing that): breakfast, lunch, dinner. I put them in oatmeal. With coconut milk and a date (seriously. You don’t know what you’re missing until you try it). Over sautéed mixed greens for lunch. With bread and mo’ veggies for dinner. Or a snack. Or whatever. OBSESSED. Lentils, where have you been all my life?!

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I’m not entirely sure what I was eating up until now in order to fill this gigantic hole that is now filled with lentils… thankfully I can make huge vats at one time so that I have lentils for days (literally). Which means I kind of go through them a little, ahem, rapidly. Kind of like vegetables. But lucky for me, last week Whole Foods had a one day bulk sale!!! (danger, danger, this is my kryptonite) So now my cupboards are exploding with all kinds of fun bulk-type things like pepitas, mung beans, brown rice, dates, and.. oh yeah. LENTILS. Three. Different. Kinds. I literally have enough lentils to feed a small army. Or me. For about a week.

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This is my favorite way to make them: they can be sweetish (in oatmeal with coconut milk and a date), or savory, over sauteed greens with avocado and a little splash of coconut aminos (or soy, if that’s your thing). I love that they can go either way, depending on what meal I’m eating or whatever.

You don’t even have to be alternative like me to enjoy them… if lentils in oatmeal scares you (we might not be able to be friends anymore but I’ll try really hard…) just make the lentils! They’re fast and delicious and… healthy! Naturally. Would I share anything less than that with my invisible internet friends? Answer: no!!

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Lentils are also awesomely little super nutritious powerhouses: full of fiber and complex carbs, folate, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Which all means that they help lower cholesterol, are good for your heart and digestive health, provide an excellent source of energy and iron, and help stabilize blood sugar. Therefore… in a nutshell: eat lentils!! Your body will thank you :)

And look!! Sorry for the radio silence, my former roomie Kira visited me!! We went and had some fun in Mountain View Cemetery, so I was a little too busy going face-first into a plate at Rick and Ann’s to eat lentils. But. I’m back, in full lentil eating mode, here to cheer your inbox!

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Marjoram, Cinnamon and Cardamom Spiced Lentils

Recipe by… me! Mutti gets credit too, especially when I have absolutely NO time, and she nicely makes may weekly vat of lentils for me. The measurements here make enough for dinner three, with leftovers. Or for one: Dinner, followed by three days of breakfasts….

  • 1 c lentils (I like green lentils for this)
  • 3 c water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 large carrots, finely diced (or roughly chopped, whatever floats your boat)
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • 1/4 c low-sodium chicken broth (to make vegan/vegetarian, sub veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp marjoram, chopped
  • 2 tsp cinnamon*
  • 1 tsp cardamom*
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg*
  • salt and pepper to taste

*the measurements are approximate: I season to taste as I go with all the spices, and salt and pepper. I tend to go light on the pepper in this.

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No need to soak the lentils, which is awesome. Toss lentils and water into a medium pot, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Let cook until the lentils have absorbed *most* (not all) of the water, about 15-20 minutes. They should have a bit of chew to them, but be on the softer side. Taste them, and you should be able to tell. Drain and rinse them, and set them aside.

Finely dice the onion and carrots. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan. When hot, toss in onions, and sauté until they become translucent. Add salt and pepper and marjoram, and let cook for a minute more. Add carrots, lentils, and chicken broth. Cover and let cook until the carrots are soft (this is why I like to dice them really finely, or microwave the carrots first, as it shortens cooking time and I’m usually hungry). Stir in cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg to taste, while the carrots are cooking. I usually let it go for about 10-15 minutes, unless I’ve precooked the carrots.

Leftovers keep well in the fridge for at least a week, not that I’ve ever really had them around that long… Serve warm! Excellent over greens with some bread on the side :)

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Sassy savories and other unphotogenic food items

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carpet picnic!

Woah woah woah.

Two savory posts in a row? Is she sick?

..

Nahh. Just inspired! You see… I do make savory food hugely often. Like, my mother says it’s impossible to keep me in vegetables. As in… I eat. Them. ALL. Alllll the time! (And applesauce, that too). Except that usually by dinner time, I have no interest in photographing my food because a) I’m hungry and b) by the time I’m finished photographing it’ll be cold and c) I’m lazy and d) … okay never mind there was no d. Whatever, suffice it to say this is the main list of reasons why I never get around to photographing savory dinners. Also because savory stuff can be kind of uncooperative on the photography front sometimes…. like it’s delicious but it’s freaking ugly. Or it sasses me and gets all unphotogenic when I think it’s going to cooperate. I hate when that happens! No one wants to look at ugly food, right?!

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Anyway… but this time things cooperated! Ish. And I’ve been keeping myself fully stocked in cookies, just so you know (I wouldn’t want you to get concerned, or anything). Besides, I need snacks for after my bodyrock and lifting sessions, durrrr. Sore and shaky definitely qualifies for a snack of a healthy cookie and kombucha…

This dish was a bit of an experiment, which happily turned out well. Gotta love that. It’s easy and comes together in a snap with pantry staples, which is also excellent. ANNDD I invented it! So you should doubly love it and go running to your kitchen, obviously.

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Salmon Primavera with Polenta

Recipe from.. me! The polenta is my favorite recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. The rest was inspired by the can of salmon lurking in the pantry. Serves 3, with a teeny bit of leftovers (though this does make enough polenta for another serving, there isn’t as much topping left).

  • 1.5  c polenta
  • 5 c water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 can of salmon, flaked and deboned (if necessary)
  • 1 zucchini, grated*
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 box of mushrooms (7-8ish), sliced
  • 3/4 c frozen peas, thawed
  • a good handful of fresh spinach
  • marjoram, basil, salt and pepper to taste**
  • grated parmesan, to garnish

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*I used whatever veggies we had, but any would be good. I like the sweetness of peas with salmon though, so try to have those at least (unless you hate them, of course)

**we grow fresh marjoram, so I used a few sprigs, and 2 frozen basil cubes. I salted the salmon a bit before use and then tossed in a bit later, and as for pepper, don’t use my family as an example as we’re pepper-nuts (read: we use an excessive amount on everything). Do what suits you!

In a saucepan, heat 4 cups of water to a a boil. Combine the polenta and salt with the other cup of water, stirring slightly (this prevents lumps). Once the water boils, toss in polenta and whisk constantly until the polenta thickens (for me, 11-12 minutes as I use a quicker cooking, not instant, polenta). Once thick (and you’ll know, as your arm will be about to fall off), remove from heat and stir in about a tablespoon of olive oil.

In a saute pan, heat a good glug of olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add marjoram and basil, followed by grated zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Saute until veggies are fork tender and the mushrooms have released some juices. Toss in spinach, peas, and flaked salmon and saute a few minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve over hot polenta with plenty of cheese (obvs)!

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A little cheese with your vegan risotto?

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Stop the presses!

Something savory?! What the what?

But this was amazing, so I had to share. I totally made risotto in less than an hour (And then I made cookies. All within that same hour) And the risotto was vegan. And then I put cheese on it. Don’t judge me, I love me some cheese (Life would be soooo boring without cheese, no?).  All an excellent use of my Monday, I might add.

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I’m not feeling particularly wordy today, so a short post it is. But the recipe is fantastic and was very well received… sooooo since it’s dinner time in my part of the world, this is directed at those of you over here on the west coast with me: y’all should head to the kitchen with your laptop. Right…about…now! You know you want to…

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Vegan Cashew ‘Risotto’

This recipe is slightly adapted from the Whole Foods site, which is awesome as they have some bomb stuff! Served 4, with leftovers for 2-3. This came together really quickly, and is totally nutritious and sooo delicious. It’s economical too, with most ingredients being something you’d have on hand, or that is inexpensive.

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk (soy, rice, or dairy okay too)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (I used 1.5 frozen cubes, each cube=1 clove)
  • 3/4 c low-sodium veggie broth
  • 20 oz frozen brown rice (which equated to one package. I used frozen as it’s precooked, lessening my cook time)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram
  • ground cracked pepper, to taste

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Soak cashews in just enough water to cover, for a few hours or overnight (I left mine overnight).

Peel, seed, and slice the squash. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, then add squash and boil until fork tender (4-5 minutes). Take out about a cup of squashlet cubes for later, and let the rest boil until very soft, about another five minutes. Remove squash from water and set aside.

Drain cashews, and add them to a blender (if you have a non-crap one, or a food processor like me if your blender is worthless) with the very soft squash, cinnamon, sea salt, and milk bev. Blenderize or process until smooth.

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Heat a large saute pan with some olive oil over medium heat. Add in garlic and onions once hot, and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are just beginning to brown. Add in broth, frozen rice, and reserved cup of squash cubes, and cook for another few minutes, still stirring (it’s risotto, after all…). Stir in blenderized mix still sitting in your blender*, followed by the minced sage and marjoram. I added just a wee bit more salt here, as well as pepper. Cook for several more minutes, until the sauce reduces a bit and the risotto thickens slightly (6 to 8 minutes more). Remove from heat and stir in more pepper, if desired.

*the original recipe called for 2.5 c of squash cubes. I definitely had waaaay more than that since I went ahead and used the whole (rather large) squash, so when I added the cashew mixture to the risotto, I didn’t use it all (probably about 3/4 of it). Any more and the risotto would have been too soupy—use your judgement based on how large your squash is, and how much liquid your rice absorbs. I love the sauce anyway, as it makes great dip for veggies or over a salad, so I was happy to have 1+ cups left over!

Garnish. Serve. Eat. Love!

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