Beans and Lentils…

Okay, I know most people don’t really like beans and lentils. They have a bad reputation . I think we just don’t know how to cook them and of course for the dreaded  “flatulence”.  But…they are an excellent source of fibre both soluble and insoluble, which helps lower cholesterol levels and they help maintain bowel health. They are low in fat, low-gylcemic and are great source of protein.  But did you also know that they are good for the planet?  They are actually known as “pulses” and many types are grown right here in our very own Saskatchewan, Canada! The plants actually replenish the soil with nitrogen which means no fertilizers are used and  they don’t need alot of water.  Check out www.pulsecanada.com for more great info. I just picked up this new recipe book (at Costco for $16.99-highly recommended)  and have already made 2 amazing recipes that are in this week’s meal plan. The “Coconut Dal Curry” on pg 151 was really, really good. (See recipe below) A great recipe for those of you who are not really sure anything “curry” is good. It is mild but loaded with flavor and super easy to make. The other was the “classic Three-Bean Salad” on page 79. It was sweeter than it needs to be for our taste buds so next time I would decrease the honey by half. (Even Kirsten liked it who usually picks out every chickpea!) They really take the “fear” out of cooking beans and  have some tips for reducing the gas factor. If you have not been cooking with beans, chickpeas, peas or lentils a whole lot  please take it slow.  Your body will need to adjust.

Coconut Dal Curry (modified slightly)

1 1/2 cups dry red lentils

olive oil, for cooking

1 large onion, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp curry powder

1 tsp raw sugar

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp salt

one 14oz can lite coconut milk

1 tsp garam masala (optional)

Handful of chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Put the lentils in a medium saucepan, cover with water by an inch or so, bring to a boil and then simmer for 12-15minutes until soft. Drain. (mine were done in about 10 minutes with no water left to drain). Meanwhile, heat a good drizzle of olive oil in a separate pan and saute the onion for 7-8 minutes, until golden. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the curry, sugar, chili powder, salt and then the cooked lentils and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cook until it has the consistency you want- dal can be runny but will thicken up as you cook it. Stir it occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the garam masala and sprinkle with cilantro if you are using. Serve with brown rice or basamati and some side steamed vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, peas.

*Wondering where to buy red lentils?  I buy them in bulk from Springfield Bulk Foods, but you can probably get them anywhere. You can also pick up your spices there  in small amounts especially if you are not sure about using them again.  The garam masala is not spicy, just adds a nice flavor to the dish. Enjoy:)

Meal Plan Week One

Meal Planning is the best strategy you can use to making healthier meals and de- stressing the 4 pm “what am I going to make for dinner?” frenzy.  Depending on your grocery shopping day, take stock of what you have on hand that needs to be used up and then plan away.  Make extras for leftovers for lunches or the evenings you know are going to have everyone running out the house early.  Grocery shop according to your plan. Be flexible during the week to move your plan around from one day to the next. I already feel better knowing that my week is planned out…. see below. (I will start adding recipes as I can:) Just substitute your family favorites for your own.

Meal Plan-Week One

Sunday           Brown Rice, Coconut Dal Curry, steamed cauliflower,carrots, peas

Monday           Leftovers or Black Bean Quesadillas with salsa & guacamole

Tuesday          Miso Salmon, Brown Rice Pilaf (use leftovers), steamed broccoli, Bean Salad

Wednesday     Minestrone Soup, 1 thick slice alpine bread

Thursday        Whole wheat linguini & spaghetti squash with Garlic & Olive oil and leftover salmon,  steamed green beans, roasted red peppers, mushrooms & zucchini

Friday             Brown Rice with Stir Fried Vegetables (mushrooms, green & red cabbage, snap peas, carrot, red peppers) & Homemade Peanut Sauce

 Saturday         Homemade Thai Pizza on Whole Spelt Crust

                        (leftover peanut sauce base with zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, red pepper, topped with crushed peanuts and bean sprouts)