Green Lentil Salad

Who doesn’t like an easy, mindless recipe?  That’s what this lentil salad recipe basically is, plus, it makes great leftovers, is super healthy and tastes delicious!  I think it’s perfect for this season when the weather is warmer since our bodies are looking to be nourished with more cooling foods.

It’s best to prepare your lentils within a couple months of buying them as it’ll make cooking them simpler.  Know that it is best not to add salt or any acidic ingredients to the lentils until the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, as this will result in crunchy lentils even though they’re cooked.  Also, there are different types of lentils, therefore, different cooking methods required, so this recipe specifically calls for green lentils.

FullSizeRender (17).jpg

 

Ingredients

-1 cup green lentils

-2 cups chicken broth (or water)

-1/2 yellow onion, chopped

-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

-1 bay leaf

-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

-1 avocado, cubed

-2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

-1 tablespoon pesto

-1/2 lemon

-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon

-Splash of red wine vinegar

-salt and pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Rinse lentils in a mesh strainer making sure to check for pebbles (remove pebbles if you find them).  Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot.  Once hot, add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 30 seconds or until softened and aromatic.
  2. Add the lentils and bay leaf to the pot with broth or water.  Turn heat up to medium-high.  Once at a gentle boil, turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes. Add salt to the pot the last 10 minutes of cooking.  Remove from the heat and keep covered for at least 10 minutes so lentils can soak up the rest of the water.
  3. While the lentils finish cooking, make the dressing by mixing together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small cup or bowl.
  4. To a large bowl, add the chopped lettuce, lentils, feta, avocado, pesto, and the dressing.  Option to serve with a side of toasted pita bread.  Enjoy!

Veggie Coconut Curry

IMG_4392.JPG

I crave coconut curry all the time and luckily for me, I have a restaurant just down the street that can satisfy my craving.  But that was before I realized how easy coconut curry is to make.  I pretty much thought about all the vegetables that would taste good smothered in coconut milk (so like, everything) and added in rice to make one of my favorite meals. The other exciting news?  Follow this recipe and enjoy leftovers for days.

Ingredients

-1 small cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces (or use 1/2 a large cauliflower)

-1 German butterball potato, cut into small pieces

-1/2 green bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

-1/2 red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces

-1 carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch slices

-1/2 onion, diced

-4 cloves garlic, minced

-1 tablespoon ginger, minced

-1 tablespoons coconut oil

-1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)

-1 can coconut milk (full-fat)

-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (found in a can in ethnic/Thai section at store)

-1 tablespoon tamari

-1 tablespoon rice vinegar

-optional: cilantro or basil for garnish

 

Instructions

1. Make a pot of jasmine rice.

2. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add coconut oil.  When the oil is hot, add potato, salt, and pepper and cook for five minutes.  Add about 1/4 cup water and place a lid on the pan to steam.  Add more oil if necessary. When the water has evaporated, add more water and allow to steam.  Add cauliflower. Continue to add water and steam until potatoes are slightly tender.

3. Add carrots to the pan and add more salt and pepper. Add more oil if necessary.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes until slightly softened and add the peppers, onions, garlic, and ginger. Add more salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until you can pierce the peppers with a fork.

4. Add the red Thai curry paste to the pan and mix it in with the vegetables. Cook for another 2 minutes.  Pour in the coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, and sprinkle coconut sugar. Stir to combine over medium heat.  Maintain a gentle simmer (reducing heat if need be) and cook long enough until everything is tender to your liking, about 5-10 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and stir in tamari and rice vinegar.  Serve over rice and add fresh herbs for garnish.

 

Cooking With Fat

Fats and oils are essential for cooking. They flavor and lubricate our food while also conducting heat during the cooking process. While in the past, many fats have received a bad reputation and been avoided, we now know that fast are actually fundamental and fantastic for cooking. However, because there are so many fats to choose from, many people end up cooking with the wrong fats or oils for their dish, or simply improperly using them. When cooking with fats and oils, it’s very important to know at what temperature that specific fat or oil begins to break down, also known as the “smoke point.”

Condiments494Every fat has a smoke point, be it butter, lard, or oil. If you’ve ever seen your pan smoke, typically after it loses that shimmery look, that is a sign that your fat has reached its smoke point. Once this has happened fat begins to lose its healthy properties and can start to take on an unpleasant flavor. Many oils these days will tell you right on the bottle what the smoke point is. The higher the smoke point, the more ways you can cook with the oil, and the higher temperatures you can cook at. Oils with lower smoke points are great for dressings, drizzling, or cooking at lower temperatures.

Here is a list of very common fats and oils and their smoke points:

  • Safflower oil – 510 degrees F
  • Light/ refined olive oil – 490 degrees F
  • Peanut oil – 450 degrees F
  • Clarified butter (ghee) – 450 degrees F
  • Sunflower oil – 440 degrees F
  • Vegetable oil – 400-450 degrees F
  • Canola oil –  400 degrees F
  • Grapeseed oil – 390 degrees F
  • Lard – 370 degrees F
  • Avocado oil – 375-400 degrees F
  • Chicken fat (schmaltz) – 375 degrees F
  • Duck fat – 375 degrees F
  • Vegetable shortening – 360 degrees F
  • Sesame oil – 350 degrees F
  • Butter – 350 degrees F
  • Coconut oil – 350 degrees F
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – 325-375 degrees F

For sautéing, use oil with a medium or lower smoke point, like extra virgin olive oil. When the oil in the pan begins to shimmer, add your food and cook away.

For searing, choose something with a high smoke point like peanut or vegetable oil. Heat it until it is just starting to smoke, then add your meat.

For stir-frying, choose an oil with a really high smoke point, like peanut or safflower oil. The idea it to get a thin layer of smoking-hot oil on the bottom of the wok before adding your ingredients.

The James Bond Shower

James Bond always ended his showers by turning the temperature down to freezing cold.  It may not sound super enticing at first, but cold showers have several health benefits.  Next time you’re showering try even turning the water to freezing cold for the last few seconds of your shower.  I know, you’re probably shivering just thinking about it (especially those of you on the East Coast right now), but cold showers actually have several health benefits.  Personally, I find the cold water to be extremely refreshing, even if it’s cold outside.  Don’t believe me?  Try it for yourselves!  Here are some reasons why you should try this:

1. Wake yourself up-   Cold showers increase alertness.  When that cold water hits us, we begin to increase our oxygen intake, which speeds up our heart rate and releases a rush of blood throughout our bodies.  As a result, we gain more energy to help get us through our days.

2.  Beautify your hair and skin- I love natural beauty secrets, so I’m going to share this one with you: Cold water is excellent for maintaining healthy skin and beautiful hair.  Hot water dries our skin out and strips our skin of its healthy natural oils.  Cold water will firm your cuticles and pores and will close up your pores so that dirt cannot get in.  Never shower with hot water.  Keep the water warm or preferably cold, which will keep hair looking smooth, shiny, and healthy.  The cold water will flatten follicles and increase their ability to grip the scalp.

3. Boost your immunity-  A cold shower is a remedy for problems of the skin and heart.  The cold water will improve circulation and help the arteries pump blood, which helps our heart health.  There are other reported health benefits, like lowering blood pressure, clearing up clogged arteries, and improving the immune system.

4.  Lose some weight- Cold showers burn fat, the bad kind.  There are two types of fat: white fat and brown fat. White fat is what I’m referring to as the “bad kind.”  It’s fat that so many of carry around on our waist, thighs, neck, and lower back and that’s usually a struggle to lose.  We accumulate white fat when we consume unnecessary calories that our bodies don’t need to function and don’t burn enough of these calories off for energy.  Brown fat is the “good fat” and generates heat to keep us warm.  When taking a cold shower, the brown fat will burn calories to keep us warm.  According to Scandinavian research, exposing our bodies to cold temperatures increases our metabolic rate of brown fat by fifteen fold, thus aiding us with weight loss.Image result for benefits of cold showers

5.  Boost your post-workout recovery time- Perhaps you’ve seen athletes taking ice water baths before.  It looks god awful, but there’s a reason these athletes are enduring the cold water.  There’s no need to be as extreme as to take an ice water bath, but the cold water will reduce soreness after a workout.

6.  Get happy-  Cold showers create an anti-depression effect when the impact of the cold receptors of the skin send electrical impulses from the nerve endings to the brain. The cold water not only improved mood, but also helps us relax and hardens us to stress.

Sources: Medical Daily, Life Hack