smushed up lentils.

It doesn’t matter what you do.

It doesn’t matter if you’re granted the beauty of natural lighting or if you’re stuck with nothing but orange infused incandescent.

It doesn’t matter.

Smashed up lentils will never look pretty.

HOWEVER!!!

Smashed up lentils can (and should!) taste delicious.

Especially when they’re mixed with Indian spices, caramelized onions and crunchy walnuts (yes, you heard me right!)

I’m obsessed with these tasty burgers.

I love how quick they are to throw together.

And they freeze really nice too, which means you can have lunch or dinner within seconds for those times when time is not an option.

(Warning: some carnivorous cats may try to eat them, unaware that tonight’s dinner is completely vegan…sorry, Humphrey!)

 Indian Spiced Lentil Walnut Burgers

This recipe was adapted from Mollie Katzen’s lentil burgers in her Moosewood Cookbook.  I like making them with the addition of some common Indian spices, which are tasty as well as beneficial.  Spices such as turmeric are known for their antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

For leftovers, freeze each patty individually and take out when you want a quick ‘n’ easy meal.  Enjoy!

  • 3/4 cup dry lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced very thin
  • 1/2 cup very finely minced walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup crushed flax seed
  • optional: serve with avocado, sweet vidalia onion slices, spicy salsa, and/or sliced tomatoes
  1. Place lentils and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the liquid is mostly gone.  Drain any remaining liquid.  Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add vinegar.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet. Add onion and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except the flax seed, and sauté 5 to 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. Add the sautéed mixture and flax seed to the lentils and mix well. Chill for about 1 hour before forming patties.
  3. Form 4-inch diameter patties by grabbing a handful and gently forming into a round ball; smush lightly into a patty (patty will be fragile.)  Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet or spray with cooking spray, and sauté the patties on both sides until heated through and crispy. You can also just broil them for about 5 to 8 minutes on each side.  Enjoy!
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lunch break.

You know what I love about lunch?

It gives me the chance to break away from the day’s routine.  No matter how dull, unorganized, crazy busy, boring, exciting, routine, ________ (fill in the blank) the day is, lunch is that pivotal point that can instantly turn the day around.

It takes just one hunk of dark chocolate.  Or a yogurt parfait.  Or a hunk of your favorite bread.

And there you go.  You’ve just turned the day around.

Just like a day old bologna sandwich with half melted cheese can ruin a perfectly fine day…

…a bowl of vegetable soup, a hunk of whole grain bread smeared in avocado, and freshly cracked black pepper (here, there, everywhere) can instantly put a smile on your face.

(FYI, I still have nightmares of that bologna sandwich from long ago…true story.)

I like to make lunch all about the vegetables.

So that at the end of the day, if there’s a sudden shift in plans (to the pizza barn we go!) or I randomly don’t feel like cooking (cold cereal!), I already have a nice big bundle of fiber-rich vegetables under my belt.  Already consumed.  Fueling me through the afternoon.  Filling me up with all kinds of nutrients.

It just feels good.

Sometimes (most times) that means a really large salad.  Never made the same way twice because there are so many options to be had!

Some days, this means a nice big bowl of leftover vegetable soup.

Or an open faced sandwich with hummus and plenty of shredded veggies on top.

Really.  However you look at it.  Lunch has the full potential to completely turn your day around.

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Garden Minestrone Soup–slightly modified from the original version seen previously on The Flying Onion.

(serves 8)

Serve hot in the winter and chilled in the summer!

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups chopped yellow squash
  • 3 cups chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen)
  • 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil, oregano, garlic (or plain)
  • 3 (14 oz) cans vegetable broth
  • 2 (15.5 oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (12oz) package frozen spinach
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onion to pan; saute 3 minutes or until softened.  Add oregano and garlic, saute 1 minute.  Stir in squash, zucchini, carrot and corn; saute 5 minutes or until veggies are tender.
  2. Stir in tomatoes and broth; bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
  3. Add beans and spinach to pan.  Season with pepper and salt to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

 QUESTION: What are your favorite lunches for work/school or when you’re at home?

lentil edamame stew.

This is Part 30 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

If there was one food group that I wish I could sneak onto every single American’s dinner plate, it would be, quite simply, the legume.

Yes.  The legume.

(And not just because I love rolling the word “legume” off the tip of my tongue with an over-the-top, horrendous French accent, either.)

Any legume will do, really.

Black beans.  Split peas.  Kidney beans.  The lovely garbanzo.

Legumes are chock full of fiber, protein, iron and the really good-for-you complex carbohydrates.

Yep.  Legumes are worth getting to know.  They’ve got lots to offer.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My favorite legume happens to be the lentil.

They don’t require the soaking time of most beans.  They’re ready in under 20 minutes.  They’re $0.99 a pound.  What’s not to love about that?

Tonight I made a nice ‘n’ spicy lentil edamame stew.

 

Well.

Spicy from my standpoint, anyways.  I’m the girl who could do without the taste of chili powder or tabasco sauce on my tongue.

(Of course, if you like to live on the spicy side of life, go all out with a heavy hand of crushed red pepper!)

Oh.
And if you’re still on the fence about eating a big bowl of lentils for dinner, serve this as a side dish with your main meal or eat a smaller sized bowl as an afternoon snack.
Incorporating more legumes on a daily/weekly basis is a smart move for each and every one of us.

From a health, economic and taste standpoint, legumes are really and truly a wonderful thing.

After finding your favorites, I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before they become a regular in your house.  Right next to those other pantry essentials.

Enjoy!

Lentil Edamame Stew–as seen in Cooking Light Magazine
(Serves 4-6 as a main)

  • 2 cup dried lentils
  • 1-1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups minced red onion
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground cloves
  1. Place lentils in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain well, and set aside.
  2. Place edamame in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until edamame are tender. Remove from heat; drain well.
  3. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and tomatoes to pan; sauté 6-10 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring often. Stir in lentils, edamame, juice, and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often.
QUESTION: What is one of your favorite (affordable!!) healthy foods that you consume on a regular basis?  Lentils and oatmeal are two of my favorite cheap-o health foods!  They’re very versatile in the kitchen.

Baked Banana-Blueberry Oatmeal.

This is Part 29 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

Sunday mornings are made for long morning walks before going to church.  Hot cups of steamy coffee with soy.  Family lunches.  The newspaper’s crossword puzzles.

And, of course, breakfast.

Normally, I eat within 10 minutes of getting up, before grabbing my cup of coffee and hopping on the computer for work-related things.

Not on Sunday, though.  No sirree.

On Sunday, I like to slow things down a little.  I pull out the pots and pans and I allow myself the luxury of making an absolute mess.  

Oatmeal is every day food around here.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing to brag about.

Baked oatmeal, however, is an entirely different entity.

The bananas fluff up like little bits of toasted marshmallow.  The walnuts get extra crispy and the blueberries pop.  Perhaps the best part is the texture of the oatmeal itself.  All gooey and smooth and custardy like.

I’m not one to wait 30 minutes before eating breakfast.

But.

Sometimes it’s worth it.

Besides…

…that’s what Sunday mornings are for.

Baked Banana-Blueberry Oatmeal
(Serves 4) 

I found the idea for this baked oatmeal on the back of a Stop & Shop grocery store flyer, but I tweaked it to make it just a tad bit healthier.

Regular, old fashioned oatmeal is one of the best breakfasts you could possibly eat.  You can easily start your day with a good dose of whole grains and fiber, and it’s the perfect opportunity to add in a splash of some of the other healthy ingredients too (like flax and walnuts.)  Oatmeal has been popularized for its cholesterol lowering benefits (thanks to the fiber content) and it can taste absolutely delicious too!  Let your imagination run wild with varying fruit, nut and spice combinations.

Oh.  And trust me.  This breakfast is worth the wait.  Enjoy!

  • 2 cups uncooked old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. crushed flaxseed (optional)
  • 2 cups low fat milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (do not dethaw)
  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mix together oats, half of the walnuts, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon (and flax, if using.)
  2. In another bowl, whisk together milk, egg, and vanilla; add to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Fold in the blueberries.
  3. Spray the bottom of an 8-inch pan and add sliced bananas.  Pour batter over bananas and top with the remaining walnuts.  Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes until top is golden and the oatmeal is set.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: When you have the time, what is one of your most favorite “special breakfasts”?

tofu kale lasagna.

This is Part 27 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

I hope you’re not a lasagna purist.

I hope this doesn’t look too much like cheating.

(insert embarrassed face here –> ______)

I hope you don’t mind the thought of tofu in lasagna.

Or kale, for that matter.

I hope you’re not a lasagna purist.

Because we all went back for seconds.

And I bet you will you too.

Tofu Kale Lasagna–modified from the Clean Eating Cookbook
(Serves 8) 

Shhh…don’t tell anyone the secret ingredient!!

Eating soy in its most basic forms of soy beans, tofu, tempeh, edamame, etc. can be a very healthy addition to your diet.  It has as much complete protein as meat and is a good source of those healthy omega-3′ fats  that our bodies need.  In addition, soy may help lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension and it may also help to reduce cholesterol.

I modified this recipe from the original by using whole wheat noodles, decreasing the amount of oil, and subbing in silken tofu for the firm tofu and rice wine vinegar for the mirin.  Feel free to make your own changes based on what you have on hand!  Enjoy!

  • 5-7 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles (such as Hodgson Mills)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 8-oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 pounds silken tofu
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 bunches kale, finely chopped
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste
  • 5 cups tomato sauce
  • 1-3/4 cups reduced fat mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375.  In a small bowl, soak sun-dried tomatoes in enough hot water to cover.  When soft, drain, chop and set aside.  Cook lasagna noodles until just soft.  Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large pot over medium heat, saute garlic and onions until soft.  Add mushrooms; saute 3 minutes.  Add tofu, rice wine vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and parsley; saute 5 minutes.  Fold in kale, cover, and cook 3 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce over bottom of 9×12 inch lasagna pan.  Place single layer of noodles over sauce and cover with half the kale mixture.  Cover with 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese.  Cover with another layer of noodles and remaining kale and tofu.  Add 1-1/2 cups sauce, 1/2 cup cheese and final layer of noodles, 1/2 cup sauce and remaining cheese.  Cover tightly with foil and bake 35 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes before serving.

QUESTION: Do you eat soy-based products?  What are some of your favorites?

happy soup day.

This is Part 25 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

Wednesday may as well be the “official soup day” of the week.

I shop for groceries on a weekly basis.  Every Thursday.

So by the time Wednesday rolls around, the fridge is looking a little haphazard.  Like it’s faced some sort of major demolition project, with no hopes of recovering any time soon.

As luck would have it, there are usually still some vegetables that have gone untouched (or, at least, partially so.)

That’s why Wednesday is soup day.

Because I have lots of vegetables that need to be used.

Because I hate throwing things away.

Because simmering vegetables in big pots of steamy broth makes me happy like nothing else can.

Happy Soup Day!

The Easiest Vegetable Soup

This recipe isn’t really a recipe.  It’s more of a guideline.

Use whatever veggies you have on hand and follow this cooking method.  As long as you have a tasty vegetable stock and a variety of vegetables (the root veggies are especially nice!) you can’t go wrong.  Keep in mind that if you use a different green than spinach like kale or chard, you’ll need to prolong the cooking time just a bit.

Happy simmering!

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Combination of various vegetables, chopped (i.e., rutabaga, daikon, sweet potato, celery, carrot, parsnip, zucchini, etc.)
  • 5-8 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • baby spinach
  • various canned beans, drained and rinsed (i.e., pinto, garbanzo, kidney, etc.)
  1. In a large pot, sautee onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add all of the chopped vegetables and enough broth to cover them with.  Dilute with a little water if you’d like.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add in several large handfuls of chopped spinach and beans.  Continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes or until spinach is wilted and soup is heated thorough.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: How often do you make trips to the grocery store?  I have one BIG weekly trip, and little things like fruit or eggs or milk require a couple more stops.

Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry.

This is Part 23 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

I don’t know about you, but I get a little nauseous whenever I think of diet books.

But when a family friend recently told me about this increasingly popular book “Eat To Live” (and then let me borrow it,) I decided to read it with an open (albeit critical) mind.

My thoughts…

First, I really like the principles behind Fuhrman’s diet plan.  It’s closely tied to Michael Pollan’s idea of eating lots (and I do mean LOTS and LOTS) of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of worrying about the nitty gritty details of portion sizes, calorie counting or what have you.

Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables.  That’s the book in a nutshell.

Along with fruit, they’re the main part of the diet plan, with the scientific backup of having the power to decrease cancer risks, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.  When nutrient dense foods increase, our health and mood improve, and it leaves less room for other junky stuff.

The principles make sense and they are strongly backed up by science, which is important for any reliable diet plan.

That being said, I don’t think the book would be a good choice for obsessive or restrictive type personalities.  Nor do I think the diet plan is necessarily realistic for everyone.  And while I liked the points that he made throughout the book, I don’t like the idea of following a diet plan, per say.  It just takes the fun out of food!  

But the points he makes are good ones, and I think most of us could benefit from the guidelines that he so strongly encourages.

And.  Well.  I wasn’t planning on having tonight’s dinner meet so many of the “Fuhrman” standards, but it just so happened that it did.

Pineapple.

Cashews.

Red bell peppers.

“Diet plan” or not, there’s nothing nauseous about that. 😉

Pineapple Cashew Quinoa Stir Fry—slightly modified from the original Veganomicon recipe

Don’t let the length of this recipe scare you!  The quinoa can be made ahead of time and there really isn’t much chopping work involved.

I like to serve this with a dish of sauteed greens on the side, like swiss chard with grated carrots and raisins.   It makes for a very satisfying dinner or lunch the following day.  Enjoy! 😀

Quinoa:
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

Stir-fry:
4 ounces cashews, raw and unsalted
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 scallions, sliced thinly
1 hot red chile, sliced into very thin rounds
1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup frozen, cooked edamame (or peas)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced in thin shreds
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
10 ounces fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized chunks
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable stock

PREPARE THE QUINOA FIRST:

  1. Combine the quinoa, juice, water, and soy sauce in a medium-sized pot.
  2. Cover, place over high heat,and bring to a boil.
  3. Stir a few times, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa appears plumped and slightly translucent.
  4. Uncover, fluff, and let cool.
  5. For best results,place the quinoa in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.  If you’re in a hurry, chill the covered quinoa for at least an hour.

PREPARE THE STIR-FRY

  1. Use the largest nonstick skillet you have (at least 11 inches in diameter) or a wok.  Have ALL of your ingredients chopped and easily within reach.
  2. Place the cashews in the dry pan and heat over low heat, stirring them, until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the cashews from the pan, raise the heat to medium, and add the peanut oil, scallions, and garlic.  When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the sliced chile pepper and ginger.  Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, then add the red bell pepper and edamame.  Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until the bell pepper is softened and edamame is bright green.
  4. Add the basil and mint, and stir for another minute before adding the pineapple and quinoa.
  5. In a measuring cup, combine the soy sauce and vegetable stock.  Pour over the quinoa mixture.  Stir to incorporate completely and coat the quinoa.  Continue to stir-fry for 10 to 14 minutes, until the quinoa is very hot (it helps to use two spoons/ spatulas to scoop the quinoa around).

QUESTION: Have you read Eat To Live (or another popular “diet” book)?  Thoughts?