Monthly Archives: October 2011

Lentil Love

Today
is the last day of the month and technically the final day of October
Unprocessed.  I’ll be continuing with the same basic rules, however. 
The holidays are coming and I’m aware that there is refined sugar in our
future, I’m not a fool, but I don’t want to let everything fall by the
wayside again.  I’m still shooting for at least 1 vegetarian dish a week
on our table and I’m continuing with the whole grains.  Liam and Matt
are adapting well and I’m finding that I have really missed my old ways.
This recipe is very loosely based on the recipe for Mojadra in Feeding the Whole Family
I used the basic format, but added in my own seasonings.  I loved it! 
And Liam, well, he ate some of the lentils by mistake because he was
digging out the rice, but he still ate!
Mojadra
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup lentils
  • water
  • 2 Tbsp. ghee
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. tumeric
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. dried cilantro
  • 1 cup. coconut milk
  • salt
Place
the lentils in a bowl and cover with water.  Soak over night.  Drain
and rinse the lentils, checking for rocks.  Put the lentils in a medium
pan and cover with water up to about 1 inch over the lentils.  Add in
1/2 tsp. salt.  Bring the lentils to a boil and boil for 1 minute. 
Lower the heat and cook for roughly half an hour, or until the lentils
are tender.  Cook the rice by adding 2 cups and 2 Tbsp water, 1 Tbsp
ghee and a dash of salt to a pan.  Bring the water up to a boil and when
it’s reached a boil, turn it down to low heat.  Cock the lid on the pan
to allow the steam to escape (so the rice doesn’t boil over) and then
cook until the water is all gone and the rice is tender, about half an
hour.
In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic in the ghee until
tender and fragrant.  Add in the spices and saute.  Stream in the milk
and stir until well blended.  Add the lentils and heat through.  Serve
over the rice. 

Pocket sized triumphs

There are days when I realize that the reason why I haven’t done something is simply because I was too unmotivated to get started.  Case in point: pitas.  For years, I’ve read blog posts about how simple it is to make your own and I just haven’t gotten around to it.  However, since doing the October Unprocessed and behaving myself so well, it just seemed silly to buy pitas for our falafels.  The most challenging thing about this recipe is that I was a nervous wreck about how hot the oven was with Liam running around.  I did have to employ the hubs to keep an eye on the kids while I was making the pitas, but it worked out.  And I made the pitas while the falafels were frying so everything was done about the same time!  Most amazing part of making pitas at home?  Getting to watch the pitas puff up as they cooked!  I did a dance during most of the cooking, I was so excited!
Unprocessed Pitas
  • 3 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/4 c. warm water
* I used my kitchenaid mixer to make this recipe, but you can do all the kneading by hand if you choose.*
Put the yeast and warm water in the bowl of your mixer and allow to bloom by leaving it alone for 2-5 minutes.  Then, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix with the paddle attachment.  Once the dough is mixed, stop the mixer and switch to the dough hook.  Put the mixer on the 3rd speed and lock the mixer so it doesn’t move.  Then, set your timer for 10 minutes and let the mixer knead the dough.  At the end of the 10 minutes, the dough should be soft and smooth.  Remove the dough hook and place the dough in a warm spot covered with a damp towel.  
Allow the dough to rise for at least an hour and after that if you are not using it right away, put it in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Keep it covered and check every hour for the first 4 to make sure it doesn’t continue to rise.  When you are ready to make your pitas, preheat your oven to 475 degrees and place a baking stone or a cast iron skillet in it so that as the oven heats up, so does the stone.  (I used my pizza stone for the pitas.  It’s been used for a number of meals, so it’s well seasoned.)  Divide the dough into 12 balls and cover them with a damp towel while you are working on the pitas.  Take each ball and roll it out until it’s at most 1/4 inch thick.  Keeping the dough moist is what helps them puff up in the oven while they cook.  


I can fit 3 rounds on my stone at a time.  Quickly open the oven and put the pitas on the stone (or skillet) and close the door.  It is helpful to turn on your oven light if you have one so you don’t have to keep opening the door to check the pitas.  Cook for about 3 minutes, or until they have puffed up delightfully.  When the pitas are done, remove them from the oven the keep them covered with a towel as you work on the others.  Cut the pitas in half to use as sandwiches or into wedges to serve as dippers!

The first meatless Monday in our home!

And the toddler ate well!
When I first met Matt, I was still largely a vegetarian.  I enjoyed my vegetables and had a faint hope that I’d find someone with the same tastes to share my life.  This was not the case.  While Matt politely ate my parent’s meals whenever we were together, he informed me that he never wanted to see sprouts or tofu in our home.  So then, I actually had to learn how to cook food beyond steaming broccoli and brown rice.  Anyway, this Thanksgiving marks 7 years of love and many, many extra pounds.  There are days when I wish I could have my vegetarian body back… but then, I’d also be 22 years old so… 
 Anyway, I’ve been craving good, homemade falafel for a long time, but it’s a lot of work (I thought) and I didn’t have a recipe that was reliable.  A few weeks ago though, I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook page about how she had made falafel and I decided that despite Matt’s aversion to meatless foods, I’d make it.  I used the base recipe from Feeding the Whole Family and then did what I remembered from when I had made it at home.  The only complaint that I had about this recipe is that it didn’t make enough for me to have leftovers.  Matt ate and enjoyed it and Liam even ate it pretty well.  The chickpeas were sweet and there was just the right amount of seasoning.  I made pitas to go with this and I’ll be sharing the recipe tomorrow!
Falafel:
  • 3/4 cup dry chickpeas
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. dried cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup. whole wheat flour
In a medium sized pan, place the dry beans and cover with water.  Soak them 10-12 hours.  Drain the chickpeas and cover with water up to 1 inch over the top of the bean.  Sprinkle in about 1 tsp salt.  Bring the water to a boil and boil for 1 minute.  Then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the beans to cook until they are fork tender, 30-45 minutes.  When the beans are done, drain and rinse them.  Set them aside to cool.

Place the onion and garlic in a food processor and chop.  You can leave them in a rough chop or almost puree them.  I chose to almost puree mine so that the texture would be smooth.  Then, add in the beans and puree.  You may need to stream in some water so that the puree doesn’t become too thick and you can blend it easily.  (Once the texture is what you want, add in the spices and flour.  The original recipe does not call for flour, but I recall my parents using cooked millet in their recipe to give it some body and help it stick together.  I was very pleased with the texture of the falafels.)

In a large skillet, heat a few Tablespoons of oil so that when you sprinkle a bit of flour in, it sizzles.  Drop your falafel mixture into the oil in the shapes you’d like.  My father used to form his into rounds or patties.  I just scooped a full spoon’s worth and flattened it out once it was in the pan.  Cook until golden brown on each side.  Serve in pita with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, hummus and plain yogurt.  I like to put a thin schmere of mayo on one side of the pita and then load it up with hummus and veggies.  Yum. 

I’m posting this recipe as part of Sweet Peas and Pumpkin’s Meatless Monday Challenge!

Roasted

See that beautiful baby in the photo?  She’s sweet and precious and someone I fight to protect every moment of my day.  I started doing the October Unprocessed because I was already on a weight loss challenge and I figured it would be good for me.  As the weeks have passed, I’m realizing it was the jump start we needed to get ourselves back on track to healthy eating.  And the motivation I needed to start trying a little harder to make sure those whole foods come back and stay back.
I love that when I open my refrigerator, it’s full of glass jars with things I made myself.  Ghee, salad dressing, jams and now roasted red peppers!  I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but just never got around to it.  However when I was stocking up on pie pumpkins, I found a good deal on local red peppers.  I bought a few with the intention of roasting them and then making my own hummus again.  It took me a few weeks (I know, you’d think I was busy or something…), but once I did it, I was thrilled with the results!  

I don’t have a gas stove so my options are either to roast them on the grill or in the oven.  The weather has been less than pleasant so I opted to do them in my oven.  It took a while since I was timid with the heat, but the result was wonderful!  I set the temperature at 425 and then cut up the peppers.  The peppers that blistered the most were the ones that were the flattest, so I know for next time that you have to cut them with purpose so that they will set on the baking sheet skin up without wobbling.  I lined the baking sheet with tin foil and filled it with peppers.  Into the oven they went and I turned on the light so I could watch them while I worked in the kitchen.  In about 25 minutes, I could see the skins blistering up and forming a bubble.  I took them out of the oven at half an hour and then quickly wrapped them up in the foil so they could steam.  Once the peppers were cool enough to handle, but still warm, I peeled the skin off with my fingers.  I used a few to make hummus and the rest, I put in a jar with some minced garlic and equal parts olive oil and water.  I’m very excited to use my peppers in future recipes and I’m so excited that I made them myself for a fraction of the usual cost!