Easy Slow Cooker Lentils

My friend Dina told me about a super easy slow cooker lentils recipe. It was really yummy and beyond easy! There is something so nice about placing everything in a slow cooker and hours later having a hot cooked and deelish meal waiting for you! Perfect for weeknight dinners 🙂

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Easy Slow Cooker Lentils

2 cups brown lentils
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (I keep mine peeled and frozen so it is super easy to grate )
1 tsp each garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, cumin
Salt to taste

Mix all of the above in the slow cooker and put in enough water to cover by an inch plus. Cook on high for 2-3 hrs or low for 3-4 hrs. (add more water if needed) I served it with yogurt and chopped cucumber. Deelish!

Iron for Vegans & Kale and Lentil Soup!

We all know that Iron is super important in our diets. Iron transports oxygen to the blood, regulates the metabolism, provides energy and stamina, and supports other important functions. Besides hearing “how do you get your protein?” vegans and vegetarians also hear a lot of “where does your iron come from?” I thought this was important topic to cover especially now as I am not only cooking for my husband and me but also my two kiddos 🙂

“Some might expect that since the vegan diet contains a form of iron that is not that well absorbed (non-heme), vegans might be prone to developing iron deficiency anemia. However, surveys of vegans have found that iron deficiency anemia is no more common among vegetarians than among the general population although vegans tend to have lower iron stores.

The reason for the satisfactory iron status of many vegans may be that commonly eaten foods are high in iron. In fact, if the amount of iron in these foods is expressed as milligrams of iron per 100 calories, many foods eaten by vegans are superior to animal-derived foods. For example, you would have to eat more than 1700 calories of sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron as found in 100 calories of spinach.

Another reason for the satisfactory iron status of vegans is that vegan diets are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C acts to markedly increase absorption of non-heme iron. Adding a vitamin C source to a meal increases non-heme iron absorption up to six-fold which makes the absorption of non-heme iron as good or better than that of heme iron” (http://www.vrg.org)

We can eat iron rich foods with vitamin C foods which can increase absorption, ex. rice & beans, hummus & lemon juice, falafel with tomatoes and cucumber, and beans, grains and seeds combined with fruits and veggies. There are also plenty of natural combinations;  leafy greens, broccoli, bok choy and tomato sauce have both iron & vitamin C!

Here is a list of great non-animal sources of Iron.

  • black beans, kidney beans, chick peas, pinto beans, lentils, soy beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas
  • blackstrap molasses
  • tempeh
  • quinoa
  • spinach, turnip greens, swiss chard, kale
  • tofu
  • watermelon, cantaloupe
  • enriched pasta and breads
  • green beans, beets, broccoli, bok choy, brussels sprouts, peas
  • whole grains; millet, bulgur, oatmeal
  • prunes, raisins, apricots
  • peanut butter, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, other seeds and nuts
  • potatoes that contain the skin
  • tahini
  • veggie burgers & hot dogs

Also:

Don’t drink coffee or tea or eat calcium supplements with iron rich meals.

Cook with a cast iron skillet, especially Vitamin C heavy foods!

Once you get into the swing of eating a balanced vegan or vegetarian diet, iron is not really a concern at all:)

Here is an iron-rich delicious meal!

 Kale & Lentil Soup

Thankfully my kiddos LOVE lentils as much as we do. It has been SUUUPER chilly this winter so that makes me think soup to warm us all up. I made a super tasty soup and added kale which not only increased the iron & nutritious content but also gave such a great bite & texture to the soup. I used a crock-pot, which I have always loved, but really understand now that it can be a busy mama’s best friend!! Since then we have also revisited the Crock-Pot Oatmeal. Just as good as we remembered!

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  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 2-3 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups lentils, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 14 ½ ounce can of diced tomatoes

Super simple 🙂 Put all of the above ingredients in the slow cooker. Set it on low 8 hours or high 4 hours, if you need it cooked quicker.

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When done I like to use my immersion blender and blend it up about half way, this way there is still some good pieces but the soup gets thicker.

Next add and let cook for just 10-15 minutes longer.
3-4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3-4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped

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Serve and enjoy! Even better the next day!

Kitchari Challenge – Recipe #3

Many recipes have the option to add chopped veggies to the Kitchari and I’m sure it would be super tasty. But I am a Kitchari purist. Maybe sometime during this challenge I might try some of the chopped veggies, but I am not there yet. This one was simple, easy and deelish.

Cleansing Kitchari
Recipe adapted from Ayurveda for Women: A Guide to Vitality and Health

2 cups basmati rice
1 cup yellow split peas
12 cups boiling water
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 big pinch asafoetida
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon of salt

optional, chopped veggies

  1. Combine the rice with the split peas and wash twice.
  2.  Place rice and beans into boiling water, adding the turmeric and asafoetida.
  3. Cook over medium heat until the water is mostly absorbed.
  4. I usually use an immersion blender to have a semi-smooth consistency. I only blend about half.
  5. Add one more cup of lukewarm water, vegetables, and optional spices if you’re using them. The final dish should be a stew with a very moist and soft consistency.

Love seeing this big pot of Kitchari!

Kitchari Challenge – Recipe #2

This is a mung dal kitchari which balances all three doshas. It is particularly beneficial for the stomach, lungs, liver, and large intestine.

This Kitchari was completely different from the first one I made Kitchari Challenge – Recipe #1 and we loved it. We loved the first one too but it was nice to have a different one.It was perfect I made such big batches as we were happy to eat them all week-long. YUM! (and that I am still happy to make others too :))

Do you have a Kitchari Recipe that you love? Please let me know, I want to try more!

Kitchari Challenge – Recipe #2
adapted from ‘Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing’
Serves 8-10
2 cup yellow mung dal (split or whole)
2 cup basmati rice
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine
5 tablespoons shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 cup water
5 tablespoons canola oil
2 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon bark
5 whole cloves
8 crushed cardamom pods
15 black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
12 cups water

  1. Wash the mung dal and rice until water is clear. Soaking the dal for a few hours or overnight helps with digestibility.
  2. In a blender, put the ginger, coconut and 1/2 cup water and blend.
  3. Heat a large saucepan on medium heat and add the oil, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns and bay leaves. Stir for a moment until fragrant. Add the blended items to the spices, then the turmeric and salt. Stir until lightly browned.
  4. Stir in the mung dal and rice and mix very well.
  5. Pour in the 12 cups of water, cover and bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes, then turn down the heat to very low and cook, lightly covered, until the dal and rice are soft, about 30-35 minutes if mung beans are split, and 1 hour if whole. Add water if needed.
  6. Unless you love a spicy bite – be aware of the peppercorns, bay leafs, cloves and cardamom – pick them out :

Spices

Before adding the water

Kitchari Challenge – Recipe #1

I love Kitchari!! Kitchari is typically considered a fasting food and is used to purify digestion and cleanse systemic toxins but is also an amazing meal on its own account. I eat it at least once a week at the amazing Jivamukti (Jivamuktea) Cafe. When Michael and I were in India I expected to eat it all the time, but strangely we never had it, not once! So upon returning home I wanted to take on my very own Kitchari Challenge 🙂 I am going to play around with different takes of this amazing mixture of Dal and Rice. Some recipes have many spices in them and some call for just a dash of salt. This is where my challenge comes in, I want to try many of them out. I will post them as I make them. Enjoy!

I made a super big double batch of this first recipe and Michael and I were thrilled to have it in the house for over a week! It was super enjoyable and very nourishing.

Kitchari Recipe
Recipe adapted from The Ayurvedic Institute

1 cup     Basmati Rice
2 cups     Mung Dal (split yellow)
7 cups (approx.) Water
a bit of     Salt
2 Tbs.     neutral oil (like canola)
3 tsp.     Mustard Seeds
2 tsp.     Cumin Seeds or Powder
2 tsp.     Turmeric Powder
2 tsp.     Coriander Powder
2 tsp.     Fennel Powder
1 pinch     Asafoetida (Hing)(I was very excited to bring this back from India – although you can easily get it at your local Indian store)

I did not adapt my recipe for the specific doshas – but below is what The Ayurvedic Institute suggests to do.
* For Vata or Kapha conditions:
add a pinch of ginger powder
* For Pitta: leave out the mustard seeds

  1. Carefully pick over rice and dal to remove any stones. Wash each separately in at least 2 changes of water.
  2. Sauté the seeds in the oil until they pop. Then add the other spices. Add the mung dal and salt. Sauté for 1 or 2 minutes. Add boiling water, bring to boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until the dal is about 2/3 cooked.
  3. Add rice and stir to mix, adding extra water if required. Bring back to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is fully cooked. Aim to have minimal water remaining, leaving the lid on the pot to allow any excess to slowly be absorbed.
  4. Stir until the rice and dal begin to mush together and Enjoy!

Coconut Lentil Soup

My friend Lisa Dawn is an amazing Yogi, Wife, Mother and Cook! We were talking recently about simple, nutritious, delicious and fast vegan meals and she served me such an amazing soup that I had to replicate it at home! Sometimes I forget how simple meals can be so amazing delicious, fun and taste so complex! Thank you Lisa for Inspiring me and Reminding me of this! I had so much fun in the kitchen dancing, stirring, singing – I have been so busy lately and have been neglecting cooking; it was good to find my way back 🙂

p.s. this soup/stew is AMAZING!!! Michael and I were so excited to have such a big batch to eat all week at home.

Soup while using the immersion blender

Soup after immersion

Coconut Lentil Soup
inspired by Lisa Dawn

  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (canola)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 2 cans coconut milk (I used 1 light and 1 regular)
  • 4 cups of water (+1-2 cups once the pasta is added)
  • 8 ounces of little pasta (I used Conchigliette)
  • Salt and White Pepper to taste (black pepper is fine, I just wanted to stay with the colors)
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot and saute the onions for about 5 minutes. Add the carrots and lentils and continuous stirring for 1 minute more. 
  2. Add coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Reduce hear and simmer till lentils are cooked.
  3. Using an immersion blender or by pouring into a blender – puree the soup.
  4. Add the pasta into the soup and the additional 1-2 cups of water. Enjoy!

note: It came out super thick for me, but we enjoyed it that way. If you want more of a soup consistency add more water.


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