by amvandenhurk | Plant-Based Eating, Vegan
Mushroom Lentil Stew Over Mashed Potatoes
This mushroom lentil stew will have your meat lovers thinking they are eating a hearty meaty meal. It is a perfect dinner on a wintery night. While it is hearty and meaty, the meaty part is the combination of lentils and mushrooms. No meat involved.
My life right now is about keeping it simple and quick. This recipe fills the bill. It can be made in 30 or so minutes. Mushrooms are a quick pick up from the grocery. I always have little yellow potatoes in the pantry. They are easy to half and I don’t have to peel. The rest of the ingredients should be in the pantry.
Mushroom lentil stew over mashed potatoes is vegetarian. I’m sure it can be made vegan with some adjustments. For right now I’m happy using soy sauce, butter, and milk in small quantities. I make my own mashed potatoes which is just boiling halved baby yellow potatoes in salt water for 25 mins, draining, adding salt/pepper, butter, milk, then mashing. Or you can buy ready made potatoes. Up to you.
This meal is stick to your ribs comfort food. It is now in our regular rotation and wanted by my guys. Need more plant-based recipes, then go here.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped shallot
- 2 cups sliced baby Bella, cremini or button mushrooms
- 1-2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- Pinch Kosher salt
- Generous turn of the pepper grinder
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2/3 cup dry green lentils, rinsed and drained
- 2-3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- Add oil to a large pan over medium heat
- Sauté shallot until soft, stirring occasionally
- Add mushrooms and soy sauce increasing heat to medium-high
- Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a pinch of salt and pepper
- Add thyme, lentils, and 2 cups vegetable broth.
- Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat then reduce heat to a simmer and cook on low for about 20 minutes, adding more broth as needed if the mixture looks dry.
- Make Mashed Potatoes
- Add potatoes to a large pot and cover with water so they are just submerged
- Bring to a boil on high heat and cook for 25 minutes
- Drain potatoes then add back to pot
- Season with salt, pepper, butter, and milk mashing until tender and fluffy.
by amvandenhurk | Curry, Indian, Plant-Based Eating, Vegan, Vegetarian Slow Cooker
The slow cooker has saved the day many times over the past three months. Slow Cooker Chickpea Butternut Squash Curry has been to the rescue a couple times one. I kept buying butternut squash saying I’m going to make x or y, but then it just sits there in the fridge with the great potential to end up in the compost bin. It is a simple and quick recipe to throw in the slow cooker then forget about it until you need to make the rice or heat the naan.
Now back to my slow cooker saving the day. This year has flown by and I have been on it by the seat of my pants. Between managing a busy family, working at the lighthouse foundation, servicing my public relations clients, attending graduate school, and launching a new business, let’s just say cooking hasn’t been top of my action list. We are attempting to eat well while adding plant-based meals without resorting to pizza or Chinese delivery. And we have done that more than we would like to admit since September. The slow cooker provided us with hot wholesome meals after long days.
This recipe is made with simple ingredients, but packs a lot of flavor. It isn’t spicy nor sweet. Just a nice balance of flavors. Add rice or naan to round it out. I buy the pre-cut butternut squash. I have no patience to peel then cut one up so I do the pre-cut.
If you are looking to add more plant-based meals to your diet then this is a good one to start with since it is so flavorful.
Slow Cooker Chickpea Butternut Squash Curry
- 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
- 2 T curry powder
- 1 T minced garlic
- 2T grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 14.5 oz can chickpeas, drained
- 1 small butternut squash (about 2.5-3 lb), peeled and diced or sweet potato
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Combine all ingredients except for cilantro in the slow cooker
- Cover and set to LOW
- Cook 8 hours
- Add chopped fresh cilantro
- Serve over rice
by amvandenhurk | Salad, Vegetarian
Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil Feta Salad
For the past two weeks, it has been hot here in Newport. Our house doesn’t have air conditioning – units or central – it can get pretty toasty. Not a pleasurable environment to cook anything, but we still have to eat. This is a super simple tasty summer meal. Or nice side to chicken or fish.
I have a Phillips Air Flyer. It makes french fries, baked potatoes, chicken, and donuts. Today, I decided to see if I could roast veg in it. I didn’t want to turn the oven onto 400 and roast for 30-40 minutes. The kitchen was already 86 degrees so adding to the heat doesn’t seem ideal. I chopped up peeled sweet potatoes, carrots, and red onion then combined them with some oil olive and a pinch of chili flakes. Preheat the Air Fryer at 360 or 375 depending on your Air Flyer running it for 10 minutes. Add the veg into the basket. Cook for 10min, shake, then another 5-10min. An air flyer is a worthy investment. Fried foods without the fat and mess.
Let’s talk about lentils. My pantry is stocked with a few different types of lentils such as brown, yellow, and French. This recipe calls for French lentils which can be hard to find. Some grocery stores s stock them, but your best bet is a health food store where they have self-serve bins of beans and lentils. That’s where I found the French lentils was at my local A Mart which is a regional well-stocked natural food store in Newport.
To cook lentils, weight what you need out, rinse, then put in a saucepan. Add the lentils, a bay leaf, salt, and water making sure it covers the lentils. Put on the stove with the lid on high for about 20-30 minutes. Test it along the way. I’m bad at setting timers so I have guess and test.
The question of cheese arises. You can use goat or cow’s milk feta for a vegetarian meal. To make it vegan, you can omit the feta or use a vegan feta cheese. Any way you serve it, it will be tasty.
Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil Feta Salad is super easy to make and is a quick, healthy summer dinner. Want more plant-based recipes? Go here.
Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil Feta Salad
- - 2 large carrots, cut into cubes or sliced baby carrots
- - 1 red onion, finely sliced
- - 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled cut into cubes
- - 3 tbsp olive oil
- - Pinch dried chilli flakes
- - 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- - Pinch of salt
- - 250g cooked French lentils
- - 1 Bay Leaf
- - Feta, crumbled
- - 2-4 hand full of greens
- - Preheat the oven to 400F or 300C. See post for Air Fryer instructions.
- - Put the carrot, onion and sweet potato in a large shallow baking tray, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and the chili flakes.
- - Roast for 30 mins, turning occasionally, or until tender and turning golden.
- - Make the lentils according to the pack instructions adding salt and bay leaf.
- - Serve lentil on a bed of greens.
- - Top with the roasted vegetables and crumbled feta.
- - Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
by amvandenhurk | Plant-Based Eating, Vegetarian
Homemade Hummus Made Fresh
Hummus is a quick and delicious snack or meal. It is easy to stop at the grocery store picking up a tub. While store-bought is good, hummus made fresh is the best. When you make it yourself, it just tastes so much better and you can adjust it to your tastes. Everyone has their own recipe for hummus.
Reader’s Digest Hummus
My hummus recipe came from an old Reader’s Digest magazine. The page is crumbled and covered in stains of olive oil and tahini it has been used so much. You’d think I’d have it memorized after all of those years, but I still need it. The hummus recipe was to be used for a healthy fried chicken recipe so it wasn’t as creamy. While I have that fried chicken recipe, I’ve never made it. I just use the hummus recipe. Maybe sometime soon I’ll make that chicken recipe since it does look rather tasty. I may try it in the Air Fryer.
The recipe wasn’t creamy, but more stick to the chicken kind and that’s what it is designed to do. It was tasty but creamy and smooth hummus is so nice. I had to modify it. Not a fan of the overpowering flavor of garlic, I keep the garlic under control only using one small clove since I’m pretty sure Newport does not have a vampire problem. I add spices like cumin into the mix. I’m generous with all the other ingredients. What I have found the key to the smooth hummus is ice cubes. You blend them in one at a time until you get the texture you want. Now there is a huge debate with the Middle East as to who invented it and who makes it the best.
Not Just for Pretzels
While it is a dip, it makes a delicious spread as the filling of a fresh simple roasted Vegetable Hummus Tart. Serviced with a salad, it makes for a simple yet stunning dinner. It can also be a side such as with Imam Bayildi or Turkish Eggplant Tomato Casserole, pita, and a salad. At BJ’s, the stock really pitas. There are big, soft, and chewy which brings the whole meal together. Simple, fresh, healthy foods.
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 Tablespoon Tahini
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Teaspoon cumin
- 1 Teaspoon paprika
- 3-5 ice cubes
- Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth adding an ice cube for desired creaminess.
by amvandenhurk | Indian, Life, Lifestyle, Vegetarian
Plant-Based Eating – Not Just for Hippies
I’ve been down this road before regarding cutting down on meat in our family’s diet. It is a struggle to come up with varied, filling, and tasty vegetarian meals to serve to my guys that they will eat willingly. It is especially given all that is going on in my life. I’m leading two lives being a history hero by day and a cyber warrior by night. It is all good. I’m using both sides of my brain and regaining awareness of the world around me again I have not had in ages.
Helping the Environment
Being an environmental stewart has been part of my life for decades, but moving to an island has brought it front and center. We recycle, use reusable containers, reusable bags, conserve water, and compost. It isn’t easy in a culture built on ease and convenience. It is tough to remember to bring my own reusable straw. And many places will not fill your reusable bottle if it isn’t their branded cup. As a PR person, I get it from a branding perspective, but as someone who wants to do the right thing, it is frustrating with ending up with a collection of plastic drink cups. Maybe that’s a sign I need to give up my unsweetened iced tea habit from fast-food places. Add in the fact that many grocery stores have everything wrapped plastic, it is hard to get away from plastics. In fact, it seems that everything we use on a daily basis is made with plastics.
Going Towards Plant-Based
Acknowledging the above, we still have a lot more to do. One way we are working towards a more Earth-friendly life is getting serious about plant-based eating. Plant-based eating is being either a vegetarian or a vegan. Now those two words are loaded for people. That is sad since most of the planet, plant-based eating is the norm, not the exception. Meat is a special treat. The terms have become socially and politically-charged in Europe and the US. But over history, there have been movements to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg. I’m a supporter of eating more of a plant-based diet. For me, it isn’t political or a social statement, my body just feels better the more fresh fruit, veg, beans, and legumes I eat. What you eat is your choice and I will never shame anyone into eating plant-based, but I’d suggest you try one recipe a week. Start a tradition of Meatless Monday. We are up about 4-5 days a week now.
Pantry is Key
Outside of how it makes me feel, it is also budget and time friendly. Meat is expensive especially if you are purchasing, for example, natural or organic beef. Beans, rice, and legumes are priced well and you can purchase them in bulk. The key to plant-based eating for me is having a well-stocked pantry. In my basement, I have shelves of canned goods like various types of tomatoes, beans, and coconut milk as well as containers of veggie broth, rice, lentils, and pasta. I keep onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes down there as well. My freezer has frozen veg such as corn, peas, and mixed veggies and naan bread. Types of fresh peppers, cauliflower, cilantro, minced garlic, crushed ginger, curry pastes, cheeses, and other sauces are always in my fridge. On my counter, I always have apples, lemons/lime, avocados, and tomatoes. I buy the spices in bulk I use a lot of at an Indian store or Asian grocery. If one isn’t near you, it is worth it doing one big stock-up making an adventure about it. Go with a list. Once you have the pantry stocked just purchase the fresh items you need. There are times my grocery bill is $20 in a week since all I need is the fresh stuff.
We aren’t 100 percent plant-based. We love dairy products a little too much. And my guys enjoy chicken and pork. (And so do I) Fish is on the menu at our house, too. We aren’t vegetarian or vegan. That would be very hard for us, but as I said earlier we are at 4-5 times a week eating plant-based with some added dairy depending on the recipe. That said we are moving slowly towards plant-based by cutting down on dairy and have cut out beef from our grocery list.
If you are interested in a plant-based diet then I have some easy recipes to start with in my vegetarian section such as Lentil Ragu over pasta pictured above.
Or this recipe for Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos with Avocado-Lime Creme. Simple ingredients to pick up at your local grocery store. I used Indian store chili powder for the sweet potatoes causing it to be very spicy. So depending on where you got your spices, amounts will change. Grocery store chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon is enough, but for me having the Indian store spices which by the way are typically stronger than the grocery store spices, I will need to cut it in half. I forgot to get yogurt so I used sour cream. Also, I used a bagged kale salad with red cabbage. Recipes like this are flexible. Adapt it to what you have on hand.
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Creme
- 1-2 medium sweet potato, cubed
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- Flour Tortillas
- 1 can black beans, drained, and rinsed
- Kosher and freshly ground black pepper
- Avocado-Lime Creme
- ½ cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- 1 small avocado
- ½ garlic clove or a small one
- Juice of 1 lime
- Kosher salt & fresh black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400° F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, chili powder, salt and pepper, and spread onto the baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- In a food processor or blender, combine the yogurt, avocado, garlic, lime juice, and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Take the Turtle Approach
Take baby steps in moving to plant-based eating. Introduce it slowly into your lifestyle as you build up a pantry and an understanding of what foods you like. The food is colorful and flavorful with lots of different textures. It will be an adjustment in mindset over the meat, starch, and veg approach most of us grew up with as kids. A good documentary to watch is Forks over Knives. Find out what works for you and then go for it.