Thursday, 31 March 2011

Red Lentil Dahl

In keeping with the love of lentils, today's post is all about spicing them up, Indian style. Dahl is kind of like a lentil stew with any mix of spices and liquid you like. This version has just enough spice without heat, is delicious hot or cold, inexpensive to make, and whips up in no time. I make this about once a week. Sometimes twice.

The original recipe calls for toasting whole spices, which I'm sure makes this dish amazing. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients - you can get everything from the grocery store. I have a well-stocked spice cabinet, but almost all my spices are ground and from the grocery store. I've made adjustments and tested this dish multiple times to get it just right. You know what I've found? It's a little different every time, but always amazing, so don't worry too much about exact measurements. If there's something you don't like, just omit it. Simple as that.

Red Lentil Dahl (adapted from Eden Kitchen)


1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ¼ cup red lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lime
1 cup chopped cilantro (for garnish)
Plain yogurt or sour cream (for garnish)


Toast the spices (not the cinnamon) in a large skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from skillet, cool, and then crush into a fine powder with the cinnamon. I do this old-school, with a mortar and pestle. It also works with a spice grinder, but is a lot more fun the old-fashioned way.

Heat the oil in the same large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions for 3-4 min or until translucent. Add garlic and ginger and sauté another 3-4 minutes. Add spices and salt and sauté 3-4 minutes more.

Add lentils and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 20 min.

Add lime juice and some water if it looks too thick. Simmer 5 minutes more or until lentils are tender.

Garnish with cilantro and some plain yogurt or sour cream.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Lentil Love

Since we have cut down our meat and dairy consumption, I have been integrating a lot of lentil dishes into the weekly rotation. What can I say - they're tasty, they're cheap, they come in different colours, they're a good protein source, and they can go into almost anything. The only drawback as far as I am concerned is their high carbohydrate content. A favourite of ours for the last few weeks has been Red Lentil Dahl, adapted from Eden Kitchen. A new favourite has just come from Dinner With Julie, requiring almost no adaptation.

The lovely thing about lentils is that they can replace the meat portion of your dish very easily, especially where soups, stews, curries and chilis are concerned. Their flavour is so neutral that they will blend nicely into just about anything you're making, and the texture is similar to that of ground meat if you leave them un-blended. I prefer lentils to just about any soy product because I believe they are healthier (read: non-processed).

If you're looking to go meatless or consume less meat, try replacing meat with lentils. This is especially crucial for those on the A diet. A couple of recipes will be forthcoming to get you started!

Monday, 21 March 2011


Make you strong like bull!

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

My Oma used to make borscht when I was little and it was as comforting for me as chicken soup is for most people (she made that too, btw). Her version had beef, and since the hubby and I can no longer have beef, this is a lighter vegetarian version. It tastes great hot or cold, and I think it's a lovely dish to commemorate the first day of spring.

Borscht (adapted from Dinner With Julie)

olive oil, for cooking
2 onions, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, fine dice
2 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 leek, diced
1/2 head savoy cabbage, shredded
4c vegetable stock
3-4 beets, peeled and roasted
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

Low fat sour cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 375F.

Peel your beets with a paring knife and wrap each one in tin foil. Put them all on a baking sheet and cook for about 1 hour. Open the little parcels and let them cool so they can be handled later.

(Protip: there are like a zillion ways to roast beets - peeling then roasting is my favourite way)

In a large pot, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onions with some salt for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, celery, carrot, leek and cabbage and cook for about 10 minutes, until everything is soft and starting to turn golden.

Add the stock and 2-4 cups of water. Grate the beets using the coarse side of a box grater and add those as well. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender and the broth has thickened slightly. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste and serve hot, with a big dollop of sour cream on top.

Take a minute to look at the colour of your soup. There's nothing better than that gorgeous magenta colour.

This is also great served cold as leftovers the next day. Sour cream is a must.

When you eat roasted beets, leave a post-it note on the back of the bathroom door reminding yourself that you did so to avoid some scares the next day.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Spaghetti-squash Tetrazzini

I saw this in a Chatelaine magazine, and was so happy that I could adapt it without any trouble whatsoever. I enjoy using spaghetti squash in place of pasta, and have been doing it for ages because it makes lighter, healthier meals.

Spaghetti-squash Tetrazzini (adapted from Chatelaine)

  • 14 g pkg dried mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • large spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 227 g pkg sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour mixture, or brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup cold goat's milk
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella chees, or goat's milk mozerella 
  •  2 thinly-sliced tomatoes, if serving AB's only
  1.  Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the squash in half, take out the seeds, and lie the cut sides down in a big baking dish, and then put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan. Cover and bake for about 75-90 minutes depending how big the squash is. Remove squash and let cool slightly.
  2. Your kitchen will smell awesome!
  3. Increase oven to 450F. Crumble a 14-g pkg of dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl. Add 1/2 cup white wine and let soak 10 min.
  4. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium. Add olive oil, minced garlic cloves and a package of sliced cremini mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms soften, about 4 min. Add 2 tbsp of flour, 1 tsp dried basil, a pinch of salt, 1/8 tsp nutmeg and the soaked dried mushrooms and wine. Cook, stirring often, 1 min. Stir in 1 cup milk. Cook until sauce thickens, 2 to 3 min. Remove from heat, then stir in 1 cup grated part-skim mozzarella cheese.
  5. By now, your squash should be cool enough to scoop. Scrape the strands into the skillet with a fork and mix with the mushrooms, milk and cheese.
  6. Scoop squash mixture into 4 individual oven-safe dishes or an 8-in. square baking dish. Smooth tops. Top with 2 thinly sliced plum tomatoes if you are serving AB's. Bake until bubbly, 10 to 15 min.
Need wine pairings with this dish? I suggest an oaked chardonnay to compliment the earthiness of the mushrooms. I served this with a Nicholson Ranch chardonnay from California.

    Thursday, 10 March 2011

    The AB Breakfast Omelette

    I like to work out first thing in the morning. There are a few reasons for this: I haven't been awake long enough to talk myself out of going to the gym. My work hours are long and waiting until the end of the day means a very unproductive workout. And it's damn crowded in my gym after work.

    Most days, I'm in the gym between 4 and 4:30am lifting big heavy weights, turbulence training, and endurance training. Not all on the same day, of course. After I'm done, I like to eat a good breakfast high in protein and unrefined carbs to refuel my body. I do this even on the days when I have to dash off to work.

    To make life easier, I saute all my veggies Sunday night to get them ready for a week of breakfast-y consumption, and just keep them in the fridge. Here's what I cut up on masse:

    1/2 or 1 onion, fine dice
    1 sweet potato, fine dice
    1 stalk of celery, fine dice
    2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
    250 (or so) grams of mushrooms, diced

    Heat some olive oil in a pan and saute the veggies, starting with the top of the list and working your way from onions to mushrooms as each layer softens. Add a pinch of kosher salt to help flavour everything and help it soften. I like to add some paprika and chili powder at the end for extra flavour.

    Let this cool, then store in the fridge until needed.

    So for each omelette, I scramble:

    2 eggs from free-run chickens (or if I'm feeling really virtuous, I'll use 1 whole egg and 1 egg white, saving the yolk for mayonnaise)
    splash of water
    pinch of salt

    Gather the other accoutrements:

    Spinach leaves
    Low-fat feta cheese

    Preheat a small skillet on medium and add a little olive oil. Once it's hot, add the eggs and let them cook for a minute. Add a handful or so of veggies and spread them out over 1/2 of the omelette. While everything is cooking, add a small knob of cheese (like 1 Tbsp - I just crumble it over everything with my hands) and the spinach leaves.

    While everything is still a little soft, fold the side with no veggies over the veggies and flip the whole shebang over. Turn the heat to low, cover it with a lid, and cook for a few more minutes. I like mine a little gooey, and this method leaves me with a slightly raw, vegetable-y omelette.

    Beats a bowl of cereal any day!

    Sunday, 6 March 2011

    No-wheat Tortillas

    I looooove tortillas. Quesadillas, enchiladas, chips, and anything else that can be made from or wrapped in a tortilla, I adore. Back in the day, I used to take a tortilla, spread peanut butter on the inside, and roll it up with thinly-sliced apple and eat the whole mess for breakfast every day. It was a great portable breakfast or snack for work and it tasted great.

    Now that wheat and corn are verboten, I've had to find alternatives. Rice-only tortillas taste like cardboard. I may be taking this little diet seriously, but I still need flavour in my life. So my search brought me to websites promoting gluten-free recipes. Since I've abandoned all hope of finding a store-bought tortilla that meets my needs, I've resorted to making them myself.

    First things first, I need flour. No problem! Enter this website. They used corn products in the original mix, so I've adapted it as follows:

    All Purpose Flour (adapted from Gluten Free Cooking School)

    Ingredients (all are from Bob's Red Mill)

    3 parts brown rice flour
    2 parts arrowroot
    2 parts soy flour
    1 part almond meal

    Mix all ingredients together in a container. I use a big Rubbermaid one with a sealed lid and locks on the side.

    This mix smells darn good and has a lovely texture. I used a 1-cup measure per "part", so I ended up with 8 cups of flour.

    To make tortillas, start with 2 cups of your all-purpose flour and add:

    1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
    2 tsp sugar
    1 tsp salt
    1 c. warm water

    (Tortilla recipe adapted from Gluten Free Cooking School once again)

    Using the methodology on the original site, this recipe should make 8 tortillas.

    Coles Notes version of instructions: mix all dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients and mix until fully mixed. Use your hands. Divide into 8 pieces, roll them nice and thin, then cook for 4 mins per side on a cast iron flat top griddle or in a pan (if you don't have a griddle).

    Friday, 4 March 2011

    Miso Salmon

    So there is no shortage of recipes out there for miso-glazed salmon. This one is not glazed. It's marinated. And it has booze. And I'm not very precise with my measurements. So enjoy!


    WILD Salmon fillets. The not so wild ones are full of things like sea lice and failure (2, 4, however many you need. I buy my fish pre-cut at the store because I'm lazy)

    2 heaping spoonfuls white miso paste
    1/4 c soy sauce or tamari
    juice of 1/2 lemon
    1 tbsp honey
    2-3 tbsp (or more) sake


    Mix all ingredients together and marinate at least 12 hours, or longer for extra yum. Grill salmon for about 4 mins per side, depending on the salmon's thickness.

    Serve with your choice of sides, such as brown rice and salad. I had mine with a green salad and some sauteed kale. You don't know how to make sauteed kale? Well aren't you in for a treat. Here's how:

    Wash a bunch of kale and cut into small pieces
    Heat some olive oil in a large saute pan on low and throw in 2 cloves of minced garlic
    Once you can smell the garlic, add the kale with a pinch of salt and move it around in the flavoured oil for a few minutes or until it's as done as you like. If you would like to steam it, but the lid on your saute pan and let it cook for a few minutes.
    Kale should never be mushy. Mushy kale is why people hate kale.

    No-vinegar Mayonnaise

    Remember how I said that this no vinegar business was cramping my salad-making style? Well, it's also cramping my condiment style. I didn't realize just how much stuff has vinegar as the second or third ingredient on the list. Mayonnaise? Yup. Ketchup? You'd best believe it. Worcestershire? Heavens to Betsy, I die.

    I like a little bling (read: condiments) with my food, so for the firs time ever, I made my own mayonnaise. You know what? It's so yummy and so much better than anything from the store. If you have a lot of patience and a mixer (I used a hand mixer because my KitchenAid Mixer was out of reach and the husband wasn't home), I recommend trying this.

    Mayonnaise (adapted from Elizabeth Nyland at Guilty Kitchen)


    2 room temperature egg yolks (leave them on the counter for a couple hours). I used eggs from free-run chickens
    1/2 tsp mustard powder
    1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
    400 mL Extra virgin olive oil
    Juice of one lemon


    I can't really instruct as well as Elizabeth does, so I recommend using the method described and shown in her original post. The Coles Notes version is this: grab a metal and bowl and beat the egg yolks, salt and mustard powder in it. Then add 200 mL oil in a veeeeeery thin stream.

    I ended up pouring my olive oil into a measuring cup and adding it drop by drop from a teaspoon. Totally time-consuming, but it worked very well.

    Add the lemon juice and the rest of the oil and keep mixing it til it looks like mayonnaise. Or til you can mix no more. Whichever comes first.

    Leave it alone for an hour to two to let the lemon juice do its thing, then keep in the fridge and enjoy with everything. This is a great flavour carrier, so feel free to add herbs and spices as well, to make a more flavourful mayo.

    Mayo really has a bad rap, but I feel it's undeserved. We're talking about 2 egg yolks and some olive oil here, people; nothing too scary.

    I'm going to enjoy this with sweet potato fries and a beer and I recommend that you enjoy it with whatever you love as well.

    Cheesy Broccoli Soup

    I love cheesy broccoli soup. Back when I used to snowboard regularly, it was my favourite thing to eat after a day on the slopes. Perhaps not the best choice nutritionally, but man did it taste good.

    Luckily for me, broccoli and several dairy products are on the beneficial list, and it's easy to healthy it up a bit. I based my recipe on the Broccoli Soup recipe at Fat Loss Quickie by Scott and Angie Toussignant.

    Extra virgin olive oil
    2 large heads of broccoli, chopped (including stems)
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 cups water
    1 large stalk of celery, fine dice
    1 onion, fine dice
    2 tbsp almond or walnut oil
    2 tbsp arrowroot starch
    2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
    Dash of ground nutmeg
    1/2 cup goat milk
    1-2 oz. goat cheese
    cheddar (AB) or feta (A), for topping
    Salt to taste

    1. Heat oil over medium heat
    2. Add broccoli, celery, garlic and onion, sprinkle with salt, and saute until slightly softened.
    3. Add water, cover and boil for 5-10 minutes or until broccoli is tender. Do not drain.
    4. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth.
    5. Mix arrowroot and oil together until smooth, and add a ladleful of warm soup. This is going to create a slurry.
    6. Stir slurry into hot soup, add broth, and heat to boil. Boil mixture for 1 minute while continuously stirring.
    7. Add nutmeg then turn heat down to low (or off). Add milk and goat cheese and stir.
    8. Remove from heat and season to taste. Serve with grated cheddar cheese or feta on sprinkled on top.

    Tuesday, 1 March 2011

    Turkey Curry

    I've been making turkey curry for ages in some form or another. I prefer the taste of turkey to chicken, and I like that I can buy turkey tenders from the store, which cuts down on my prep work. Some sauteed veggies and a can of Patak's sauce, serve over rice, and there you go.

    Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on Patak's sauces? They are full of things no one should eat, like vegetable oil, but more important, they contain several ingredients that are unsuitable for As and/or ABs, such as tomatoes and coconut milk.

    I needed inspiration, so I looked through my Thai and Indian cookbooks for help. New Thai Cuisine, by Nathan Hyam, proved most useful. I ended up making a peanut butter pineapple curry sauce, which can be used with any combination of meat, soy, and/or veg you like. It's intended to be a dipping sauce for satay, but when thinned out, works nicely for curries.

    I used turkey because it's good for me. And because I like it.

    Pineapple Peanut Sauce (adapted from New Thai Cuisine, by Nathan Hyam)

    1/4 of a pineapple, fine dice (A/AB beneficial)
    1 tbsp soy sauce (A beneficial/AB neutral)
    1 tsp curry powder (A neutral/AB beneficial)
    1/4 tsp hot curry powder (optional)
    2 garlic cloves, minced (A/AB beneficial)
    1/4 cup water (or more as needed to thin the sauce)
    3 tbsp all-natural peanut butter (ALL-NATURAL. Don't mess around here and use something that's packed with crap. Do yourself a favour and use the good stuff where the ingredients are limited to peanuts and salt. I like Maranatha.) (A/AB beneficial)

    Other goodies

    3 turkey tenders, or however much you want, cut into pieces (A neutral/AB beneficial)
    1 onion, rough dice (A beneficial/AB neutral)
    1 celery stalk, rough dice (A/AB beneficial)
    Extra virgin olive oil (A/AB beneficial)

    1 head of broccoli, cut into pieces (including the stems) (A/AB beneficial)
    2-3 parsnips, peeled and chopped (A/AB beneficial)
    1 zucchini, chopped (A/AB neutral)
    1 cup mushrooms of your choice, quartered (I used cremini) (A/AB neutral)

    Preheat your oven to 450F. Lay the broccoli, parsnips, zucchini and mushrooms on a sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, mix with your hands, and pop the tray into the oven. Cook for about 15-20 mins, or until the veggies are good and roasted with brown and black bits on them.

    Now, let's make some curry sauce! Put the pineapple and any accumulated juices into a small saucepan and heat over medium. Add everything else except the peanut butter and let it come to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Mix until smooth, and add more water as needed to make it saucier. Or leave it the way it is.

    Meanwhile, heat a large skillet on medium and put in a little olive oil. Add onions, celery and a small pinch of salt, and let them soften. The salt will help the onions sweat. Once the onions are translucent, add the turkey and cook until it is opaque.

    Reduce heat to low. Add your sauce, put on the lid, and let the whole mess cook for about 5-10 minutes. Add the roasted veggies right before serving, mix, and enjoy over rice.