Category: low fat

Spice Up Your Life (Spicy Lentil Stew)

So I’ve had this can of chiles that’s been sitting in my pantry since Thanksgiving weekend. “Use us! Use us,” They would chirp every once in a while, while I re-arranged my cabinets. I bought them on a whim, not quite sure what I was going to use them for, nor quite sure what they would even taste like. They’ve made the move from shelf to shelf, to the front, to the back, to the left… alright, before I get all Beyonce up in here… they’ve basically been the most challenging food item I’ve ever bought.

But why? I love the addition of chile peppers in soups, stews, and especially in Indian meals, which I’ve grown an intense fondness for in recent months. So what was holding me back from tossing the contents of this little can into my own cooking? I’ll never really know. Perhaps it was fear that they would be too… (insert unpleasantry here). Too hot. Too bland. Too processed. Too tinny. Too salty. However, much to my delight, they aren’t any of those things! These little babies are the secret ingredient in the best-lentils-I’ve-ever-made, and they will possibly serve as the hidden gem in the meals I’ll be making in the chilly days to come.

So, without further adieu, here’s a dish that will warm you on a wintery evening: a combination of hearty lentils to fill you up, sweet bell peppers and earthy greens to add some balance, and smoky heat to warm your soul. Pairs perfectly with a pint of stout, dark or amber ale, or, compliment it nicely by sipping on some smoky whiskey between bites.

(Best Ever) Spicy Lentil Stew
oh hey! it’s vegan! – an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
2 whole chiles in adobo sauce, diced
1 tsp of adobo sauce ( ^ from can)
1 cup brown lentils, soaked (not canned)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 cup spinach*, chopped
3/4 cup vegetable broth (or ale)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt

*note: you may substitute kale or collard greens for a more earthy flavour.

how to do it
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine lentils, spinach, cilantro and bell pepper in a casserole dish. Toss with spices and adobo sauce. Pour broth over the entire mixture. Cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring once, about half way. Best served over cooked basmati rice with a dollop of yogourt. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a pinch of smoked paprika.

Superfood, Superfast.

However you pronounce it, Quinoa is one little superfood that packs a nutritious punch.

If you’re a foodie, you’re probably familiar with the grain-like substance, often served warm in place of rice, or tossed into a chilled side salad. A little bit fluffier than couscous and slightly larger than millet, quinoa is surprisingly not considered a grain. Quinoa is in the spinach family, which might explain it’s nutritional power: quinoa is a complete protein, which means that it contains all ten essential amino acids – and, it is the only known plant source that does so. This makes it an excellent choice for those of us who follow a meatless diet. Quinoa is gluten-free, low in calories and is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, manganese, riboflavin (vitamin B2), folate, zinc and dietary fibre.

Quinoa can be found in most supermarkets either in the organic/health food section or alongside the grains and rice (usually next to the couscous.) If you’re not in a prime grocery location, you can always buy quinoa online. 

What I like most about quinoa is the pseudograin’s versatility: quinoa has a rather neutral flavor on it’s own, which offers up the opportuntiy to toss it with whatever your tastebuds are craving, or whatever you have lying around in your fridge! You can serve it sweetned topped with cinnamon and raisins (think rice pudding), spiced up with chili or curry, robust with pesto, or refreshing and light with lemon, rosemary and dill. I made a slightly creamy version using some leftover sour cream and goat cheese and I added some extra colour and crunch with steamed broccoli and chopped fresh basil. So, what are you waiting for? Get it onto your plate today!


Quinoa with Goat Cheese, Basil & Broccoli

What you’ll need:
1 cup uncooked white quinoa
1½ cups water
1 tsp butter
1 cup broccoli florets
½ cup crumbled goat cheese (or more, to taste)
1/3 cup sour cream (low fat or 5% will do the trick)
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

How to do it:
In a fine sieve, rinse quinoa well under cool water (this step is unnecessary if you’ve purchased already-rinsed quinoa). Combine quinoa, water and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med/low and cover saucepan until quinoa expands and water is absorbed (about 15 minutes). While quinoa is cooking, steam broccoli on the stovetop or in the microwave. (To steam broccoi in microwave, place in a shallow dish with 1/4 cup water and heat on high for 1 minute.)
Toss quinoa with sour cream, cheese, basil and broccoli. Garnish with extra basil and cracked black peppercorns. Serve and enjoy!