Warming up to Healthy Eating- Lentil Soup

picture-for-blog-post-01-01-17

Was last night the sixth holiday party we just attended? Yes, it surely was. Or perhaps it was the thirteen. I’ve lost count. While I relished every last friend, holiday/new year wish, hors d’oeuvre, cookie & cocktail with gusto, I am now carried away to a more sensible space. Here in Florida it’s a sometimes cold place we call January.

If you are like us and many others, who have spent the last month stuffed with stuffing and tipsy with holiday cheer, January brings with it a promising opportunity for replenishment, balance, and the only way to do that is by giving your body everything it needs to thrive. Lots of healthy foods and vegetables.

But to go right from cookies to carrots in 0 to 60 seconds seems crazy, we believe the body must be eased back into it’s normal patterns gently and reasonably. No fad diets, or pill will have you looking and feeling your best.

At Intelligent Gourmet, we know it’s not about losing weight – it’s about living your best life. That said, for many of us, part of becoming healthier, happier people involves undoing some of the less-great decisions of the last several weeks and, yes, losing weight. Unfortunately, changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight (though one diet claims otherwise)

What matters is keeping your nutrition high, your calories controlled, and your exercise up!

Try working your way back into some better eating habits with a healthy soup packed with protein and vegetables. Here we share with you a recipe for a very versatile lentil soup that you can easily adapt to your families personal preferences and pantry inventory:

Ingredients

  • 1 # package of dried lentils (You can use any kind you like, red, green, brown and black beluga)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, (small diced)
  • 1 large carrots, (small diced)
  • 2 ribs of celery (small diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • 1 12 oz package of winter squash cubes (available at most grocers)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • 4-6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 hand full of your favorite greens chopped, (kale, spinach, mustard, or chard)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • flat leaf parsley (for garnish)
  • olive oil

Directions

  1. Start my heating some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over moderate heat, (you do not want the olive oil smoking) Add the chopped, carrot, celery and onion and allow these vegetable to sauté slowly about 8 – 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent add in your chopped garlic, salt and spices, stir and cook another 2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add in your winter squash cubes of choice and toss to combine.
  3. Add 4 cups of your stock ( chicken or vegetable depending on if you are making this vegan or not), and bring to a boil.
  4. Add in your raw lentils ( Lentils do not need to be soaked like other beans but do rinse, Check the cooking time on the package, which can vary from one type to the next. Red lentils cook in as little as 15 minutes while the black ones can take as long as 45 minutes.)
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until lentils are just tender but not mushy, and your squash is soft. (Add additional stock if you want a thinner soup adjust to your liking)
  6. When the lentils are just tender, add the chopped greens. (They’ll only take a minute or two to wilt remove the pot from the burner as soon as the greens are wilted and bright green.)
  7. Finish with freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil, and a generous amount of chopped parsley. Adjust salt if necessary.

CHEF NOTE:

Change up your meal in any one of these 4 ways.

  1. You can trade 1/2 the stock with coconut cream for a creamy flavor.
  2. Season with smoked paprika, a touch of liquid smoke, and a ham bone.
  3. Add in a 14 ounce can of diced tomato for another variation.
  4. Serve with a tablespoon of greek yogurt on top.
Advertisements

SUMMER MATH

Sometimes you add ideas to your diet, sometimes you subtract (and when it comes to kale, you always multiply!). For summertime, there are a few nutritional “must-add” and definitely some “take-aways” to keep yourself healthy and in perfect working order:  

Additions: 

Water, Water, Water

Staying hydrated come summertime is vital to your health and wellbeing. Remember, your body is a graceful, gorgeous temple…that also houses more water than anything else. Replenishing yourself frequently will help keep your energy high, your spirits higher, and even allow you to sleep better at night.

GMO – Free

Look for foods that are not genetically modified organisms. A GMO has genetic material from unrelated organisms – like a fish gene in a tomato (um, weird). In theory, GMO’s breed hardier plants by helping them resist drought and pests. But what GMO’s do to humans over a long period of time is not known. Wait until you know the facts before you buy into the fads.

Subtractions:

Faux wheat

Yes, pure wheat and whole grains can be good for you (if you’re not gluten intolerant). But not everything labeled as “wheat” is truly made from wheat. In fact, wheat bread is generally made from white flour, and thus the same as eating Wonderbread. Anything can be labeled as wheat if the flour used comes from the wheat plant. Check your label for the ingredients list and if it contains the words “wheat flour” or anything “enriched” or “blanched” pass over it. Instead go for a 100% whole -grain like Ezekiel or Sunflower bread, and look for the terms “100% pure” and “organic whole grains.”

Fat Free

No, really. Anything fat free is to be avoided, unless it’s naturally made so. If fat is removed, so is flavor…which means food manufacturers added artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, or sugar to make it taste decent. The exception here is natural fats, or “good fats” as they’re often called. Nosh on avocados or nuts guilt free.

Image

Food for Thought: Mother (Nature) Knows Best

Mama Nature’s natural tendency come summer is to pull all the animals out of hibernation – and that includes you. As sunbathing becomes part of your daily routine, you’ll notice a natural aversion to dense and heavy foods, like stews, pot roasts, and casseroles. Trade in those winter-reminders with lots of the easily accessible fruits and veggies. Those bright berries and lush greens expedite our bodies ability to detoxify, naturally making us feel cool in the heat.

Curious as to what summer fruits and vegetables you’ll find to fill your plate? Apricots, avocados, basil, beets, blueberries, mango, peaches, plums, squash and tomatoes are just a few natural treats that will be plentiful. Imagine a simple lunch each day of fresh basil leaves and heirloom tomatoes drizzled in olive oil. Perfection. Add a sprinkle of goat cheese for a more fanciful fare.
photo by aeiowu