Tag Archives: economical

Recipe: Hearty French Lentils

More Hearty. More Simple. More Good.

It’s really that easy.

But is it? I am telling you this girl thinks so!

In the midst of a busy life, many of us can too easily succumb to feelings of pressure ( I know I can).

Pressure to perform. Pressure to please. Pressure to be who we want to be. Maybe even pressure to be what we think others want us to be. Staying cool and calm amongst all these pressures can be tough. But it’s the only way to win (in my very humble opinion).

Staying grounded starts with good nutrition. If we are fed well, our brains work and our bodies work. We can see things for what they really are.

We are all alike, on the inside.

~ Mark Twain

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Being well fed need not be complicated.

Mixing together compatible ingredients that taste great, feed our bodies, and can be pulled together easily with (just a little) know how, is really all it takes.

The trick is to just keep it real . This recipe is the perfect start.

French lentils make beautiful firm mouthfuls out of this dish, but any green or brown lentil will do, though cooking time will vary.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.

~ Henry David Thoreau

The Less:

Less pressure to be fancy means more simple hearty foods. Less hard to find ingredients means more easily at hand meals. Less cooked, canned, and processed protein means good fuel is cheaper, cleaner, and more healthful. And when it’s this easy to cook, why not?

The More:

More hearty warm comfort food means more comfort for the soul. More easy ways to fill up means more reasons to make it habit. More simple herbs and spices means creating variety is easy, so making delicious out of (just a little) quickly becomes second nature.

Hearty French Lentils:

  • (2) tbsp good olive oil
  • (1) large onion, chopped medium (2 cups chopped)
  • (1 – 1.5) tsp salt, or to taste
  • (2) tsp ground cumin
  • (3-4) carrots, peeled and cubed
  • (2)ย  Tbsp garlic, minced (about 3-4 good-sized cloves)
  • (3) bay leaves
  • (2) tbsp tomato paste
  • (1) cup Puy or French lentils
  • (3-4) cups water (I used 3)

Start by putting up the olive oil to heat in a medium pot on medium high. When hot, add the chopped onion and salt, and cook, stirring for 5-8 minutes or so until the onions are translucent.

Add the carrots, cumin and garlic, and cook a further 5 minutes, stirring often, being careful not to let the garlic burn.

Once all the veggies are glistening and the cumin is smelling fragrant and delicious, add the water, lentils, tomato paste, and bay leaves and stir to incorporate.

Bring to a boil on high.

Once boiling, turn heat to medium low (not low) and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice from the bottom up. After the first 20 minutes, remove the lid and rest on the side of the pot so a little air can escape. Cook another 20 minutes (total of 40 minutes) stirring here and there.

Serve piping hot with crusty fresh bread, and top with your choice of olive oil, black pepper, fresh herbs, chopped chives or scallions, fresh tomato, or slices of red onion.

You really can’t go wrong.

This dish will keep for up to 5-6 days in your fridge (it gets better the longer it languishes) and freezes well too. So double it up if you want leftovers. Seriously!

It could be because I grew up eating lentils, but I don’t know of a greater comfort food than this. There are endless variations to the uses for them, limited only by what is in season, or what you have on hand.

They are cheap. They keep forever. They are for real.

Not all those who wander are lost.

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

This dish will make a special appearance at an even more special event this weekend, stay tuned for that – I’ll be sharing!

Let’s just say it all started with Chris & Carla ๐Ÿ˜‰ Read up about that here (you’ll be glad you did).

  • What is your ultimate easy comfort food?
  • Got a favorite way with lentils?

I’d love to hear how you keep it real from day-to-day.

Even with all the pressures we face, staying cool and calm is always helped by (just a little) of the right fuel at the right times.

And it needn’t ever be expensive or complicated (unless you want it to be).

I hope you’ll try this one!

On a small side note – apologies to all of my beloved blogging buds for falling behind (just a little) in my comments and visits this week, I’ve got a fairly big project on the go that is demanding my attention, one that I will be sharing with you all shortly! I’ll look forward to getting back in the groove with you all in good time ๐Ÿ™‚

Yours in Less,

93 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

3 Recipes for Simple Living (and to pair with a mean curry)

Easy. Simple. Good!

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

~Mahatma Gandhi

I desperately want to tell you that the recipes I am about to share are very complicated. I want to tell you that you must be a culinary wizard to make them, and that you also must have deep pockets to be able to afford them.

But all of that would (of course) be a lie, because none of this is true (and I didn’t really want to tell you those things!).

Given that most of the world subsists on inexpensive healthy staples like rice, beans, and veggies, it is easy to see why it’s not so bad when they taste this darned good!

Hope is not what we find in evidence, it’s what we become in action.

~ Frances Moore Lappรฉ

The 3 recipes included in today’s post are the perfect base or accent to any curry dish. Or really anything you fancy to go with it, for that matter.

Whether you pair it with the Paneer curry from the last post, this IPOM Red Lentil Curry, or any one of your favorite recipes, a few easy breezy steps and you are good to go!

Rice is naturally gluten-free, and there are so many varieties to try. Brown, black, red, white. When lightly toasted over heat (with oil) prior to boiling, it makes the final product light and fluffy – pilaf style. Rice that won’t stick together!

A simple rice dish paired with a crisp light raw salad, and your favorite condiment makes for tasty filling eating for pennies (unless you want to drop coin on something luxurious to top it with – totally your call!)

The search for truth is more precious than its possession.

~ Albert Einstein

Cumin Spiced Rice with Peas:

  • (1-2) tbsp butter, ghee, or vegetable oil
  • (1) tbsp cumin seeds
  • (1) cup white basmati rice
  • (1.75) cups cold water
  • (1) cup frozen green peas
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Heat a medium saucepan to medium heat and add butter, ghee, or oil. Once the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring the entire time, for about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn these by having them on too high heat!

*Note: if using this cooking method with other rices (most notably brown rice), the end result will be heavier. White basmati rice is ideal for this cooking style as it is naturally absorbent and fluffy – thus making it a light foil for heavier foods to go with it. If you do try it with brown rice, try using the lower amount of butter or oil.

Add the dry rice and cook, on the heat, stirring for about 5 minutes. The rice kernels will start to turn opaque and white. Be careful not to burn the rice by stirring pretty much every 10-15 seconds or so.

After 5 minutes, or the rice is consistently turning color (it will look flecky), add the cold water. Cover and bring to a boil on high. Once the water boils, turn the heat to low (without removing the lid), and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

During the last 7-8 minutes of the rice cooking time, add the peas and allow them to cook atop the rice as it cooks (do not stir). Simply open the lid quickly (have the peas pre-measured!) and pop them in as quickly as possible.

After 20 minutes is up, turn the heat off and let the rice sit in the covered pan for 3-4 minutes. Once ready, fluff the rice and peas together with a fork and add the salt. Voila!

Ready to serve straight from the pot or transfer to a serving bowl and take to the table! ๐Ÿ™‚

Brussels sprouts have been a long time fave of mine.

They are cheap, available (pretty much) year-round and boast the same health benefits as their other cruciferous family members (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and yes, KALE!). They are pretty much a superfood in every sense of the word, and I adore them for their underdog status as one of the most ‘disliked’ vegetables out there.

The truth is (IMO), they taste great roasted, steamed, and here, completely raw!

If you’ve never tried them this way, I highly suggest you do – this salad is light and delicious while providing a gorgeous fresh contrast to your cooked dishes. I also love this little number wrapped in my fresh tacos with a little avocado and salsa too….but that is another post entirely!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad:

  • (6-8) good sized fresh brussels sprouts
  • (2-3) tbsp good quality olive oil
  • (1-2) tbsp apple cider vinegar (can sub regular vinegar just reduce to 1 tbsp to start)
  • (1) tsp fresh finely grated ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro leaves for the top

Start by buying the freshest brussels sprouts you can find. These guys are basically baby cabbages, and I almost prefer eating these in a salad over cabbage – they take up so much less space in the fridge too!

Wash the sprouts and peal and discard any rough outer leaves. Starting at the top of the sprout, with the stem end down, use a sharp knife to shred/slice the brussels sprouts as thinly as possible, one by one, into rounds as thin as possible. Separate the ‘slices’ with your hands and to a bowl.

Toss with olive oil, vinegar, and ginger until well mixed – massage gently with your bare hands to ensure the shaved sprouts soften up a little. Taste to add salt.

Serve in a lovely dish garnished with cilantro leaves and optional black pepper. You might be surprised who eats this and likes it! It is a pretty good disguise for this much maligned little wonder ๐Ÿ™‚

Can you tell I am a big fan of the sprout? Love’em….

The past has no power over the present moment.

~ Eckhart Tolle

A word (or two) about condiments:

Having good condiments in the house can become a bit of a fun hobby. Anyone out there a bit of a condiment collector?

It’s easy to do and there are just too many ways to liven up simple healthy food that it is mind-boggling (including this chutney I cannot wait to make). Really!

When I eat spicy Indian food, I always order a round of cooling Raita (Indian Yoghurt Dip). If you eat yoghurt, chances are you could have a regular stock of plain yoghurt in the house on a regular basis.

Here is a 2 second condiment that can make a good meal (just a little) better. There are many ways to make a Raita, but here are a few suggestions to get you started!

Cucumber Raita:

  • (1) cup plain yoghurt (pictured here is super thick Mediteranean style)
  • (1/4) cup grated or finely chopped peeled cucumber
  • pinch or two of Garam Masala spice mix, or ground cumin (about 1/4 tsp)
  • salt to taste

Mix all together in a bowl until just mixed. Do not over mix if you can help it!

That’s it! Serve immediately and make it as needed – Raita will keep but only for a day or so in the fridge, so small batches are best ๐Ÿ™‚

Enjoy this meal with friends, family, or anyone you want to share it with..

with or without broiled naan bread.

Who says food has to be complicated or expensive to be good?

Simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world.

~ Oscar Wilde

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.

~ Lao Tzu

I know it is (perhaps) (just a little) corny, but when I think of sharing food, I often picture the world sitting around the table with me.

I picture wide smiles and hear happy sounds. This is why I cook food, and it brings so much joy to share it!

Live simply so that others may simply live.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Living with (just a little) less can be easy. Especially when it is this good!

I hope you’ll enjoy these ideas or use them as a launching pad to devise your own creations with these basic universal staples, and I’d love to hear your suggestions or favorite takes on the above.

This notion of sharing simple food is deep in the spirit of Not So Fast…the idea that there is enough food for all.

In the next week, I’ll tell you the story (and the results) of Carla and Chris’s 40 day trial of ‘going without’. I’ll tell you what they did, how they did it, and what it will mean to others (and yes they ate like kings the entire time!).

I can’t wait to share this with you all!

  • What is you favorite cheap staple or go to budget meal?
  • Do you have a favorite easy & frugal dish that is too good not to share?

I’d love your suggestions and they might just come in super handy in the future – so do let us know!

Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.

~ Albert Einstein

You know how much I adore your feedback and stories.

I wish you all could come and have a seat around my table……but for now I’ll be happy to receive your comments..…..even if I can’t see all your lovely smiles! ๐Ÿ™‚

Yours in Less,

91 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

On Mindfulness & Thoughts like Popcorn

Does anyone love popcorn as much as I do?

Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.

~ John Muir

Ever tried to meditate?

As in, sitting quietly, breathing mindfully (no where to go, nothing to do), clearing your mind of your thoughts? It’s a giant challenge, and one I don’t do often enough for sure.

Now imagine in that harried moment a boisterous loud popcorn popper, bubbling over with abundant, freshly popped (thoughts) and corn. Many of you might relate to this as we try to slow the pace of our minds, and the thoughts that keep ‘popping’ faster as we try harder to slow them down.

Eventually, if you sit long enough, those popcorn thoughts will slow down. Eventually, with practice, they do stop.

โ€œStress is caused by being in the now but wanting to be in the future, reducing the present to a means to an end.โ€

โ€“ The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

I don’t think I know a soul in this life who doesn’t benefit from taking some time to slow down, to breathe, and to simply be.

With that, I dedicate today’s post to popcorn, and to mindfulness.

Quiet. Peaceful. Present.

Pardon me for the (perhaps even slightly corny, okay, alot!) metaphoric post, but I couldn’t help it!

Popcorn is a long time personal favorite and I think it can help anyone wanting to practice mindfulness in a few small ways.

First of all, if you are an avid snacker, then it is likely you already know the virtues of being the proud and shrewd owner of a popcorn popper.

Last I checked, you can pick one up for about $20. Popcorn poppers don’t break, or require any cleaning, or take up any space (really) either.

They produce fresh, warm, and good-for-you popcorn in minutes.

Popcorn is literally the cheapest snack on earth – last I checked in it clocked at less than a quarter or so per large batch (to satisfy 2-3 people), and it also happens to be the healthiest, too.

โ€œBe happy for this moment. This moment is your life.โ€

โ€“ Omar Khayyรกm

So, if you love snacking, chances are you love popcorn (though I have met those who detest it).

Fresh popped is far superior to anything microwaved (in taste, economic, waste, and health factor), and also gives fried, salted, and over-processed snacks like bagged and boxed chips a serious run for their money.

So, if you don’t have a popper yet, they can be found easily at a bigger drug store, or cookshop.

I buy large bags of popcorn at a time a store it in a jar for easy access and scooping. My girls adore it, and so do I.

Many a meal has been made of popcorn, carrot sticks, and re-run marathons of Friends. Precisely why we *sometimes* look forward to the husband’s business trips.

But we don’t tell him that. We wouldn’t want to upset anyone now, would we?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hope is a waking dream.
~ Aristotle

The Less:

Less salted, fried, and packaged snacks, means less salt, oil, fat and empty, fattening foods in your life. Less worry about snacking means more enjoyment of those moments, and less guilt later about cravings, snacking, and eating in general. Less cost and less prep means snacking well is super easy, just breathe deep while it pops, and remember to stay present (or not).

The More:

More clean eating snack food means worry is banished. More tasty clean toppings means fresh flavor is abundant. More fresh homemade snack foods means the grocery snack aisles are history, and more high fiber popcorn means 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

Homemade Popcorn:

  • (1) electric Popcorn Popper
  • (1) scoop popcorn kernels (organic if possible)
  • (3-4) tbsp olive oil (feel free to also use melted butter)
  • sea salt to taste
  • other toppings to taste: nutritional yeast, chile powder, chile flakes, seasoning salt, black pepper, tamari, garlic powder…what are your faves?

Start by plugging in the popper and heating it for a minute or so to get it ready. Get a large clean bowl ready. Add the popcorn kernels, breathe deeply….exhale. Breathe deeply again……..exhale. Repeat until the popcorn starts popping! Add the oil in small bits as the popcorn comes out (yes, it is very interactive) – this will ensure even coating of all the kernels as best as you can.

Add your salt and seasonings as you add the oil. Once the thoughts, er, popcorn, are done cascading from the mouth of the popper, unplug and take one last mindful deep breath (or not).

Mix all with your hands. Choose your favorite show or movie, and enjoy!

Of course, if you don’t eat a lot of salt, or oil, or butter, you can eat popcorn completely naked too. It’s still delicious.

You can use one or all of these.

Sea salt,ย  nutritional yeast, olive oil.

โ€œFeelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.โ€

โ€• Thich Nhat Hanh

You can also try these: chili flakes, garlic powder, and seasoned salts of all kinds.

Another one of my favorite bloggers also tipped me off to one of her favorite childhood snacks a while back. I’ve yet to try this (mostly because I think it will be just too good), but she grew up enjoying cubes of sharp cheddar cheese cubes in her popcorn – thanks to Sharyn at thekalechronicles for that tip – one of these days I am surely trying that as the kids will love it, that I am sure!ย 

Have any of you enjoyed popcorn this way?

The power of imagination makes us infinite.

~ John Muir

Enjoy popcorn well, and revel in the simplicity of such an easy and economical way to scratch the snack itch.

After all that mindful deep breathing (or not), make sure to check in that you are not mindlessly scarfing the fruits of your labor. I think popcorn has an ever so valuable added layer of benefit for us – to make sure we are staying in the present moment long after the popper stops and we sit down eat it.

The present piece, the present bite, the present laugh.

I have observed this from years of popcorn eating experience, of course! ๐Ÿ˜‰

โ€œFew of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.โ€

โ€• Louis L’Amour

That was a moment (or two) well enjoyed.

โ€œThe real pleasure,the real peace, ย the real enlightenment is to give. The more you give the more you get. If you give 10, you get 100.โ€

โ€“ Bikram Choudhury

  • Are you a popcorn fan too?
  • What are your favorite popcorn toppings?
  • How do you meditate or stay mindful?

I’d love to share with you on this as it is a matter very dear to me (both popcorn and mindfulness), I’m always looking for ways to improve my ability to practice and enjoy both!

Let us know and share your tips if you will! Here’s wishing you all a super wonderful weekend!

Yours in Less,

70 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Children, Cooking, Family, Food, Lifestyle, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Fierce French Lentil Salad

The only way to improve a lentil is to make it (just a little) fierce & French!

โ€œThe only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.โ€
โ€• Socrates

Greetings fine blogging friends!

I’m back home after a brief business trip to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (a fancy way of saying Calgary).

I have returned home to a few new blooms in the garden and dare I say….just a tiny bit of a tan on my face?!! Okay, that might be stretching it a (just a little) but I did spend a couple of days in the warm Prairie sun – it was pretty sweet ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s always extra-super-amazing to be back home, no matter how long I leave for.

โ€œUnless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.โ€

โ€• Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

In keeping with my last post (and a few before that I think!), here is one of my favorite go-to cold protein salad recipes. I hesitate to call it a recipe, as it’s more just a food I love, and a food I fall back on time and time again.

More lentils! But not just any old lentils.

I am talking about French lentils, or Puy lentils as they are also called (they originally came from Puy, France). Those of you who read this blog regularly might just say I have been training for France my entire adult life – which is about as long as I’ve been enjoying these deliciously sophisticated legumes!!

Not exactly the French countryside, but every once in a while it's fun to pretend. This view is right up the street from my house in the city. Doesn't it look quaint?

โ€œCount your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.โ€

โ€• John Lennon

It could be hard to find these in some parts of the world, and I’ve always found them successfully in health food or organic grocery stores. A suitable substitute would be ‘Beluga’ lentils, also black and a little plumper.

I have read that French lentils take longer to cook than other lentils, which I have never found to be the case – it could be because I steam them, instead of boiling them (which for me always turns this kind to mush).

Does anyone else do this too?

I can’t tell you where I learned this from, or how I learned it, because I honestly don’t remember – but what I can tell you is it makes them ridiculously good!

Let’s get to this fierce salad, shall we? Yes!

โ€œI can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. โ€

โ€• Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The Less:

Less boiling in hot water means more in-tact nutrition in your final product. Less canned beans and lentils means more texture, and less waste, recycling, and cost. Less heavy & starchy beans means a lighter feeling in your tummy, and less heavy tummies means more light smiles and happy times – and (maybe) (just a little) less gas. Good, right?

The More:

More high fiber legumes means more roughage in your system. More rich protein and satisfaction means you need to eat less to get full. More yummy textures and flavors mean more variety and substance. More taste and versatility means you can serve these to anyone – even if they aren’t lentil lovers (yet!).

Fierce French Lentil Salad:

  • (1) cup French lentils or Puy lentils (can sub Beluga lentils)
  • (1) pint grape tomatoes,ย roasted (or 1/2 cup thinly sliced or chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil)
  • (1/2) cup green onions
  • (3) tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • (2) tbsp red wine vinegar
  • (1) tsp salt (or to taste)
  • (1/2) cup roasted almond slivers or blanched sliced almonds
  • (1/2) cup cubes of feta cheese (optional)
  • fresh black pepper

The Lentils:

The trick here is to soak the lentils at least 12 hours. I usually put up a bowl to soak over night and cook them in the morning or the following evening.

Combine the lentils with lots of cold water and soak. When ready to cook, drain the lentils and rinse in a colander with plenty of cold water. Put the lentils into a vegetable steamer with enough water to last long enough to boil 25-30 minutes. Bring to a boil, once the steam water is boiling, turn the heat to medium-high and cook, covered for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. You can test them by tasting or squashing one between your fingers – it should crush easily, but you don’t want it to be mush either.

Once the lentils are done (soft but firm), transfer them to a bowl to cool. After about 5 minutes, add the olive oil and salt (you can also add the vinegar at this stage) to the still warm/hot lentils – this allows the oil and salt to soak into each lentil’s individual little soul, infusing it with yummy depth and fierce flavor!

From here, you can store the lentils in the fridge until you want to use them. Or, proceed with the following steps!

The Tomatoes:

If you are using roasted grape tomatoes, rinse the tomatoes in water and drain. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the tomatoes in a tbsp of olive oil or so and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place on a flat oiled sheet, and roast the tomatoes until wrinkly – anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. They should be black a little on the bottom. Remove and cool on the pan before transferring to a bowl.

This step can be done well in advance – I often buy ‘cast-offs’ from the produce section of wrinkly tomatoes that are too old to eat fresh. They are usually dirt cheap and I roast them and keep them in the fridge. Delicious on sandwiches or on top of a salad or roasted veggies – even on pasta with capers!

The Nuts:

Roast the nuts by placing them dry on a flat cookie sheet in the oven. Roast at 350 degrees for about 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant and turning brown.

Roasted almonds are the family favorite and we have a bowl of them in the kitchen pretty much all the time. The kids love them, the husband loves them, guests love them. I often toast up a few cups and use them at dinner.

Leftovers are brilliant on breakfast cereals or Mediterranean yoghurt in the morning with hemp hearts & maple syrup ๐Ÿ™‚

To create the salad, combine the oiled & salted cooked (and cooled) lentils in a bowl with the nuts, green onions, and optional feta. If you are using sun-dried tomatoes, add them when you mix as well. For the roasted tomatoes, add these to the top of the mixture in the serving bowl(s) just before serving.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.โ€

โ€• Theodore Roosevelt

This dish (or a version of this dish) is a fabulous picnic salad or addition to a summer potluck. Served with greens, fresh baguette or crackers, and a glass of French wine, the only thing better would be, well, being in France! ๐Ÿ™‚

โ€œBe yourself; everyone else is already taken.โ€

โ€• Oscar Wilde

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.โ€

โ€• George Bernard Shaw

A classic shot of T and me on my first trip to Paris, summer of 2010.

Getting out there into the big big world helps us to appreciate coming home (just a little) more, and I always come home (just a little) more thankful for all the relationships I am so lucky to be a participant in.

Whether it is the friendships and connections forged on the road or the smiles on the kids faces when you walk in the door (yes – even after one night away – lucky me!), interactions with others are always an extraordinarily special gift.

It’s a good life, indeed. Isn’t it?

Thanks to all of you who continue to read and support this (little) blog – your comments always make my day, no matter where I am!

โ€œIt is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.โ€

โ€• Albert Einstein

  • What’s your favorite potluck summer salad?
  • Have you a favorite lentil variety or recipe to share with us?

Let us know! I hear there is a sweet vegan potluck coming up (click the link for more info over at an unrefined vegan), it’s time to start planning contributions!

I can’t wait to see what we are all bringing to the table, and a giant thanks to Ann at AUV for bringing it all together and for all the inspiration!

Yours in Less,

59 Comments

Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Sesame Seaweed Gomashio

Time to lighten up!

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

~ Leo Tolstoy

Lighten up you say?

Yes, friends, it’s time to lighten up (just a little) here at the world IPOM headquarters!

It’s been a really great few months since this little blog began. Actually, let’s get real, it’s been a phenomenally fun few months for this girl – sharing recipes and thoughts on food and life has been a wonderful experience so far, one that has been made rich by all of you!

A moment of gratitude by an old barn - one to remember! Namaste!

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Now, I’d love to have you all believe that I am truly pleased with myself at every given moment.

Truly I would!

But that would just not be right, or even close to accurate, now would it?

The real deal is that after a long dreary west coast winter, I’m feeling (just a little) more ‘well fed’ than I’d like.

You know all this cooking inevitably leads to eating – which IS (of course) a good thing – but I know my body well enough to know when it’s time for an ever so slight re-calibration.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Just like a barista whose espresso is running (just a little) too fast, I’ll be tightening up the grind a little to reach that sweet spot that makes the coffee (along with the body and soul) sing.

Of course, the body is most certainly not an espresso machine, or a few grams of coffee beans – but I do like to think it’s a whole lot simpler than that.

โ€œKnowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.โ€

โ€• Aristotle

We'll be there in no time!

You won’t see any dramatic or drastic measures of any kind here, even though that is most certainly in my nature to do (which is precisely the reason I won’t do it).

Instead I’ll be cutting back (just a little) and making small changes that are sustainable. It’s that time of year anyway!

โ€œTrue life is lived when tiny changes occur.โ€

~ Leo Tolstoy

So with that, I’ll be posting the same healthy recipes and sharing the same good eats as always.

I’ll be eating (and sharing) a lot more salads. Come the season, fresh fruits will play a much bigger role too. Watermelon will once again become a household staple (it always is in the summer when it’s cheap and sweet).

It’s time to put away the soup pots and the casserole dishes, and bring out the salad graters and dusty popsicle sticks. (It is almost summer after all).

Prepare for the summer spreads..

Today I will start with a simple healthy recipe to top your green salads with.

This recipe with Japanese roots has been a household staple in my family since I was young, and my mom still has it on her dinner table every night. Sprinkle it on everything from salad to brown rice to pasta, and you’ve got protein, minerals, calcium, and loads of flavor easily at hand.

โ€œThose who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.โ€

~ George Bernard Shaw

The Less:

Less overly salty condiments means less sodium in the diet overall. Less store-bought toasted seeds means more fresh oils that aren’t rancid from lingering on a shelf. Less store-bought anything means more pennies in your wallet, and less waste, packaging, and less than clean karma to boot.

The More:

More seaweed in your diet means more fine minerals in your blood. More sesame means more calcium too. More home toasted seeds means more flavor and freshness, and more healthy condiments on hand make sprucing up meals a breeze.

Sesame Seaweed Gomashio:

  • (1) cup un-toasted sesame seeds (Japanese tradition says use un-hulled, but either is great)
  • (1) small handful of Dulse seaweed (about 1/4-1/3 cup)
  • (1) tsp sea salt, ground fine (optional)

Start by heating a non stick or cast iron pan on medium heat until warm. Add the seeds and stir. Tear the dulse piece into smaller pieces and add to the seeds while they continue to warm up.

Stirring frequently, toast the dulse and seeds together for 5-7 minutes on medium-high heat. They are done when fragrant, turning brown, and the sesame seeds start popping here and there!

Remove from heat and let cool a little. Transfer to a hand blender with a grinding attachment, a food processor, and grind.

Growing up my mom had a hand grinder (one of those old metal ones that attached to the edge of the counter). I remember grinding gomashio on a regular basis as part of our kitchen duties. I always think one day I will get one of those.

Sesame seeds are a vegetarian’s best friend (unless for some reason you are intolerant).

High in calcium and protein, these little nutritious dynamos pack a flavor punch.

Used often in Japanese and Asian foods, they add a wonderful flavor to the simplest of foods.

โ€œI’ve got nothing to do today but smile.โ€

โ€• Simon and Garfunkel

Sea vegetables also pack a highly beneficial list of nutrients for our bodies that are hard to get.

Loaded with minerals from the sea like iodine, they are naturally salty and especially tasty when toasted.

Added to traditional gomashio, they add a fleck of lovely color and natural salty flavor, so the additional salt is totally optional here.

โ€œCount your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.โ€

โ€• John Lennon

Gomashio can also be used as a condiment for macrobiotic eating – which is a wonderfully gentle way of approaching food and one I often gravitate towards when I feel the need to fine tune.

โ€œLife belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changesโ€

โ€• Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This tasty add on to your meals compliments with amazing flavor and texture on a basic green salad, a steamed veggie bowl, or just plain cooked rice or quinoa.

โ€œTo improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.โ€

โ€• Winston S. Churchill

Can't wait for these summer sunsets (under a full moon no less)

So with that dear friends, I’m looking forward to getting on with getting on!

With so many fresh local foods to look forward to here in this part of the world, it couldn’t be a better time.

  • Are you making any adjustments to your routine in prep for summer?
  • How do you re-calibrate?

I’d love to hear how you are celebrating (and preparing for) the oncoming season.

I’m off for a few days traveling for work – I’ll be blog stalking from the road but my comments may be (just a little) sparse – rest assured I’ll be back in just a few days though!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend – thanks (as always) for stopping by!

Yours in Less,

39 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Health, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Lively Yellow Potato Salad

You’ve got to love anything this comfortable in its own skin.

“Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.”

– Lao-Tzu

Holla bloggers!

Welcome to another springy post! I’ve got to tell you (though it’s still a little cool), it’s pretty sweet here when the sun is out!

The patio furniture is coming out this weekend and the new garden topsoil has (finally) settled. Even the outdoor hockey net is out in the lane again and I can hear the sounds of balls hitting the garage doors in my neighborhood on weeknights.

Life is (at last) happening all around, folks are getting outside, and spring is in full swing.

Oh my! It’s a good thing!

Spring brings with it the promise of summer, and warm evenings spent outside. With that, comes time for warm weather sides and salads, either to accompany the barbecue (for the carnivorous hubby) or just to have as they are (my way).

“We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

– Cesare Pavese

Here is a lively potato salad to start the season of outdoor living featuring my favorite – the humble (and often maligned) potato!

As a vegetarian (who eats little dairy and at times none), I’ve always been (just a little) saddened at the (IMO) unfair rap that poor old potatoes get from many fad diet doctrines out there.

These little gems that grow in even the poorest of soil are amazingly nutritious (especially the skins), easily available and totally dirt cheap considering some of the other foods we buy to eat well. High in easily digested healthy carbs, potatoes are filling, tasty, and super versatile.

Happiness is making the most of what you have.

-Rosamunde Pilcher

Bake them, steam them, roast them. Grate them, fry them (not my fave), or even dehydrate them (I once tried them as raw potato chips in my raw days – they were actually okay!).

Here is a healthy way to enjoy these gluten-free darlings – without all the high-fat dairy-based toppings commonly associated with potatoes – this was a big hit at the office this week!

Now let’s get to the heart of this post!

The skins are super nutritious, so leave them on! Do try to buy organic if you can - but don't stress too much about it either!

The Less:

Less fried or over-processed potatoes means cleaner, more honest nutrition. Less mayo-based dressings means less fat and less clutter in your food. Less packaged or store-bought picnic food means less packaging at (way) less cost. Less costly food means more money in your pocket, and that’s a sweet feeling for sure.

The More:

More potato based eating means more vegetable based carbs so putting them where your body needs them is a snap. More cold salads means set up is a snap, just grab it from the fridge and go! More fresh veggies to dress them means more color and crunch, so you can settle in to your summer with style.

Lively Yellow Potato Salad:

Veggies:

  • 6 cups yellow flesh potatoes, chopped with skin on (about 2.5#)
  • (1) bunch dill, chopped
  • (1) red pepper, chopped
  • (1) 398ml can artichoke hearts (5 each)
  • (1/2) cup red onion

Dressing:

  • (1/4) cup good olive oil
  • (2) tbsp red wine vinegar (add more to taste)
  • (1-2) tsp sea salt
  • (1) tbsp good prepared mustard
  • (1) tbsp sugar (any kind you like – feel free to add more if you use extra vinegar)
  • Fresh pepper if desired

Start by combining the chopped potatoes in a pot with a little water (about 2 cups). Put them up to boil in the water by bringing to a boil with the lid on. Once boiling, turn the heat to medium low and cook, covered, for 12-15 minutes, or until pricked easily with a fork.

While the potatoes cook, chop dill, pepper, and red onion and add to a large mixing bowl.

Drain your artichokes and cut by first quartering them lengthwise, then cutting the quarters horizontally to get slightly smaller pieces. Add to the bowl along with the other veggies.

Next, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk together until combined (and gorgeous). Is there anyone else out there that gets excited by this stuff?

Gosh, sometimes I feel like a real nerd…

Once the potatoes are soft and ready, drain them in a colander and let sit for a minute or two to cool and shed excess liquid from the boiling process.

Transfer the hot spuds to a separate mixing bowl and allow to cool an additional 3-4 minutes or so. The reason for this is to get the potatoes to the most optimal temperature for soaking up the dressing.

If you add the dressing too soon, the potatoes will soak it up too quickly and the heat can affect the flavor of the dressing. By allowing them to cool only slightly, you get a potato that is still warm (but no too hot).

When the potatoes are only steaming slightly and you can touch them with your hands for a few seconds comfortably (about 3-4 minutes after cooking), add the dressing and mix. Allow the potatoes to sit in the dressing and soak it all up another 5 minutes while they cool a little further.

Once they are only slightly warm, toss in the large bowl with the waiting chopped raw veggies and dill.

Mix gently to evenly distribute! Wonderful!

Serve as is straight out of the mixing bowl or transfer to a clean serving dish.

A gorgeous salad to take to a summer potluck – a totally refreshing and zesty take on traditional cold potato salad, sans mayonnaise or dairy of any kinds!

For those who eat eggs, I would serve this salad with classic deviled eggs and a green salad for a perfect summer meal. This is also great as a side to any protein dish.

Live each day as if your life had just begun.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It’s great with olives too, and a side of extra smiles.

That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.

– Thoreau

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

– Anais Nin

Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting on the last post. It was great to hear from all of you runners, yogis, cyclists, swimmers, and walkers! It does a heart good to hear your stories and especially those of you who might be trying something new – I’d love to hear how you make out!

“In seeking happiness for others, you find it for yourself.”

~ Anonymous

Here’s to new recipes and new experiences!

Whether it is a new food, a new friend, or a new activity, starting something new is always a thrill.

One this girl never gets tired of ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Did you try something new this week?
  • What is your favorite way to enjoy potatoes (if at all)?

You know how much I adore hearing from you all, wishing you a wonderful day!

Yours in Less,

61 Comments

Filed under Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

The Less & More of Running (more or less)

A little change of pace is always welcome here.

If I’m free, it’s because I’m always running.

~ Jimi Hendrix

Ready to talk a little moving IPOM style?

When it comes to exercise, the preferred approach (in this girl’s humble corner of the world) is just this:

Moderately everyday instead of obsessively now and then

With all the pressure we face in life to be constantly awesome (mostly put on our own selves by our own selves) – it can be easy for some of us to fall into traps.

Traps of thinking if we aren’t 100% clean eating, we fail, or traps of thinking if we aren’t the best at something we shouldn’t do it.

Obsessing over perfection is just silly, and it’s always better to do something good than to not.

Since physical results are always cumulative (resulting from regular habits), I can’t stress enough how key adopting this philosophy has been for me personally in as many areas of my life as possible (and trust me it does not come naturally).

Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.

~ Nelson Mandela

This is not me (But it could be). Well, sort of.

With all the wonderful fitness choices available out there, I settled long ago on my one true fitness love.

Yes, it’s running!

And no, I am not hardcore like the crazy guys pictured here (really, not at all).

I don’t race (not to say I am against it). I don’t run with headphones, or even with a clock or a watch. It’s just me, my thoughts, the road ahead, and whatever time I have to get out there. So I try to make the most of it. The important thing is to do it as often as I can.

But enough about me.

All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.

~ James Thurber

You could just stumble upon this...

Regardless of the time you have, or the day you’ve had, it’s really just about starting.

If you regularly have a tough time just getting out, try my girlfriends brilliant ‘5 minute rule’: tell yourself you’ll do it for just 5 minutes – once you are out there all warmed up and breathing that fresh air – see where you go, it’s never back home ๐Ÿ™‚

So if you are a seasoned runner, someone who’s never run, or someone who’s even just thinking about it, here is the less and more of running IPOM style – I’d love to see what you have to add to this!

The Less:

Less Time: Despite what anyone says (“I don’t have time!”)….you absolutely can get a good cardio workout in just 20 minutes. Seriously folks! 20 minutes! Where else do you get that kind of a return on your time? Factor in 3 minutes to change, 20 seconds to tie your shoes, and you are in business as soon as you cross your doorstep.

Less Money: A pair of decent running shoes costs about $60 and up. Add a pair of shorts, a sports bra (for us ladies), and an old rock t-shirt (I don’t run in one but I have always wanted to) and out the door you go! No membership fees, no classes. No driving, no gas. Less cost for more benefit. Less is oh so much more here.

Less Constraints: Go anytime. Anywhere. Go when you are traveling (a fabulous way to see a foreign city). You choose. No late starts, no classmates. No worries. Less dependence. Less pressure. Just lace up and go! It’s free to try, and best of all, if you like it, it’s free to keep going too!

Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.

~ Og Mandino

The More:

More Cardio: Moving at your own pace means you set the tone. Climbing a hill while running is a real achievement, so work into it. Power walker? You are half way there already. It’s all good, so go slow, and don’t stop – just find your pace (even if you do feel like a turtle at first) and settle in.

More Meditation: Every runner’s got their reasons why they are hooked. Mine is in the meditation. Every step in the cold air is a sun salutation. Every thought processed, every step forward, I can work it all out. The ‘zone’ is the best zen feeling I’ve ever found, and it’s one that lasts throughout the rest of the day, and seeps into all areas of life. Namaste!

More Leanness: All good cardio promotes lean muscle development and the cardio burns lots of fuel.

Fresh air in your cells means more oxygen flowing so they can do more dirty work. Strong muscles means better efficiency.

More Strength: More strength means more power and more power means, well, more power to do the things you really love!

More Freedom: You can go wherever you feel moved. Wherever, whenever. Like walking (also a fave), all you need is you, a few minutes, and a will to go. Let your feet do the rest! No special gear, no vehicle. No company necessary (unless you want it).

More Scenery: See the world on foot! Anywhere you go, the world awaits.

More Confidence: This is the real deal. When you set your mind to running, there is no feeling like the finish. Knowing that you can, and you will, is (IMO) just about the best feeling in the world. It’s a gift you can give yourself every single day!

More fresh Air. More time just for you.

Gear is important, but not THAT important. I recently cleared out my ‘gear box’ and got rid of about 80% of what I had in there (part of my spring clean). But there are one or two very important essentials, starting with a good supportive sports bra (unless you are a dude in which case you are all good).

The greatest step is out the door

~ German Proverb

A good athletic top or two is nice. You want something light, that you can really sweat in.

Cotton is okay, but there is some great technical stuff out there, and really, one is all you need.

It’s worth it, no matter what sport you do in it.

Of course, if you want to be (just a little) bad-ass, wear a cool rock t-shirt. I’ve always wanted to do that ๐Ÿ˜‰

There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps.

~ Peter A. Cohen

Then there are the shoes. Yes – the shoes! There are lots of different philosophies on shoes. I am not an expert, so make sure to buy comfy ones from a decent brand.

There are even folks doing this completely barefoot these days..

What do you prefer?

Call me simple, but running is the reason I don’t get on skis (never mind I am not a fan of the cold snow)…give me a snowy trail, a good fleece jacket, and an hour and I am happy as a clam!

There are folks who have trouble running, whether it is hard on the knees or just not your thing. Thankfully, there is no end to the ways we can care for our bodies.

It just matters that we do.

  • Are you a runner?
  • Got any tips you’d like to share?
  • What is your favorite way to stay fit?

Whatever gets you there..

Begin to be now what you will be hereafter.

~ William James

I’d love to hear your thoughts on fitness and how you get outdoors. The best things in life really are free, and I can’t think of anything better than fresh, cool air. (Just a little) everyday is all takes!

Let us know your thoughts friends, and as always, much gratitude and thanks for reading!

I hope you all are having a fabulous day – our next post – a fabulous potato salad!

Yours in Less,

82 Comments

Filed under Aspirations, Cheap, discipline, Fitness, Happiness, Health, Hope, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Success, Vegan, Victory

Recipe: Light Peach & Banana Smoothie

Welcome to the week friends!

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Hello all! Hoping you all had a wonderful weekend!

We spent some time doing some more spring cleaning – and by that I mean mostly me. It was time to (finally) get to a closet project I’d been dreaming of for a while (but hadn’t the courage to tackle).

So I did it…and (seriously)……it feels just as good as I thought it would!

Donโ€™t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.

– Robert Louis Stevenson.

Today is also the first anniversary of the day I woke up and started something new – the idea for Not So Fast was officially born a year ago today. My how time flies!

It is wonderful to see the journey that has emerged from starting this blog (and this super fun project). It is one of true community – and THAT my friends is a (very) beautiful thing – so thank you (truly) for the support, appreciation, & the sharing & sheer inspiration that overflows from this wonderful blogging community!

You all amaze me. Truly, you do!!

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

โ€“ Helen Keller.

So, let’s get to this yummy smoothie now, shall we?

The More:

More fresh fruit to start the day means more simple natural sugars to get you going. More bananas (from fair trade farms) means more good hearty nutrition with minimal calories and heaviness. More blended goodness means digesting is a snap – so lightness is yours for the day!

The Less:

Less sweets and extras in your smoothies means simple ingredients on hand are all you need. Less of the fancy stuff means ingredients are attainable and cheap – so you can get more for less – and feel great doing it!

Light Peach & Banana Smoothie:

  • (2) bananas, fresh or frozen
  • (1) cup peaches, frozen or fresh (you can also sub nectarines)
  • (3-4) dates, pitted
  • (1- 1.5) cups almond milk
  • (4-6) ice cubes
  • cinnamon or cardamom to sprinkle on top (optional)
  • a lovely cinnamon stick to dress up the glass (optional too of course!)

Combine all of the ingredients in your blender and blend on high until frothy and beautiful. Feel free to add more almond milk or water as needed to get the mixture rolling.

Enjoy on your deck (in a clean mason jar maybe ๐Ÿ™‚ ) with a good book, view, or just one or two quiet moments to yourself.

The best things in life aren’t things.

~ Art Buchwald

Be helpful. When you see a person without a smile, give them yours

โ€“ Zig Ziglar

Me and my little inspiration...

With all this nice weather – smoothie season is about to kick in to high gear – I am getting giddy just thinking about it!

Here is a quote that I found particularly awesome this weekend:

Life is not about weathering the storm….it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

  • What smoothies are you loving these days?
  • Got any tips on how to dance in the rain?

Let’s get moving, shall we? I am already…

๐Ÿ™‚

Yours in Less,


70 Comments

Filed under Food, Gluten Free, Happiness, Not So Fast, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Quinoa Cauliflower Tabbouleh

Fresh perspective is always a (very) good thing.

โ€œIf we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.โ€

~ Mother Teresa

Getting fresh perspective isn’t always the easiest thing. Ever heard of tunnel vision (I sure have!)?

With so many fixed elements in place in our lives it can be difficult to break out of our routine, or look at life through a different lens, never mind through new eyes. Well, it’s Monday, friends – and here’s to the start of a brand new week!

"This is an interesting perspective." At Moma, NYC

With spring here, we feel the urge to renew, and refresh. For me, this recipe represents an opportunity I recently got to do just that!

I was delighted to open my email last week to find a fresh recipe sent just for me courtesy of a favorite blogger – the quirky and extremely clever writer and (dare I say) curator of This Sydney Life.

I simply adore tabbouleh (reminds of potlucks in the 80’s), with its minty freshness and light airy vibes, and this recipe has a twist that honestly knocked my socks off. It’s just so darned fresh!

So I simply had to share it.

โ€œYou are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.โ€

~ Albert Camus

Fresh takes on old ideas are what makes the world go around according to my favorite clever & inspirational writer Paul Arden in his book “Whatever You Think Think The Opposite”.

So with that, I’ll get right to it – let the celebration begin!

The Less:

Less wheat-based tabbouleh means those with sensitivities can enjoy their favorite fresh-flavored dish. Less focus on the grain as the main ingredient means a lighter experience all around. Less wondering what to do for your next potluck makes planning a snap – because this dish is a winner!

The More:

More cabbage family veggies in the diet mean more disease fighting properties in your foods. More fresh herbs and green leafy veggies means more ways to win without growing bored. More zesty citrus, sweet dried fruits, and bold nutty flavors mean more satisfying tastes for your taste buds. More sharing is good, especially when it’s done among friends.

Cauliflower Tabbouleh:

  • (1) small head cauliflower, washed & cut into small florets
  • (1 and 3/4) cups water
  • (1) cup quinoa, dry
  • (1) bunch cilantro (about one cup chopped)
  • (1) bunch Italian flat leaf parsley (about 2 cups chopped)
  • (1) bunch mint (about one cup chopped)
  • (1/2) to (1) cup walnuts, chopped & toasted
  • (1/2) – (3/4) cup dried cranberries (or to your preference)
  • (2-3) tbsp olive oil
  • (2-3) tbsp of juice from one large lemon & zest
  • (1) tsp salt or to taste

Cook quinoa by combining the grain with the water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn heat to low (without raising the lid) and cook for 20 minutes. Once finished, remove lid and fluff with a fork while it cools in the pot.

Wash and cut the cauliflower into small florets, saving the stem part for soup (or include it if you prefer). Chop to a 1-2 inch dice. This will produce 4-6 cups of chopped cauliflower.

Cook cauliflower in boiling salted water or in a steamer for 6-8 minutes until tender. Drain and rinse quickly with cold water to cool.

Chop the walnuts and toast either in a dry pan over medium high heat (stirring constantly) or in the oven until brown and fragrant. About 6-8 minutes in a 350 degree oven should do the trick!

Zest half the lemon on a fine grater and juice the lemon afterwards. Add to a large mixing bowl along with the cooked quinoa & cauliflower, cranberries, walnuts, olive oil and salt. Gently toss everything to combine.

Next, wash your bounty of gloriously fragrant herbs under cold water and shake any excess water. Chop them all up and throw them in too – this is BY FAR the most wonderful part of this recipe!

Stir everything together and enjoy! This dish will keep in the fridge at least a few days. I served it the first time this week with these millet burgers and a nice green salad. Wonderful!

If an idea’s worth having once, it’s worth having twice.

~ Tom Stoppard

What was wonderful to me was my frame of mind when I first made this – normally I would chop my herbs super fine – but given the amounts of greens and the presence and size of the cauliflower in this recipe, it was liberating and totally refreshing to chop the herbs like I would for a salad – the original recipe called for cup measurements which worked out to roughly a bunch of each of the 3 stars of this dish.

I’ll let you be the judge as to how you’d tackle this, and I sure would love to know!

I simply delighted in this recipe. The smells of the herbs (mint lovers heaven!) – and the combo and the sheer amounts of the 3 thrilled not only my senses but those I have (already) shared it with (I’ve now made it twice).

Cooking and sharing is but one small way we can open ourselves up to outside views, totally fresh perspectives we would otherwise miss.

Thanks to all you bloggers and readers (and dare I say friends!) out there, there is a world of endless possibilities out there…just waiting…

This is one perspective I am happy to build in to the lens kit. I’ve a feeling it just might end up in yours too!

The only way to have a friend is to be one.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

So a very well deserved and huge thanks to my lovely new friend for the share (I’ve yet to try the other delicious sounding recipe but hey, I picked up 2, yes 2, castoff bags of perfectly ripe mangoes yesterday!)!
As always I am casting out a giant wave of appreciation for all of you who visit this site and join the conversation. I’ve a lovely line up for you this week so stay tuned, and I hope you all had a super fabulous weekend!
  • What do you do to get fresh perspective?
  • How do you awaken your senses?
  • Are you a tabbouleh fan too?

I’ve a feeling if you aren’t yet, you will be now ๐Ÿ™‚

Yours in Less,

46 Comments

Filed under Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Red Lentil Vegetable Curry

Happy Monday Everyone!

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.

~ Albert Einstein

I hope you all had a truly fab weekend soaking up the spring sun and taking it all in!

As for us, we’ve got a new layer of topsoil in the garden and a clean fresh outlook – here’s to the new season…and Easter coming up!

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

~ Seneca

Today’s post is (once again) dedicated to the simple easy pleasures in life. Healthy food made delicious by the addition of simple (and rich) spices!

A vegetarian’s palette of inspiration is only as limited as the spice cupboard, and inexpensive staples can go from pretty meh to pretty mean in a few seconds with (just a little) bit of spice.

Indian spices in particular are so wonderfully varied, it’s almost impossible to go wrong with combos (but it can be done) – and there are a few easy ones that everyone should be familiar with.

They would be (for me): cumin (both ground and seeds), ginger, turmeric, black mustard seeds, coriander, garam masala (so many kinds!), cardamom..there are a few others – what are your classic faves?

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

~ Confucius

There are so many different spices to name but I’ve always had good luck preparing delicious veggie curries and bean dishes out of the ones listed above. They are known for being widely beneficial to digestion, and gentle and calming for the soul (maybe that part is just for me – anyone else?).

Side Note: Here in Vancouver – home to one of North America’s most widely celebrated Indian restaurants (Vij’s) – we are lucky to have a few high quality haunts (from budget to high-end) to frequent for a taste of the real thing. My recent (1st!) trip to London also brought me to Brick Lane, which was a very special experience, and I’ll never forget my 1st taste of that delicious lime pickle…amazing!

Alas, I don’t think a trip to India will ever be in the cards for me (but never say never), and I would never consider my home cooking a substitution for the real thing……but it isn’t all that hard, and cooking this way is:

Delicious, cheap, and good for you.

Straight up!

The Less:

Less complicated ingredients means you are more likely to make this. Less canned or jarred spice mixtures mean cleaner, simpler food. Less cream and animal based curries means lighter, cheaper meals. Less heavy beans means your body might not mind eating these (especially if you are sensitive to beans and legumes).

The More:

More flavorful vegetarian dishes in your repertoire means more yummy foods to cook often. More vibrantly colored food means more visual pleasure for your senses. More ginger and spices means more help for digestion. More cheap dinners means more money for other things. Straight up and simple, this dish a classic.

Red Lentil Vegetable Curry:

  • (2) tbsp olive oil, canola oil, or ghee
  • (2) tbsp black mustard seeds
  • (1) onion chopped (about one heaping cup)
  • (2) tsp salt
  • (2) tsp turmeric
  • (2) tsp cumin
  • (2) tbsp fresh chopped or grated ginger
  • (3) carrots, chopped (about one heaping cup)
  • (2) medium potatoes (about one heaping cup)
  • (1.5) cups canned diced tomatoes (1 398ml can)
  • (1) cup red lentils
  • (4) cups water
  • (1) lemon
  • black pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

The trick with this style of cooking is to have all of your spices ready and veggies chopped and ready to go.

Everything happens pretty quickly and even for experienced cooks it’s difficult to be prepping and measuring while the cameras are rolling. So be ready!

In a medium large pot, heat the oil on medium high. When hot, add the black mustard seeds and stir until they start to pop – don’t leave the stove – this takes about 30 seconds only!

Once the little seeds start dancing (and popping!), add the chopped onion and salt and cook, stirring about 5-6 minutes, or until golden. Add ginger and remaining dry spices and cook, stirring for one minute on medium heat. When spices are fragrant, add tomato and stir all well for about a minute or two until well integrated.

Hang tight – now you can almost step away….

Add lentils, chopped vegetables and water and stir all to well combine. Bring to a light boil on medium-high with the lid on. Once boiling temperature has been reached, turn the heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently to prevent the lentils from prevent sticking to bottom of the pot.

Once ready, add the juice of lemon. Simple, zesty, and ready to serve!

Serve with ground pepper, a dash of butter or olive oil, plenty of freshly ground pepper and chopped fresh cilantro – don’t forget the side of rice if desired and buttery naan bread too!

This will get more delicious the longer it sits in your fridge and I highly recommend making it a day before you serve it. I’ve been making this curry as long as I’ve been cooking it seems – it never gets tired, and it’s always incredible!

So there you have it! An easy dinner on a cold night, or a starter to a great Indian meal.

I’ve got a bit of this leftover and I am thinking tonight’s dinner may just consist of a bowl of curry..straight up and simple.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

~ Dalai Lama

On another (slightly ironic and very sad) side note – we went to go for said Indian last night at our families favorite budget haunt here in town, only to find it had been destroyed by a fire!

Now we’re on the hunt for a new budget favorite – can’t wait to see what we find – and I hope they re-build and wish them well…lots of great memories and gratitude were had at that delicious place ๐Ÿ™‚

How about you?

  • What are your favorite curry dishes with lentils?
  • Got any spices we should all add to the list?

I hope you are all starting a wonderful week – anyone tried the recipes for the Sweet Life Chews or Lively Cilantro Sauce?

I’d love to know how they turned out. Drop us a line – we’ll be so happy you did!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Family, Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian