Sweet coconut lentils

This recipe has a wonderful (and short) list of ingredients that just drew me in.  I had to try it, although I couldn’t imagine just how it would taste.  I mean- sweet dates, creamy lentils, and savory onion…?  Really?  But I did try it, and it was good.  It was a strange thing for me to eat a sweet dish as a side, but it was lovely nonetheless.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 pound lentils

1 cup pitted dates, chopped

2 teaspoons tamari

1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Directions:

  • In a large frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat
  • Add the onion and cook until it’s soft and beginning to brown
  • Stir in the ginger and turmeric and cook for a minute
  • Add 6 cups of water, lentils and dates and bring to a boil
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for half an hour
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • When the lentils have simmered, stir in the tamari and transfer the mixture to a baking dish
  • Cover and bake for 30 minutes
  • Uncover, top the baked mixture with coconut and bake again, uncovered, until the coconut is golden, about 15 minutes longer

Since I was anticipating the sweetness of this side dish, I prepared it with savory grilled lamb chops that I had marinated in honey, tamari, garlic and vinegar.  This made for a well-balanced plate 😉

The inspiration for this dish came from Whole Foods Market.  They put out some great recipes!

J

Carrot-Walnut Cookies

Are you a fan of the “morning glory” muffin?  They are the breakfast muffin with a little bit of everything in them- carrots, raisins, apple butter, wheat germ, nuts.  Well this cookie is similar to that.  Packed with fiber, servings of fruit and vegetable, whole grains, and warm spices this cookie has a lot going for it health-wise.  And it’s tasty too!

Ingredients:

1 cup raw, un-salted walnuts

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 carrots, grated

1 apple, grated

1 very ripe banana, peeled and mashed

1/4 cup apple juice

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F
  • Line your baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Combine the walnuts, oats and raisins in a food processor and pulse until ground
  • Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger

  • Add carrots, apples, banana and apple juice and mix until combined

  • Drop by tablespoons one inch apart on the baking sheet, making about 24 cookies
  • Press down on each cookie with the back of a fork to flatten them a bit (peanut butter cookie-style)
  • Bake until tops and bottoms are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes

Inspired by this recipe by Whole Foods Market.

J

Chicken & Bok Choy

High in protein and vitamin C this dish surprised us when it hit our tongues.  Not that we thought it’d be gross or anything, we just didn’t have terribly high expectations.  Succulent chunks of chicken, slightly crunchy bok choy, velvety shiitake mushrooms, a well-rounded flavor that’s slightly salty and powerful with ginger- this dish is lovely.

Ingredients:

2 TBS chicken broth

1 cup chopped scallions

2 TBS fresh minced ginger

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks

1½ cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms

4 cups chopped bok choy

2 TBS soy sauce

1 TBS rice vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat broth in a skillet
  • When the broth begins to steam, add scallions and sauté for 2 minutes
  • Add the ginger and sauté for another minute
  • Add chicken and continue to sauté
  • After 2-3 minutes add the shiitake mushrooms and bok choy and cook for another 3-4 minutes
  • Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, salt, and pepper

We opted to have this over brown rice but it would also be great over noodles, or wrapped up in a tortilla.

Inspired by this recipe from WHF.

J

Five-spice chicken

Ginger, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel, garlic… oh my!  This dish really packs a punch when it comes to flavor.  Moist chunks of chicken in a reduced chicken broth with crunchy pieces of green beans- it wins on the texture side too.It’s fairly simple in execution and is done easiest when all of the vegetables are chopped ahead of time.

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

4 cups chicken broth

½ inch sliced fresh ginger

6 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

5 star anise

½ tsp dried fennel seeds

1 medium-sized onion, chopped into big chunks

3 cloves garlic, chopped in big pieces

6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 lb green beans, ends trimmed off and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup minced scallions

Directions:

  • Healthy Sauté the onion in a large frying pan over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently

  • Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute
  • Add the chicken broth, ginger, cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise, and fennel seeds. Turn the heat to medium-high and simmer for 15 minutes

  • Strain the broth mixture and put liquid back into pan. Bring to a boil and simmer on high heat with chicken pieces, green beans, and mushrooms

  • Add scallion, salt and pepper to taste

I opted to serve this in a bowl, over brown rice that I’d cooked in a mixture of chicken broth and water.

Inspired by this recipe on WHF.

J

Molasses Cookies

My favorite cookie of all time is the molasses cookie.  It’s rich in spice: cinnamon, ginger, clove.  It’s chewy and crackled on top, and has crunchy crystals of turbinado sugar sprinkled over it.  My Dad has always favored this cookie as well.  This past weekend my father, who has always lived within half an hour’s drive from me, packed all of his belongings into a U-Haul truck and left to begin a new chapter of his life in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.  Since he’d be on the road for several hours each day spanned over a three-day trip, I decided that a few dozen molasses cookies were in order.

Ingredients:

¾ Cup shortening

1 Cup sugar

1 Egg

¼ Cup molasses

2 Cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

the beautiful, large crystals of turbinado sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350
  • Cream the shortening and sugar together
  • Add in the egg, then molasses
  • In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger & cloves
  • Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet until just mixed

the dough

  • Roll into walnut-sized balls and dip one side in sugar

dough balls all scooped out & dipped in sugar, ready for the oven

  • Bake sugar side up for 10 minutes

wonderfully crackled cookie tops

  • Let cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to complete

cooling cookies

This recipe comes to me from a family member (cousin Marie) three generations older than me and I’m not sure of its origin when she found it.    All I know is that my grandmother used to make them, as did my mother, and now I do as well.

J