As most of you know by now, I’m currently pursuing my education in Holistic Nutrition from The Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) in Tempe, AZ. So far it has been a GREAT experience and I’ve loved all the new knowledge I’ve gained! Getting some reinforcement on existing knowledge has been wonderful too. Right now I’m taking 2 classes per week; I’m enrolled in Understanding Macronutrients, Micronutrients and Supplements for Optimum Health and Whole Foods Cooking. What does this have to do with you? Well, one of my assignments for Whole Foods Cooking is to… you’ve guessed it… COOK! As a matter of fact, each week we are responsible for cooking something new and creating a journal entry on it, which we turn in to our teacher. I was extremely excited about this, because that is essentially what some may call, a blog post. 😉 I didn’t really, truly, connect the dots however until about an hour ago… class is in 2 hours… I’m notorious for leaving everything to the last minute… I function better that way for some reason.
I thought it would be interesting to share each week’s assignment here, so maybe YOU all could challenge yourselves a bit too! Today’s recipe is not my own, and I hardly modified it. The reason for that, is because this is something I’ve NEVER tried or made before! Our assignment each week is to select at least one whole foods recipe that you have never had before and that does not include gluten, dairy or soy and prepare it. Then of course we need to complete a food journal entry which focuses on how you felt when you chose the dish, prepared it and ate it. How fun?!
I consider myself a pretty open minded eater when it comes to trying new stuff and flavors, but I also get into a rut easily so I’m looking forward to bringing new ideas to my life as well as yours!
The recipe I chose for today was Red Lentil Dal with Charred Onions, from my Way to Cook Vegetarian by Cooking Light. Previously when I would come across this recipe, I was reluctant to try it because of the LOOOOONG list of ingredients! Today, I didn’t let that scare me. I actually READ the list and realized it was mostly spices — and spices that I had! I only had to buy ONE spice – cardamom.
After heading to the store and picking up more onions, some cardamom and fresh cilantro I was ready to get started making my first batch of Red Lentil Dal! I was pretty excited, because I’ve had these red lentils in my pantry for about a year now! (Oh yes, and as a side note on the spices… the recipe called for whole mustard, whole clove, cumin seeds, etc. Then I was supposed to toast them, and grind them in a coffee grinder… I wasn’t going to do all THAT when I already had all the spices. Sure, it may have made it more fragrant and flavorful, but I also think it’s ok to sub on spices when it’s not that far from the original.)
I was a little worried when I read the instructions for how to prepare the onion — charred. We just learned in our last class Fundamentals of Holistic Nutrition, that burnt or even overly browned food is carcinogenic! So I modified that prep a bit, and instead of charring it or partially blackening the surface of the onion, I made sure the pan was cooled periodically with water to help steam and soften the onions. I let them get a little brown once, and then added some water and gave it a good stir.
I’m not a big fan of using broth, but this recipe called for 4 cups. As a general rule of thumb, the first time I make a new recipe, I follow it as close as I can so I have a good baseline. I always have high expectations of making my own broth, but then never get around to it. Do you have a good homemade veggie broth recipe? I’d love to hear it! Please also feel free to share a link below if you have a blog with the recipe. The below bouillon cubes work pretty well for broth, and its organic and appears to have actual real food sources– hopefully this counts as a whole food acceptable ingredient!
And the packaged tomatoes had just one ingredient…
Once I got the oil, fresh ginger and garlic in the pot, the rest was just a matter of combining everything in a stock pot and allowing it to simmer for 30 minutes. At this point I was relieved, because I had a meeting coming up and time flies when I’m in the kitchen!
I did take a little break to admire our cute little desert tortoise in the backyard… Piggy. 🙂
I also took a little peek at the progress of the garden! 🙂
After the dal had cooked for 30 minutes, it was time to add the grilled onions, cook for another 10 minutes and then add the fresh organic cilantro and lime juice.
I decided to cook up a rice and quinoa blend to use as the base for the dal, and a side of organic broccoli sounded amazing! (Yeah, I totally stole this idea from the picture in the cookbook… :))
As soon as the food was plated, I needed to run into my office and jump on a call. I was totally bummed too, because I couldn’t eat during this meeting! Alas, by the time I ate it 15 minutes later it was pretty cooled off — but I loved the flavors and texture with the rice. The steamed broccoli was perfect! And with this ringing endorsement, I think dal will be a new staple in the house.
Although… I will definitely add more spices the next time, I went a little light on all the measurements for fear of having too much spice, etc. I can’t wait until next week when I’m forced outside my comfort zone again!
Have you ever tried a new dish and had a great experience? Or maybe it went south? 🙂 Either way, I’d love to hear your story!