The weather turned cold in Southern California today which made it the perfect opportunity to make some stew. In my continuing quest to clean out the pantry I saw that I had a bunch of red lentils, so those became the base of the stew. As I often do, I went to epicurious to look through their recipes containing red lentils. I came across one by Ruth Cousineau (from Gourmet Magazine 2/2009) that I based this stew on, but as usual I tweaked it to make it healthier and to include ingredients that I had in my fridge. This was a very hearty and filling dinner…not to mention tasty!
INGREDIENTS (Makes 4-6 main course servings)
1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. butternut or kambocha squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs.s minced peeled ginger
1 Tbs. curry powder (preferably Madras)
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 cups water
1-2 tsp. fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Accompaniment: cooked brown basmati rice & chopped cilantro
Heat oil in a large pot and add in the squash,onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger, and salt. Cook until soft and beginning to brown (15-20 minutes) stirring occasionally.
Into the Pot to Soften
Softened & Ready for Spices
Add in the curry powder and pepper. Stir to incorporate.
Add in the lentils and water. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam. Simmer for 25 to 40 minutes until the lentils are cooked. At the end stir in the lemon juice and taste to see if any additional salt or pepper is needed.
Add the Lentils & Water
Serve over brown basmati rice and top with chopped cilantro.
New research from England should make dermatologists happy: A “tan” gained by eating lots of vegetables rich in carotenoids (antioxidant chemicals found in vegetables such as carrots and beet greens) is considered more attractive than a tan obtained from the sun.
At least, that’s the opinion of several British university students.
To test a theory that a healthy diet might make a person more attractive, researchers at the University of Nottingham, the University of St. Andrews and Bristol University showed a series of photographed faces to a few dozen students.
Ian Stephen, University of NottinghamThe middle photo shows the woman’s natural color. On the left, the suntanned. On the right, yellowing from carotenoids.
The students could adjust the skin tone of the photographed faces, making them more yellow, more suntanned or more pale.
According to the new study, the students found yellower faces more attractive and healthy looking.
In another study, the researchers found that students eating diets rich in vegetables and fruits had yellower skin than those who didn’t.
“Most people think the best way to improve skin color is to get a suntan, but our research shows that eating lots of fruit and vegetables is actually more effective,” said Ian Stephen, a psychologist at the University of Nottingham.
Carotenoids are antioxidants that help the body cope with stress and remain healthy. Scientists have found that they are vital in maintaining healthy immune and reproductive function.
The scientists theorize that skin shining with a carrot-like glow may indicate health to potential mates and allies, and therefore appear more attractive to others.
“This is something we share with many other species,” said David Perrett, a professor at St. Andrews who contributed to the study. “The bright yellow beaks and feathers of many birds can be thought of as adverts showing how healthy a male bird is. What’s more, females of these species prefer to mate with brighter, more colored males. But this is the first study in which this has been demonstrated in humans.”
Examples of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids include carrots, cantaloupe melons, beet greens, spinach, kale and persimmons.
About a month and a half ago I bought a Groupon for an organic produce delivery service called Farm Fresh To You. Groupon was offering a deal that I couldn’t resist, $15 for a mixed organic produce box that usually costs $31. I am such a fan of the service that I signed on as a regular customer.
I love getting the deliveries….I feel like I have a present waiting for me in my courtyard! I chose to receive deliveries every two weeks, because I really like going to the Farmer Market too. The service allows you to customize how often you receive deliveries and it is very easy to log in and cancel a delivery if need be (i.e. if you will be out of town). I have also found their customer service to be phenomenal (they call every so often to check in and ask if you have any questions).
Top Layer of Produce
Bottom Layer of Produce
The oranges from our delivery yesterday were honestly the best oranges I have ever had. The flesh was the color of grapefruit, but they were so sweet! My kids each ate one and they both asked for more.
Part of the fun for me is figuring out what I am going to make with the fruits and veggies they deliver. I have a feeling the kale is going to become kale chips!
Here is a description of their services in their own words:
We Harvest a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables from our farm and create several home delivery and office delivery service options for you to choose from. Our Regular Service is our most popular home delivery for those who have some time to cook and Mostly Fruit Service is great for those of you who are always on the run. The produce in each service changes weekly and varies seasonally, but we work with neighboring organic farms to ensure a good variety of produce year round.
You Choose the service you would like to receive and the frequency you would like to receive your service. The day that you receive delivery depends on your zip code, and the frequency of your delivery can be weekly, every other week, every third week or every 4th week delivery.
Customize your service after you sign up for your delivery by logging onto your account or contacting the office via phone or email. You let us know the item(s) you would not like to receive and we automatically change the item(s) if they come up in your standard seasonal selection. Feel free to add extra items for an event or dinner and we will deliver them with your next delivery.
When I was a kid I HATED lima beans. My dad loved them, so we ate them a lot. Just thinking of lima beans used to make my mouth dry…they always tasted so mealy and intensely dry to me and no amount of butter could fix that. To this day I see one of the bricks of frozen Jolly Green Giant lima beans and shudder.
Fast forward to adulthood. A few months ago my husband and I had the priviledge of enjoying an amazing night at the Segerstrom Family Farm in Costa Mesa. Our friends invited us to join them at the farm for a charity event (The Festival of Children) and it was truly one of my favorite events ever. We began by going out into the fields to pick the produce that would be used in our dinner. There was a private chef who prepared all of the food with her team and we spent the night dining outdoors under the stars right next to the fields. It was spectacular. The food was phenomenal and the company was even better.
The Segerstrom Farm began as a lima bean farm, so when the night ended we were all sent home with bage of dried lima beans and fantastic pumpkins to take home to the kids.
Segerstrom Lima Beans
For the holidays my mom and dad gifted me a HUGE (750+ pages) vegetarian cookbook called World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey and one of the lima bean reciped jumped out at me. The time had come for me to give lima beans another try…I already had some outstanding beans in the pantry from the Segerstrom Farm, so I had no more excuses.
Shockingly I LOVED this recipe. The beans were creamy and so flavorful. I am sure it is attributable to high quality beans and a well written cookbook.
Soak the beans overnight in water to cover by 5 inches. Drain, discarding the soaking liquid and rinse with cold water.
Dry Beans vs. Soaked Beans
Put the beans in a pot with 3 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil. Remove the scum that rises to the top. Cover, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for 40 to 60 minutes, or until the beans are just tender (If the dried beans are very fresh it may only take 20 minutes).
Skim the Foam
Meanwhile, put the oil in a flame and ovenproof casserole-type dish and set over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the onion has just wilted. Put in the carrot and cook another minute, stirring now and then. Now put in the tomatoes and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened. Turn off the heat.
Onions, Carrots, & Tomatoes
Sauteed Onions, Carrots, & Tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 325˚F.
When the beans have finished cooking, add them and their cooking liquid to the dish with the onion, carrot, and tomatoes.
Gently Mix in the Lima Beans
Add the salt, lots of black pepper, the parsley, and oregano. Stir to mix.
Add the Herbs
Put the casserole dish into the oven and bake, uncovered for 2 hours.
Ready for the Oven
Serve hot. I served this with a salad and some crusty whole wheat bread, but it would taste great over barley or pasta as well.
As often as I can I try to start the kid’s morning off with fresh juice made from my Breville juicer. The school week can be really busy and it isn’t always easy to cram in all of the nutrients they need to fuel their afterschool activities. Fresh squeezed juice is a fantastic way to give their bodies what it craves. In a perfect world my kids would drink 100% vegetable juice, but reality is different. I can get the kids to drink their green veggies as long as I temper them with the sweetness of apples and carrots. Little by little I have been able to add more and more greens.
These were the ingredients in my kid’s juice this morning:
My Kid's Morning Juice Ingredients
If your kids are new to juicing, start them off with apple juice (I have never met a kid that didn’t LOVE fresh squeezed apple juice). Move on from there by slowly adding more and more carrots to the mix (also very sweet). After a while you will be able to add in greens. I find spinach, romaine, and sugar snap peas to be very mild in taste, so those are your best bets when starting to add greens to your juice.
You don’t need to own a juicer in order to make fresh juice. If you own a blender or a Vitamix and have a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, then you can make juice. It will be a bit more work, but well worth it. In order to make juice with a blender you will need to add some water to the pitcher, chop in your veggies (watery veggies and fruits should go in near the bottom where the blade is), blend and then strain through the nut milk bags into another bowl. Work in batches until you are done.
Nut Milk Bag
To make the juice, prepare all of your fruits and veggies by washing them and cutting them down to size if they are too big to fit through the opening of your juicer. Once your produce is ready, set-up your juicer. In order to minimize clean-up, I like to line my juicer’s pulp collector with one of my recycled produce bags. Also keep some paper towel or an extra cup on hand for when you remove the juice pitcher. I block the juice nozzle with a paper towel whenever I move the juice pitcher away…otherwise it will drip onto the counter.
When you juice, make sure you juice the softer fruits and vegetables first (i.e. romaine, cucumber, sugar snap peas, tomatoes) and then push the rest of their pulp through with the harder fruits and vegetables… this will ensure that you get as much juice out of them as you can.
Softer Produce First
Most importantly, get your kids involved. When children participate in making their food, they are much more likely to actually consume that food.
Get the Kids Involved
Some kids are very put off by the color of juice that has carrots or greens in it. I have found a way around that by purchasing some fun cups in different colors. When my daughter drinks out of her fun green cup with the cool straw, she has no idea what color the juice actually is. You could also get some wacky straws to help encourage your children to drink the juice.
Using a Fun Colored Cup
Since we are on the subject of juice, I thought I’d show you what my morning juice consisted of. Most of you won’t start with this many veggies…work up to it with the same method as described above for the kids.
My Morning Juice Ingredients
When my daughter saw the juice she named it “Mommy’s Rainbow Juice.”
Don’t forget to compost your juice pulp…your garden will thank you.
So here’s the low-down on what I ate today. Since I am in recovery mode from the holidays, there is a bunch of green juice to get my nutrient levels back to where they should be…I guess you could say I am doing a cleanse of sorts.
6am – 32 ounces of water with an entire lemon squeezed in
8:15am – 20 ounces of green juice (made in my Breville juicer)
RECIPE (this made enough for the day)
kale stems that I saved from making kale chips
1 huge cucumber
1/2 head of napa cabbage
10am – handful of raw nuts… almonds, walnuts, pecans
1pm – 16 ounces of green juice (made in the morning and put in a 16 ounce mason jar filled to the lid in order to prevent oxidation…a trick I got from Kris Carr)
2:30pm – green smoothie
Blend all of the ingredients in the blender. I use my Vitamix since it completely emulsifies everything. If you don’t have a Vitamix, any blender will work…you may have to add some more liquid to get it all to blend.
"The diet that helps to reduce weight in the short run needs to be the same diet that creates and maintains health in the long run."
~T. Colin Campbell
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have.