Sunday, May 25, 2014

Lentil Potato & Spinach Stew

     Happy Memorial Day Weekend! A couple of weeks ago, I was at Trader Joe's stocking up on snacks to bring along to Florida for my board exam. In a stressful haze, I impulsively bought a bag of pre-steamed lentils (because, why not?). Plus, everyone who has been to Trader Joes knows that it is impossible to leave that place without picking up a few extra interesting things you weren't expecting to buy (see lentils here). So, the exam came and went, and upon my return home, the lentils were sitting in the fridge unused. I hate wasting food, so I made note of the extra spinach we had and hunted for a recipe that would allow me to use both. I've always liked lentils (and my husband does too), but I've been too impatient to cook them from scratch (soaking them, etc). Armed with a pre-steamed version, I was ready to test them out. This recipe is adapted from Epicurious and is incredibly healthy and makes quite a large batch  - you will likely have leftovers. It's a great vegetarian meal (we ate ours without meat and with leftover naan), but could easily be served as a side dish with meat. With all of the fiber and protein in the lentils, this will keep you really full - and you can pat yourself on the back for being a dietary saint while you're at it ;)

Lentil Spinach & Potato Stew


1  17 oz box steamed lentils (Trader Joe's) 

1 can reduced sodium chicken broth (vegetable broth can be substituted)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped garlic

5 medium-sized red potatoes

3 1/2 cups packed spinach

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1 lemon


1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat

2. Add garlic, stir 30 seconds

3. Add chicken/vegetable broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer 10 minutes

4. Add lentils, breaking part with a wooden spoon or fork. Cook for 3-5 minutes

5. Grate 1/2 tsp lemon zest and squeeze 2 tbsp lemon juice from the lemon. Add to pan along with spinach

6. Cook through until spinach is wilted. Enjoy! 

If you'd like to make this with non-cooked lentils, see the original recipe at Epicurious here.

Thanks for reading! I hope you're enjoying this beautiful weekend. 


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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sweet Potato Fritters

It feels good to be cooking again! This is one of those one-bowl meals that are great for quick, breezy summer dinners. I'm still recovering from my post-boards mental fog - so, nothing too complicated for dinner - plus, I wanted to use up our hefty stash of leftover baked sweet potatoes. I was getting pretty tired of eating the sweet potatoes with yogurt, so it was time to mix them up - with paprika, chili powder, a coating of crunchy panko, and tangy, cool goat cheese on top. The earthiness of paprika and chili powder are a perfect complement to the sweetness of the potatoes. I wanted to add enough spice to really make these more savory than sweet. 

Sweet Potato Fritters
makes approximately 12 fritters


3 cups mashed sweet potato (cold or room temperature)

2 eggs

3 tbsp whole wheat flour

1/2 tbsp paprika

1/2 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper 

panko bread crumbs

goat cheese 

Love these earthy colors


1. Combine all but the last two ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined - the batter will be thick and slightly chunky

2. Spread a layer of panko bread crumbs evenly over a large plate. Here's the tricky part - take a heaping tablespoon of the batter and drop onto the bread crumbs 

3. Sprinkle panko crumbs over the top of the batter and flatten into a disc, approximately 1 inch thick (Note: you can make these fritters as large or small as you like)

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have used all of the batter. You will likely need a second plate to hold all of the coated patties

5. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and lightly cover the base with olive oil. When the oil is hot, gently transfer patties to the pan (you'll need a large sturdy spatula because they're very soft)

6. Pan fry in batches, approximately 3 minutes per side

7. Top with goat cheese and serve immediately

This recipe is so versatile. If you love cheese, you could certainly mix it into the batter - or if you hate cheese, just leave it out completely (in the batter and as a topping). These fritters are great as a side, but can definitely stand on their own for a light meal on a lazy summer night. We'll probably enjoy our leftovers for breakfast, topped with a fried egg. 

Thanks for stopping by!


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Friday, May 16, 2014

Increasing Adiposity - Consequence or Cause of Overeating?

Picture from NYTimes

I'm back! I apologize for being MIA for the past month - I was simply held hostage by board exam prep.  In the interim, I've been (sporadically) cooking healthy but mostly uninteresting food - and I've been too tired to take any photographs. You didn't miss much. But with the exam behind me, and much more time and energy, I'm looking forward to whipping up some new stuff in the kitchen soon! 

I was browsing the news and just had to share this NYTimes article:  Always Hungry? Here's Why
As I read it, I cackled evilly because I finally have ammo against my husband's argument that "calories are calories". I've always contested this but never really had any solid evidence to back it up. This does not stop me from putting vegetables and fruits on his plate. 

Seriously though, the whole debate about weight, how to lose weight, why some people gain weight, why some lose weight, etc can be exhausting. Even worse, the dietary fads out there are just as short lived and fickle as fashion trends. I'm sure you've probably heard by now that "oh, guess what? Fat actually isn't bad. The low-fat diet craze of the 80's was actually harmful to us".  I wish people would admit the same about shoulder pads.

Realistically, there are million factors at play when it comes to weight and health. So no, we're never going to figure out exactly what gives. This NYTimes article though, is well put and refreshing. It summarizes a recent JAMA publication by David Ludwig and Mark Friedman, which suggests that the composition of food consumed is equally, if not more important than the standard "calories in, calories out" rhetoric. Of course, this isn't a radically new idea (other people have tried to champion it before, but largely failed), but it is gaining hold. The thing that puzzles me is - yes, intuitively, calories in, calories out makes sense. But doesn't putting good fuel in your body also make sense? Would you put some crappy mystery fuel in your car? Exactly. 

I'm not knocking the calories in calories out model (I'm sure it still holds true on some level), but like the authors of the JAMA article argue, focusing exclusively on calories may only be symptomatic treatment of an ominous underlying disease - the crap food that is ubiquitous in our environment. So if you needed another reason to eat better, I hope you're satisfied. 

For your reading pleasure, a link to the actual JAMA article here

Thanks for stopping by - let's catch up over some real food soon :)


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