Korma-Style Lentil Dhal

DSCN3349 2

I love love love the Indian cuisine. I love the spices and the colorful, super delicious dishes! Since a lot of dishes call for meat or side-dishes like yoghurt, I thought why not cook a vegan variation 🙂

“Can I finish the Paella?”

I’m thrilled that the dishes I cook at home for my family and friends are highly appreciated. The last few days, people were coming and going and nearly 10 people tried out all the dishes I either cooked that day or still had in the fridge from past cooking sessions. “It’s so creamy.. wait.. you didn’t add cream? Are you sure?” Yep. All dishes I cook at home don’t contain any dairy or meat and are just as delicious 🙂

Back to our dish. The lentil Dhal is a tasty and rich dish that I like to combine with Quinoa. It has a nice flavor to it thanks to the spices but it’s also fresh due to the coconut milk. If you don’t like the taste of coconut milk as much or coconut in general you may alter the recipe and use less as it has a strong unique taste to it. I personally love the taste and I find it combines nicely with the spices.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2.5 tsp curry
  • 1.5 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with basil
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 250 g lentils
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 150 g Quinoa

DIRECTIONS:

Soak the lentils for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse. Set aside. (You can soak the quinoa as well if you like.) In a large saucepan heat up the oil and add the onion. When the onion is translucent add curry, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper as well as salt and pepper. Stir for about 5 minutes before adding the diced tomatoes, coconut milk and lentils. This may look super watery as of right now but I promise it will thicken up. Stir frequently and make sure the heat is distributed evenly. When some ‘water’ is left on the surface add the garbanzo beans and stir. Now you can put the quinoa in a separate pot cover with water and let it cook. When you think your lentil dhal is thick enough turn off the heat, cover the saucepan and put aside. Serve with quinoa on the side.

I hope you have fun cooking this dish! Oh, and this dish keeps perfect in the fridge for whenever you don’t have the time to cook and just want to heat up a delicious meal.

XO, Monalisa

Advertisements

Super Easy Curried Potato Soup

Photo on 8-22-13 at 12.51 PM #2

Sometimes you just need a good bowl of soup! Growing up, a warm meal a day was oh so very important. If I’d come home late from school as a kid my mom would say something like “You poor kid you haven’t even had a warm meal yet”. To this day, I like to eat something warm at noon time. I’m not sure if this is a cultural thing as I have seen many different eating habits in different countries but it stuck with me. Nowadays I do eat a significant amount of food raw but I didn’t ban cooked foods from my diet.

If you find yourself wanting to include more vegan meals into your diet, try simple recipes that won’t take hours to make so that you’re not hesitant to cook it again, don’t include tons of ingredients so you don’t have to buy too much and can use what you already have and – last but not least – meals that are so good you won’t even miss any dairy and/or meat.

– Perfect to combine with a huge salad beforehand 😉 –

INGREDIENTS:

  • 7-8 medium potatoes
  • 1 – 2 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1,5 l vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp curry
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • sea salt and ground pepper to taste
  • that’s it!

DIRECTIONS:

Cook and peel potatoes, chop in cubes and put aside. Chop carrots and zucchini. Bring vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots and zucchini to a boil, add spices and let simmer. Let cook until carrots are tender. The longer you let your soup on the stove the creamier it gets.

Easy!

P.S: I bet an added can of coconut milk would taste delicious:)

Happy cooking,

XO Monalisa

Finger-licking spanish vegetable Paella

Photo on 8-19-13 at 12.54 PM

It’s been quiet around Locavori as I was traveling through Spain with my family, hiking in the Spanish mountains and enjoying endless beaches at the Costa del Azahar. To make it up to you guys I decided to share my favorite Paella recipe that is so good your friends and family will lick their plates. I recently made it for my family and before everybody was even home an astonishing amount of 2 kilos of paella was already missing from the stove. For everybody who has trouble convincing your family to eat cleaner, this dish is genius. I promise you there won’t be any leftovers! This recipe does not call for the typical ingredient saffron and meat/fish and is therefore whether pricey nor complicated. You can make large amounts of super rich and delicious paella in no time. Perfect dish for inviting your friends and family, getting together and eating a meal together that has a high nutritional value 🙂

Let’s start with the ingredients:

  • 3 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 chopped yellow bellpepper (cubes)
  • 1 chopped red bellpepper (cubes)
  • 1 chopped eggplant
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 cup rice
  • 3,5 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 glass jar of diced tomatoes blended with basil
  • 1 or 2 pinches of cayenne
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp curry
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (optional)
  • black olives and fresh minced parsley (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Start heating the oil in a typical paella pan or a wok (non-sticky skillet pan will work as well). Add the onions and garlic and stir for a minute. Add the bell pepper, eggplant and paprika and stir for another 4 minutes. This is the base of your dish. You can also already prepare the base ahead of time. Add the rice, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes and stir. Now you can add your spices: cayenne, thyme, curry, salt and pepper. Let it come to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes. After, you can add the garbanzo beans and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Make sure you stir frequently to distribute the heat evenly! The typical Spanish paella calls for rice that is al dente, but ultimately you have to decide how thoroughly cooked your rice should be.You can garnish the dish with pitted black olives and fresh minced parsley.

(Oh, and if I make this dish for myself I leave out the garbanzo beans as there is a lot of controversy in eating them. But for my family, all meat and fish eaters, I added them to make the dish more rich and filling.)

VARIATION:

If you don’t have fresh vegetables at home or just a few tomatoes, you can just heat the oil, add onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes and paprika as your base. Then you add rice, vegetable broth and your spices and voila you have a yummy and super easy dish!

Feel free to play with the recipe and come up with your own delicious variations 🙂 If you have questions or want to share your experience cooking leave a comment below,

XO Monalisa

I’M SO HUNGRY!!

204de32a316b46d3bb5dfae7780d8393

I see a lot of people wanting to follow a plant-based nutrition but somewhere along the way they feel so light-headed and/or dizzy, feel like they can’t concentrate anymore and soon this whole idea starts to look like a bad… bad bad idea. Aren’t we supposed to feel energized and powerful? After 3 weeks of feeling kind of starved and light-headed you FINALLY allow yourself to bite into your chicken-cheese-sandwich and aaahhh that feels good you feel like you’re finally EATING something. I see this happening aaall the time. What is going on here?

First of all, switching to a plant-based nutrition takes time. Adapting to every single principle all at once is not only exhausting it also won’t allow your body to get used to the changes you’re making. You can also monitor the benefits way better sticking to one principle at a time. A lot of the principles make so much sense though (“eating light to heavy”), you want to adapt them right away. Be careful and really stick to one at a time. They seem like “easy” principles but they often times turn our nutrition upside down. So to switch in a few days or even a week – please! Allow your body to get used to what you’re practicing to avoid the situation I described above.

The biggest “mistake” I see people do when switching to a plant-based diet, is replacing every meal with healthy choices but eating roughly around the same amount of it. So at the end of the day you ate everything you wanted to eat and are supposed to eat but why don’t you feel better or even worse? It is most definitely the amount of what you’re eating. A smoothie, medium sized salad, 1 banana or 2 apples are not cutting it!! The thing is, through processed and packaged foods, our sense of what has how much value nutritional and calorie wise is kind of off. So we think if this packaged  lasagna has this many calories my replacement dinner will most likely be roughly around the same amount. No no and… wait for it.. no. We really can’t compare whole foods and a plant-based nutrition to a diet that includes processed and boxed foods when it comes to calories. It’ll blow your mind how little calories you really eat by simple and clean eating. My best advice and most helpful for me was to monitor my calorie intake just for a few days or even a week to visualize how much more you have to eat to meet your daily calorie intake (=your energy!). More? Yes on a plant-base diet get used to eat more! Yippieh! You’ll notice that fruits and vegetables but also unprocessed foods are low in calories and therefore we’re able to eat a lot if it. I recently talked to a person who said: “Wow all the time I felt like I had to learn how to eat less and now I’m trying to eat significantly more”. Yes! And you choose! But, you’re right, this lifestyle is absolutely NOT about counting calories. This monitoring is only meant for you to learn about the foods you’re eating and to see what you have to eat in a day. When I first started to monitor my calorie intake I found out that I’d have to double my intake to reach my estimated “goal” in terms of calories a day. No wonder I felt light headed! Gradually adding more food to your meals will help you to feel satisfied and also will train your body to be able to eat more of it all. You might feel full fairly quick but your stomach will expand and contract, so don’t be afraid of gradually adding more to your plate. There is a reason for certain movements such as 30 bananas a day or even people who go fully raw and eat astonishing amounts of fruits and vegetables. As crazy as they sometimes sound or look especially if you’re new to it all, you’ll see that if you’re seriously getting into this and this is really what you’re eating, it seems to be more reasonable bite for bite. The core of it all however is, that it is important to talk about the amount of what you’re eating when learning about a plant-based nutrition. So we don’t have to eat 30 bananas in a day and we most definitely won’t be able to afford a weekly farmers market for our taking, BUT we can learn and keep an open mind when it comes to eating more of what is good for us. (Check out Kristina from fullyraw.com or fullyraw on Youtube!)

So how can you monitor your intake with getting all the information? Try cronometer.com. It is a free service that allows you to type in the foods you consume and it will present you with not only nutritional information about a single fruit or vegetable for example but also will present you with an overview showing you how many percent you have reached from your daily calorie intake. Your daily calorie intake will be calculated according to your height and weight. Again, this is to visualize your overall intake, not to depend and live on. You want to learn how much you have to eat to get your daily calorie intake. Eating healthy is however, not about counting calories as there really is no need for that. So after monitoring your intake you are welcome to say goodbye to such services as cronometer and live happily without.

Short recap: With a plant-based diet comes the need to eat the right amount of it to satisfy your needs. Boxed and processed foods are high in calories with little to no nutrients, whereas fruits and vegetables as well as unprocessed whole foods are low in calories and have a high nutritional value. Because you do need to meet your daily calorie intake to be able to function properly and have energy, you might find yourself eating too little of what is good for you. If you have already started switching and find yourself in the situation above try gradually adding more foods to your diet and eat more of it all. As you can see, with this whole lifestyle you’re really NOT on “a diet” and you’re not restricting yourself. It is about learning what works for you fuel your body with foods it deserves to function at its best.

Through years of eating highly processed foods and consuming dairy and/or meat, it is also possible that your body is not able to absorb all the nutrients right away. So you might start to eat well but if your colon for example is still backed up you might not get all the benefits right away. This is normal as it take time for your body to detoxify and get all bad things out of your body and also to clean out your colon. A clean colon makes a happy body! I’ll definitely talk about digestion on this blog as it is one of the most important topics to talk about when it comes to eating healthy and detoxifying your body. There are things you can do to speed up the process and detoxify efficiently such as helping your body digest the huge amounts of fiber you’re now eating and cleaning out your colon by taking a daily probiotic or digestive enzymes after heavy meals (post will follow!) or even a colonic. But first of all stick to the healthy choices you’re making and I promise you’ll see changes. It does however take willpower, often times because you might deal with detox reactions (post will folow!) along the way as toxins are leaving your body. But more of this in upcoming posts!

Puuh we cut on so many topics in this post, but I promise I’ll break it down for you in smaller packages. So in the upcoming blog posts I’ll talk about more principles, healthy habits, digestion, nutrient absorption and detox reactions.

Stay hungry! 🙂

XO Monalisa