Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions

After seeing my naturapath yesterday I realised I really have to amp up my bean intake and make more of an effort to combine plant-based proteins for the baby. As much as I love eating beans I always forget to put them to soak the night. Although I don’t enjoy lentils as much, they are really handy when you have limited time and are out of bpa free canned beans (which I have been relying on). I was also craving pearl couscous after that delicious dish I had from East Elevation a few days ago in Melbourne.

This dish was inspired by Mujaddara but with a few alterations. I used pearl couscous for a different texture and some kale and pepitas seeds for an extra nutritional boost. This dish usually calls for crispy fried onions on top, but I decided to not over cook the onions, to  leave as much nutrients as possible. It was a delicious combination. I hope my little one is enjoying some new flavours.

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 Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup green lentils (you only need 1 cup of cooked lentils, so cook 1 cup dry for leftovers)

2 cups diced brown onion (about 1.5 onions)

olive oil

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup pearl couscous

1.5 cup liquid vegetable stock (chicken or veg flavoured)

2 cups sliced kale, tightly packed (about 2 large kale leaves, large stems removed)

3 tablespoons pepitas seeds

Method:

1. Place the green lentils in a pot with enough water to cover and bring the boil. Then place on a simmer and cook until tender. Once cooked leave to the side.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and then add the onion. Cook on a low to medium heat until the onions have browned and caramelized. This should take about 20 minutes. Once they are browned remove from the skillet and place to the side.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sized pot and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the ground cumin, ground cinnamon, all spice and sea salt. Cook for a future 30 seconds or until fragrant.

4. Add the couscous and vegetable stock to the pot. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the couscous is tender. Add more stock if it starts to stick to the pot.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet and then add the kale. Lightly saute until the kale has wilted and is a vibrant green colour.

6. Toast the pepitas seeds in a dry pan until they start to pop a little then place to the side.

7. Make sure the couscous is off the heat and then add 1 cup of cooked green lentils, 2/3 of the caramelized brown onions and kale to the pot. Stir through.

8. Serve the couscous with extra carmelized onion and toasted pepitas seeds.

*Serve as a main for 3 or as a side for 4

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Roasted Butternut Pumpkin with Brown Rice, Vegetables and Cranberries

Marco is away tonight, driving back from Sydney for a new car. I was meant to go with him, but with the job today I had to cancel. I did convince him to stop at Oliver’s Real Food, instead of McDonalds. He told me he got a delicious vegetarian burrito and smoothie. I’m very happy with him for breaking tradition.

Tonight I took advantage of his absence and made something with dried fruit and nuts. He really doesn’t like them added to savory food. I used dried cranberries, pistachios and pepitas seeds. I added them to brown rice and vegetables and stuffed them in a roasted butternut pumpkin. It was so delicious! This my first time whole roasting a butternut pumpkin and it was well worth it.

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Roasted Butternut Pumpkin with Brown Rice, Vegetables and Cranberries (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 small butternut pumpkin

2-3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 cup brown rice

1 medium brown onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

handful of green beans, roughly chopped

3 mushrooms, sliced

2 tablespoons cranberry seeds

1 tablespoon unshelled pistachio nuts

1 tablespoon pepitas seeds

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. In the mean time, remove the seeds and slice lines diagonally across the top layer of the pumpkin and place 1 tablespoon coconut oil where the seeds were.

3. Bake the pumpkin for 30-40 mins or until the pumpkin is soft. While its cooking baste the the rest of the pumpkin in the melted coconut oil.

4. In the meantime cook the brown rice. Then leave on warm.

5. Heat a large pan with 1-2 tablespoon of coconut oil then saute onion and garlic for 3 mins or until lightly browned.???????????????????????????????

6. Add mushrooms and green beans and saute for a further few minutes or until cooked. Season with salt & pepper.

7. In the meantime, take another pan and dry toast the pistachio nuts and pepitas seeds.

8. Add the brown rice, cranberries, pistachio nuts and pepitas seeds to the vegetables. Heat through and re-season.

9. Top the roasted pumpkin with rice, slice in half and serve with the remaining rice on the side.

*Serves 2

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Colorful Superfood Salad with Cheesy Brown Lentil Hummus

In preparation for the this weekends raw food conference with David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe, I am trying to eat more raw foods. I have been enjoying lots of raw fruit and veggies in juices, but I have to push myself incorporate more meals with raw ingredients. When I get some free time I want to give my dehydrator a try. I got it for Christmas and its still in its box. I have started collecting recipes on Pinterest, so there should be some experimentation next month.

This delicious brown lentil hummus is not raw, but it did make use of the leftover brown lentils that I haven’t had time to consider what to do with. I paired it with a fresh salad full of sprouts and colorful vegetables and some warmed wholemeal lebanese bread. This was so filling and a perfect quick dish before going back to studying.

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Cheesy Brown Lentil Hummus (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked small brown lentils

2 small cloves of garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons tahini

1/2 cup italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

black sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Place brown lentils and garlic in the processor and blend.

2. While its processing add olive oil and tahini.

3. Then add italian parsley and continue to blend.

4. While its still processing add garlic powder, curry powder, nutritional yeast and sea salt.

5. Once  all the ingredients have broken down in a dip, serve and top with black sesame seeds.

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Colorful Salad Bowl with Cheesy Brown Lentil Hummus and Wholemeal Lebanese Bread (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

rocket

snow pea sprouts

alfalfa spouts

red cabbage (sliced)

red onion (sliced)

radish (thinly sliced)

mini roma tomatoes quartered

cucumber (thinly sliced)

pepita seeds

wholemeal lebanese bread (or gluten free)

sea salt to taste

black sesame seeds to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Wash and toss rocket, snow pea sprouts and alfalfa and any other leafy greens you have. Place on the bottom of serving plate.

2. Top with thinly sliced red cabbage, red onion, radish, mini roma tomato and cucumber.

3. In a pan spray with spray canola oil or olive oil and lightly toast wholemeal lebanese bread. Then slice into desired shape.

4. Dry toast the pepita seeds in the same pan.

5. Top salad with Brown Lentil Hummus, pepita seeds, black sesame seeds, sea salt and serve with toasted lebanese bread.

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Chia & Pepitas Banana Bread

I have been trying to incorporate more seeds and nuts into my diet lately, since they are so healthy. They also taste really great in baked goods. Tonight’s dessert was a bit experimental, but it turned out really well. The chia seeds have a slight crunch on the inside and the pepitas seeds taste really great roasted on the outside. I wanted to also put some dates inside, but I forgot, so that gives me an excuse to make something else baked and sweet this week.

Chia & Pepitas Banana Bread (vegan, soy free)

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached self raising flour

2/3 cup evavorated cane sugar or raw sugar

1/4 cup chia seeds

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 handfuls pepitas seeds

Wet Ingredients: 3 large ripe bananas

1/2 cup plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 teaspoon almond essence

1/4 cup filtered water

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Take a large bowl and mix in all the dry ingredients (except pepitas seeds).

3. Take a smaller bowl and mash the bananas.

4. Add almond milk & vanilla essence to the bananas.

5. Add the bananas to the large bowl with the flour and stir it all through.

6. Add water to make the mixture more wet.

7. Place in a bread tin (with baking paper or greased with butter) and sprinkle pepitas seeds on top.

8. Cook in the oven for 45-50 mins (until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean). Leave to cool for 10 mins then slice and serve with vegan butter.