Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Lentils as well as any legume are an inexpensive source of protein, as well  as fat-free, high in fiber and rich in a number of essential nutrients. Adding lentils to your diet offers a number of health benefits, from controlling your weight to promoting heart health.

varieties of lentils You need 25 to 30 grams of fiber everyday, and one half cup of lentils will supply 8 grams of that fiber. Fiber in foods helps suppress appetite, helping you to manage and maintain a healthy weight.  Eating a diet that is rich in dietary fiber also decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in your body.

If you have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes, fiber rich foods can also help in the regulation of sugar in the blood stream.

According to the World Health Organization iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder in the world, and 1/2 cup of lentils provides 3.3 milligrams in a 1/2-cup serving.

Keep in mind though, that your body can’t absorb as much iron from plant-based foods, including lentils as it does from meat sources. Eating lentils with a food rich in vitamin-C, such as sweet peppers, can help improve absorption.

As you might have guessed by now our featured recipe has lentils, and to  help your body take advantage of the iron in them, the recipe includes vitamin-C sources, including green beans, carrots, and celery.

Our featured recipe is: Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew, and here is what you will need.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 medium rainbow carrots, sliced (colors include yellow, purple, and red)

2 medium celery stalks, sliced

1 bay leaf

1 garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups dried green lentils, picked over and rinsed

2 medium purple sweet potatoes, 1/2-inch dice

9 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 – 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Himalayan salt and fresh ground black pepper

Whole leaf cilantro and plain Greek yogurt, for garnishing

chopped vegetables for Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Prepare vegetables and in a extra- large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and bay leaf. Cook the vegetables while stirring until they are softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Next add the garlic and curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Next add 7 cups of fresh water and the green lentils. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook 10 minutes.

Next add the sweet potatoes and continue to cook, with the pot covered, until the lentils and sweet potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.

Nest add the green beans and can of diced tomatoes with juice, and cook until warmed through, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove bay leaf from stew pot, and add the chopped cilantro and stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Bowl of Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Serve with a dollop of yogurt and whole cilantro leaves. Enjoy!!

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Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing

Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig DressingFigs are a fruit native to Italy and Greece. The fruit is available in both fresh and dried forms, and they offer a nutritional advantages due to their nutrient content.

Are you worried about the appearance of your skin? Figs are rich in nutrients that build and maintain healthy looking skin. The nutrients include B-complex, vitamin-C, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium, which are all essential nutrients for boosting and rejuvenating the skin’s health. Figs contain high amounts omega-3 fatty acids which helps to keep skin moisturized and conditioned.

Rubbing fresh figs on your face and allowing it to dry can help cure acne.

Fig leaves are also used is used for skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo (loss of pigment color). The milky sap from the tree is used to treat skin tumors and warts, when applied directly to the skin.

Research with the chemicals found in the leaves of the fig tree reports that a tea made from fig leaves could help use insulin more efficiently and reduce insulin requirements in people with type 1 diabetes. It also helps to lower blood sugar levels after eating (WebMD).

Let’s enjoy the healthy benefits of figs as well as their natural sweetness with our featured recipe: Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing. Here is what you will need.

Bellas Blackberry and Fig Dressing6 black figs, stemmed , cut in half

1 small eggplant, sliced

1 cup fresh blackberries

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

4 cups mix tender leafy greens (can mix spring greens with some spicy greens)

1/2 cup goat cheese

1/3 cup pecan pieces

1 jar Bella’s Blackberry and Fig Balsamic Dressing (3 to 5 tablespoons each plated salad)

sliced eggplant and figsThe eggplant we used is a long narrow purple and white Asian eggplant. According to Grow Organic, they are a “new” eggplant on the garden scene, though it is a much older Asian variety. They are long and narrow, and come in a variety of colors including white, purple, magenta and green (Grow Organics).

Slice the eggplant into 1 inch slices, and cut the figs into two.

olive oil coated sliced eggplant and figsIn a large mixing bowl, add the oil, salt, and slice produce and toss until coated.

on the bbq - grilling eggplant and figs

bbq grilled eggplant and figsNext place a piece of tin foil on to a BBQ grill, and heat BBQ until hot.

Place figs and eggplant on to hot grill, and turn after 2 minuets.

After turning  you should hear the figs make a pop noise (skins are bursting slightly), about 1 minute, then remove from grill and set aside.

Grilled Figs and Eggplant Salad with Blackberry and Fig Dressing- detailed close upNext, per plate add two hand fulls of leafy greens. Top with grilled eggplant, figs and blackberries. Next sprinkle on cheese and nuts. Now splash 3 to 5 tablespoons of balsamic dressing (about 1/4 cup or 2 ounce). You can purchase the dressing at your favorite market if available, and if not, you can find it at the Whole Foods Market.

The number of eggplant and fig pieces, including berries you place on each plated salad will determine how many salads you will be preparing.

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Raspberry Tiramisu

Raspberry Tiramisu

If you like Tiramisu and raspberries even more, then you’re gong to like Raspberry Tiramisu.  This recipe is a twist on the Italian favorite. Ladyfingers are layered in the dish with a mascarpone, ricotta, raspberry mixed filling.

Others have also gotten away from the traditional cake with a Chocolate-Raspberry Tiramisu, and a Mango Tiramisu with Raspberry Sauce.

We used all organic dairy products. It is true that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States says there is no difference in the use of BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone) in traditional dairy over non use in organic dairy. But we feel that statement is not really accurate, as the flavor is very different. The dairy products that come from cows that did not receive any BGH, is more creamier as well. How it always was and should be, before the use of BGH in the raising of cows.

The lady fingers in this recipe was purchased at the Whole Foods Market. They did have a gluten free lady fingers product, but we did not like the fact that it included mono-glycerides and diglycerides in it. What is our concern?

First, it is a food additive commonly used to combine ingredients containing fats with those containing water, two types of ingredients that don’t ordinarily combine well.

Made up in part of fatty acids, mono- and diglycerides may contain trans fats, either when manufactured in a lab or, if they come from an animal or vegetable source, when exposed to heat for processing into packaged and prepared foods.

Trans fats are associated with increased risk of numerous diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and also causes inflammation in the body raising LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and lowers the HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Now for our featured recipe: Raspberry Tiramisu, and here is what you will need.

2 lemons

Raspberry Tiramisu - in cake dish1/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tbsp. granulated sugar

3 sprigs fresh mint

3/4 cup filtered water

8 oz. mascarpone

8 oz. whole-milk ricotta

1 1/2 cup heavy cream

4 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)

2 packages lady fingers (each package contains 20 cookies)

lemon peel mint sugur waterWith a vegetable peeler, remove rind of one lemon in strips and place into a medium sauce pan. With the other peeled lemonlemon finely grate the zest and place aside.

Next add 1/4 cup of lemon juice, sugar, mint, and water into the sauce pan with the lemon rind. Bring pan to a boil, lower heat, simmer for 1 minute.

Set pan aside to let cool completely, then discard the lemon zest and mint. You should have 1 cup (8 ounces) of prepared lemon syrup.

mixing dairy products, zest and sugar - folding in raspberries for Raspberry TiramisuAdd mascarpone, ricotta, reserved zest and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar to a large bowl, and mix together with an electric beater on medium speed until smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the heavy cream, mixing to incorporate. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form.

Fold in the raspberries with a large mixing spoon or spatula, gently mashing them against the sides of the bowl.

building the Raspberry TiramisuUsing a baking dish that will allow for a two layer cake, line a 9 X 9-inch baking dish with lady fingers, as shown in illustration. Drizzle half the lemon syrup over the lady fingers, then top with half the cream mixture (about 4 cups).

Repeat with the remaining fingers, syrup and raspberry cream. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 24 hours. After one hour of refrigeration, cover the dish so cream doesn’t give you a dried out look.

Raspberry Tiramisu -LgPlate and serve. If you wish top each plated serving with mint and fresh raspberries.

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Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

If you enjoy Asian food and Latin food alike, this recipe can be considered an infusion of the two. Only for the fact that the butter lettuce is used like a taco.

This recipe is very simple and easy to prepare, and is bursting with Asian flavor. We used tapioca starch in place of cornstarch, which we feel is a better choice. Another great cornstarch replacement is arrowroot.

The recipe contains coconut, in the form of oil and dried coconut meat. Coconut oil, though it contains saturated fat, also has fat in the form of lauric acid, about 50%. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and antiprotozal properties.

Tips on Choosing the Lettuce

Butter lettuce is great to use with this recipe for its tenderness, and texture. Choose the leaves that are the largest, and most pliable. Be sure the leaf is not wilted or has and discoloring on it.

Let’s get stated with preparing our featured recipe: Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and here is what you will need.

12 leaves of butter lettuce

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1 pound chicken breast or chicken thigh strips (option to also use ground meat)

2 medium green onions, chopped

½ cup canned water chestnuts, drained, rinsed, and chopped

¼ cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce

1 tablespoon tapioca starch

2 tablespoons filtered water

¼ cup gomasio (sesame seeds and sea salt) – recipe to follow

1/2 cup dried fine flacked unsweetened coconut meat

First make your gomasio.

Recipe for Gomasio

2 cups whole sesame seeds

1 tablespoon Himalayan salt

Place sesame seeds in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.

Roast for 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until seeds turn golden brown.

Place sesame seeds and salt in a suribachi or mortar and pestle, and grind into a coarse meal. A coffee grinder will work as well.

When cooled, transfer to a glass container.

Store in refrigerator. Keeps for 6-8 weeks.

Gomasio is the principal table condiment in the Macrobiotic diet. Use it in place of table salt to season your food, giving it a hearty delicious taste.

According to Macrodiet.com, gomasio also functions as a medicine in itself, due to its powerful ant-acid biochemical effect–a thousand times more effective than AlkaSeltzer. They state you can use 1/2 to l teaspoonful placed directly into the mouth,  and suck on it well, before swallowing, as it strengthens digestion and improves energy.

Because the gomasio uses Himalayan salt (Celtic or sea salt can be used as well), it contains all of the vital trace minerals like (but not limit too) calcium, potassium, and magnesium, making it a natural anti-acid for the stomach. Table salt will not work, as it only contains sodium.

Preparing Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Wash lettuce leaves gently so as not to damage or tear them. Drain the lettuce in a clean colander or on clean paper towels for a few minutes before using.

Heat the coconut oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chicken stripes and sauté until oblique in color.

vegetable ingredients for Coconut Chicken Lettuce WrapsNext add the green onions, water chestnuts, tamari, and chicken broth. Simmer for about 5 minutes.

Mix the tapioca with water and add to chicken mixture. Cook over medium high heat, until the sauce thickens.

Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Transfer chicken mixture to a serving bowl set on a large platter and sprinkle with the gomasio and mix in. Top with the dried coconut meat on top. Next arrange the butter lettuce leaves on the platter around the bowl.

plated - Coconut Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Each person takes a lettuce leaf and spoons some of the chicken mixture on to it, and grabs the butter lettuce with meat mixture like a wrap of taco style.

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