It’s that time again – New Year’s Resolutions!
We’re 22 days into the new year and the diet commercials are on every major network, popping up in Facebook ads, magazines, you name it there is a diet out there for you (or so they say).
I don’t particularly care for New Year’s resolutions, as I feel as though you’re setting yourself up for failure, especially when it comes to weight loss and food. I already have enough focus on what I eat day-in-day-out living with Celiac Disease. Sometimes I feel as though I’ve placed so much attention on what I eat it feels as though I have an eating disorder. I makes me a bit neurotic at times to be honest. I don’t have the liberty of eating anything I want anymore.
Just before the end of the year you may have read my tweets and Facebook posts, I decided to attend a 10-day health immersion where I would be learning about eating a plant-based diet. I was not a believer in eating a plant-based diet, far from it. I love bacon, baked goods and good-ol home cooked Southern food. But I took the leap of faith and went on a journey for ten days.
Imagine the setting of Naples, FL late October perfect 75º weather. Beach front accommodations – It was the perfect (I live in Austin, TX and totally landlocked – I miss the ocean so much)! I got to frolic in the sand and dip my big toe in the ocean, ride a bike with wind blowing over my face ever so gently. Sound fantastic right? It was and thank goodness, as the first few days of the immersion were really quite difficult (so glad I had my own room & wasn’t sharing). I’d been traveling for work most of the summer and into early fall and arrived in Naples after having spent five glorious days in New York City (yes I ate my way through the city knowing I was headed to the immersion).
Not to bore you with the details but I basically learned how to eat a plant-based diet which includes more than just salads. The biggest challenge for me that I am struggling with now back home is the “no oils” but I was armed with a set of tools that showed me how to carry out this into the dishes I would be cooking when I returned home.
Cut to the chase – this is my 1st recipe post immersion and I’m very happy with the results - Red Lentil Curried Soup:
- 2 Cups Red Lentils (soaked/rinsed)
- 1 Onion (Large)
- 3 Carrots
- 3 Stalks of Celery (I pulled off three stalks from 1 bunch)
- 1/2 tsp Red Curry Paste
- 3-4 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth (or you can make your own)
- Elephant Garlic
- White Pepper
- 1 -2 Bay Leaves
- White Wine
First roast the elephant garlic in the oven at 375º until garlic is tender. I wrapped in foil as my garlic roster broke (sad) and added 1 tbsp of vegetable stock to keep the garlic moist in lieu of olive oil (1 tbsp of olive oil contains roughly between 119-140 calories depending upon the type purchased and 14 grams of fat (21% of your daily value).
While the garlic is roasting (which takes about an hour) I soaked the red lentils in cool water and set aside. Next I prepared the rest of the ingredients but chopping the onions, carrots and celery (mirepoix). I placed my Le Crueset Enameled Cast Iron French Oven over a medium heat and added in the mirepoix and stirred lightly. Typically I’d add olive oil to the pan, but based on what I learned at the immersion I allowed the mirepoix to “sweat” and naturally caramelized adding in vegetable stock as needed. I deglazed the pan by using a bit of white wine (your choice – I use Three Wishes White Whine from Whole Foods to cook with as it’s got a good flavor and is inexpensive $3.99 per bottle) and added in the bay leaves and pepper to season.
Next I drained off the waters from the lentils and added into the pan and allowed the lentils to soak up some of the developed flavors from the mirepoix. After about 5-10 minutes, I removed the bay leaves and using a ladle transferred the ingredients to my Vitamix. If you don’t have a Vitamix, a hand-held immersion blender or regular blender will work. Then I added in the vegetable stock. You can add more stock depending on the consistency you prefer but I like my soups a little on the thicker side. What’s next – Adding in the red curry paste. I’m a spice wimp, meaning I don’t like things super spicy foods so I only add 1/2 tsp of red curry paste. You can certainly add more but remember a bit goes a long way! Also you could add cumin to the recipe which would give it another lovely layer of flavor (suggestion would be to add cumin to mirepoix).
Flip the switch on whatever blending source you decide to use. Drop in the roasted garlic and season to taste with additional pepper/add additional stock as needed. You’ll note I don’t add any salt to the recipe as the vegetable stock contains sodium, but feel free to add it to the recipe.
Let’s spoon – It’s the perfect soup for this chilly weather we’ve been having! I hope you enjoy this healthy soup as much as I have (its lick the bowl good) and I’m looking forward to more adventures in the kitchen learning how to cook without dairy, sugar, oils and meats (I still may eat some pork from time to time and a good filet)!
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