Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil-Quinoa Pilaf

The title should be even longer.  Roasted Sweet Potato Lentil-Quinoa Pilaf with Chili-Maple Vinaigrette.  But that’s a mouthful, right? I just want to mention every amazing flavour in this dish!

Sweet Potato Lentil Quinoa Pilaf - Vegan

So, January is almost over…how is your quest for healthy living going?  I, for one, am really focusing on eating the foods which will help me deal with my condition, PCOS.  I don’t want to bore you with a huge science lesson, but basically, this is a condition for which there is no cure.  The only treatment is medication or diet, or a combination of both.  I have chosen to work solely with my diet, and so far, so good.  The thing is, I am to avoid processed foods, wheat, sugar, and dairy (the most important ones).  Foods which cause inflammation are to be completely avoided.  Foods with a high Glycemic Index which contribute to type 2 Diabetes, also need to be kept off your plate because people living with PCOS are at higher risk for developing type 2 Diabetes in their lifetime.   I find the hardest one to really abstain from is sugar, but that’s only because it’s so darn addictive.  Like, truly, physically addictive.  So, I focused on eliminating it completely over the last two weeks, and, luckily – there are dates.  Nature’s candy.  To the rescue! 🙂  What does a PCOS diet consist of?  Lots of fruit and vegetables that are low in GI, beans, nuts, legumes, tofu, brown rice, whole grains, lots of high fiber foods, and good fats like avocado and nut butters.

So, all this has led to even bigger plates of veggies and whole grains, and truly, I know this is how I am supposed to eat.  I feel much better.  Less bloated.  My skin feels better.  I feel like I am exactly where I need to be.  If PCOS is something you are also living with, do feel free to share your experiences!  I am happy to discuss it with whoever is interested. 🙂 [Read more…]

Quinoa, Kale + Chickpea Bake

One of my girlfriends made a delicious quinoa bake last week, with black beans and delicious Mexican flavours, and since then I’ve been craving making  a hearty baked quinoa dish myself.  Although we eat a lot of quinoa in our home, I don’t usually bake it in the oven, but it’s so filling, puffy and beautifully compliments your vegetable casserole.  

Quinoa Kale Chickpea Bake 

 The nice thing with this meal, is you don’t need to precook the quinoa, it cooks nicely in the oven with the other ingredients.  But, if you do have leftover cooked quinoa sitting in the fridge, by all means, use it.  Just cut down on the liquid and cooking time, by about half.

Quinoa Kale Chickpea Bake

My son is not so into cooked little grains, like couscous or quinoa, but mixed in with all the other veggies, it was a winner for him, too.  I like when everyone is happy at the dinner table!

Quinoa Kale Chickpea Bake

Quinoa, Kale + Chickpea Bake
Serves 6
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 bunch kale
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1/2 an onion, diced
  4. 1 red sweet pepper, diced
  5. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  7. 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  8. 1 tablespoon dried sage
  9. 1 teaspoon sea salt
  10. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  11. 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  12. juice from 1/2 a lemon
  13. 1 - 14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  14. 1 cup quinoa (any colour), rinsed
  15. 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Wash the kale and remove the tough stems. Roughly chop and set aside.
  3. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion, red pepper, and garlic. Stir occasionally and cook until soft, approx. 5 minutes. Add in the kale, stirring, and cook until it has reduced in size. Stir in diced tomatoes along with the dried oregano, sage, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  4. Heat up your vegetable stock, either on the stove top, or in the microwave for 2 minutes.
  5. Put the contents of your skillet into an 8″x8″ pan. Add in lemon juice, chickpeas and quinoa along with the hot vegetable stock. Stir gently to combine. Sprinkle nutritional yeast overtop if you are using it. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, give it a stir. Check if quinoa has cooked through and if all liquid has been absorbed. If not, cover with foil and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed.
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 Quinoa Kale Chickpea Bake

Quinoa Kale Chickpea Bake

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Thanks for reading. XO

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Kale Eight Ways

Everyone knows that kale is a superfood, but the question is, are you eating your kale?  I decided to make a recipe round up of my favourite kale recipes, which are easy to make and delicious.  I hope you love them as much as we do!

I absolutely love kale in general.  A nutrient powerhouse, one cup of kale has zero fat and only 36 calories and is high in vitamins and cancer-fighting antioxidants.  Any time you see a dark green such as kale, it is a sign that it is highly concentrated with nutrients.
Here are just some of its wholesome features:

  • Super rich in vitamin K (which translates into a super antioxidant!)
  • High in fiber (assists in gut health)
  • High in iron (per calorie, more iron than beef)
  • High in vitamin A (great skin, yes please)
  • High in vitamin C (great for your immune system)
  • High in calcium (per calorie, more calcium than milk!)

I’d love to know, what is your favourite way of preparing kale?

kale 8 ways

1. Penne with Kale + Sautéed Vegetables

2. Cheesy Kale Chips 

3. Lemony Lentil + Kale Rice Bowl

4. Scrambled Tofu + Kale Breakfast Burritos 

5. Creamy Kale Salad 

6. Maple Roasted Butternut Squash + Kale Rice Bowl

7. Black Bean + Kale Soup 

8. Crispy Kale Rice Bowl with Spicy Peanut Sauce

 

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash + Kale Rice Bowl

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Although we are nearing the holidays and I’d normally be dreaming up all kinds of chocolatey desserts, I have decided to take control of my sugar cravings and nip them in the butt before Christmas rolls in and the indulgences would start.  It really is unbelievable how little time it takes to kick the sugar habit, usually within 2-3 days I no longer crave it.  On this day though, I was trying to stick to my goal, but I wanted a little something sweet.  I decided rather than caving, I’d smother some squash in maple syrup and not beat myself up over it!  My husband said it was the best way he’s ever had butternut squash. I’d love to know what you think!

This meal went over well with my preschooler.  I’m always trying to sneak kale into his meals, and if you’re curious, I find the easiest most enjoyable way is to add it into soups.  That’s another blog post, though.  Back to the rice bowl.

The only pain in the butt about preparing this meal is peeling the squash.  I find the quickest way to do it is by cutting off the stem and bottom of squash, slicing the squash in half then placing it so a flat end is on the cutting board.  Then, using a vegetable peeler, peel in a downward motion.  Perhaps a tutorial would be helpful!  The rest of the process is very simple and fairly quick.

I also want to remind you all that there are five days left to enter my holiday giveaway.  Here is the link if you haven’t checked it out yet.  If you want your Vegan Bible, then I encourage you to enter!

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Maple Roasted Butternut Squash + Kale Rice Bowl

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
  • 1/4 cup cashews, lightly toasted
  • 1 cup brown rice (I used a mix of brown/wild rice)

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Directions:

  • Boil rice according to packaging directions.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Place the cubed squash in a large bowl.  Add maple syrup, olive oil, salt, and cayenne.  Using your hands or a silicone spatula, mix all the ingredients making sure the squash is well covered in the maple syrup and seasoning.
  • Spread out the cubes on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  • Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until fork tender.  Turn on the broiler and place baking sheet under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to really caramelize the squash.  Careful not to burn them!  Lower the heat back to 425°F and toast your cashews for approximately 5 minutes.
  • Steam your kale and top with onion flakes.
  • To assemble, scoop rice into bowl, top with kale, squash and toasted cashews.
  • Enjoy!

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Cauliflower Steaks With Mushroom Gravy

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This is one of the most satisfying vegan meals we make.  It’s a great option for non-veg friends as well.  We are always left very happily full.  I’ve been craving these for days, but at $3.99 per head of cauliflower, it was hard to justify.  Finally, I found some a little cheaper today.  These ‘steaks’ can be served on their own, but they jump very high on the taste scale when you top them with mushroom gravy.  You can find my recipe for the gravy here.

As for the rest of the meal, I steamed kale and topped it with onion flakes and some sriracha sauce.  This has been my go-to way of having a quick kale dish, and it’s all thanks to Lindsay from Happy Herbivore who posted a picture of her bowl of kale on Instagram about a month ago.  It’s to die for, you must try it!

Tonight was the first time I used my new 430EX II Speedlite Flash, which was a necessity for me since the sun has been setting before I even get home from work!  I am really satisfied with its results, and having a lot of fun shooting with it.  I’m sure you all know the result of a photo taken without natural sunlight (see last post 🙂 ), and this flash is a fabulous substitute for natural light.  There’s still so much to learn, but in the meanwhile, I think it’s hard to tell whether my photos were taken in the day or evening.  I highly recommend it if you are in the market for an external flash!

Back to the food…

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Cauliflower Steaks Recipe

Makes 2-3 ‘steaks’

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and leave the core intact.
  • Starting in the center, cut the cauliflower horizontally into 3/4″ thick steaks.  You should be able to get 3 intact steaks.  As for the rest of the cauliflower florets, we’ll roast these as well.
  • Season the cauliflower steaks with salt and pepper.
  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Add the steaks and sear on each side for about 3 minutes.
  • Drizzle remaining oil onto a baking sheet.  Transfer the steaks to the baking sheet and place the florets on the sheet as well.
  • Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, and top the steaks with mushroom gravy.
  • Serve the florets as a side, or save for another day!
  • Enjoy!

Cauliflower Steaks