Spicy Cashew Coconut Lentil Curry

Adjusting to a new diet has proven to be quite the challenge, but one of the most enlightening things is being introduced to a whole new section of the grocery store. 2 months ago, I probably would have scoffed at you if you brought chickpeas, lentils or butter beans anywhere near me. Now I embrace these staples as part of my daily regime.


The shocked looks I get when I tell people about my meat-less habits haven’t ceased to amuse me. I’m sure that most people have visions of me sitting on the kitchen floor, crying whilst clutching my bowl of lettuce and carrots. Little do they know that I curl up on the love seat with a hot bowl of curry in my lap, warm naan to my left and cold yogurt to my right. The grass is indeed greener on this side.


This dish starts with a homemade red curry paste that takes 5 minutes to prepare and can be stored in the fridge for all your future curry needs. YES.


What I love about lentils is their insane nutritional points and incredible versatility. These are easily slipped into any curry, wrap or salad. I look forward to exploring all the fun ways to exploit this sneaky little bean but for now, I’ll start with this curry.

 

Spicy Cashew Coconut Lentil Curry

For the red curry paste: 

1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp, grated ginger

2-6 chillies, I used 3

1 tbsp lemongrass, I used fresh from the garden but you can use pre-packaged

¼ cup fresh cilantro

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp each salt and black pepper

For the curry: 

olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ yellow onion, sliced thinly

½ red onion, sliced thinly

between 2 and 4 tbsp red curry paste, I used 3

1 14 oz can tinned tomatoes

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup dried brown lentils

2 cups water

½ cup chopped spinach, optional

salt and pepper to taste

rice + naan for serving as well as natural yogurt

cashews, parsley, lemon wedges for garnish

Method

Make the red curry paste

In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the red curry paste and pulse until combined. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it’s not blending well. Keep sealed in a glass jar and refrigerate until use. Will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge but you can freeze individual portions in ice trays if you would rather keep them frozen.

Make the lentil curry: 

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep saucepan and toast the cumin seeds for a minute before adding both the yellow and red onion. Fry the onions until translucent then add the red curry paste. Coat the onion in the paste and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes and coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil before adding the dried lentils and 2 cups of water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

If after 30 minutes the curry is still very watery or is not at your desired consistency, increase heat to high and boil for 5-10 minutes or until it’s thick enough. Before serving,  add the spinach to the curry and cook on low for 5 minutes, or until wilted. Serve hot with rice, naan and cashews, dollop natural yogurt on top if the curry is too spicy for you.

 

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30 Minute Vegetarian Chilli Bowls

Regarding today’s recipe, nothing could be easier. Even calling for takeout. Because that involves scanning the menu, deciding what you want, calling the takeout place, waiting 30 minutes for the delivery- and even then, it might not be as good as you anticipate. In that same space of time, you could have prepared these easy peasy chilli bowls. They are packed with protein, loaded with nutrients and crammed with flavour. They are all kinds of good for you- gluten free, meat free, cruelty free. In case you missed my big announcement, check out this post.


These bowls are absolutely perfect on a cold winter’s eve, as leftover lunch at work the next day or a post-workout meal. You can prepare this in bulk and freeze individual portions to eat over the course of the week. These are incredibly versatile in the sense that they can be served as comfort food whilst still being formal enough to be served at a dinner party. And with the festive season approaching, these would be perfect for any vegetarian guests who might find themselves at your dinner table this Christmas.

30 Minute Vegetarian Chilli Bowls                                                                                     serves 2-4

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil + extra

1 yellow onion, diced

½ red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup butternut squash/pumpkin, chopped into ½ inch cubes

1 medium baby marrow, chopped into ½ inch cubes

1 medium carrot, diced

1 red pepper, sliced thinly

1 green pepper, sliced thinly

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika (or less if not comfortable with spice)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp rosemary

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp oregano

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp brown sugar

1 14 ounce tin of red kidney beans- any other kind of bean will work e.g butter beans, sugar beans, even a mix of beans is fine

1 14 ounce tin of chopped tomatoes

about ½ cup cheddar for garnish

about ¼ cup mozzarella for garnish

a handful of fresh rosemary for garnish

Method

  1. In a large cast iron pot on high heat, fry the red and yellow onion in the olive oil, until the yellow onion is translucent, about 2 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the butternut squash, baby marrow, carrot, green and red pepper to the pot and cook for 10 minutes, or until the squash has softened, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the black pepper, salt, paprika, coriander, cumin, rosemary, thyme and oregano to the pot. Stir to coat the veggies with spices and cook for about a minute before adding the tomato paste and brown sugar to the pot and cooking for another minute.
  4. Add the red kidney beans and tinned tomatoes to the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. At this point you can choose to serve immediately, continue to simmer for another hour if you’re not ready to serve, or you can freeze individual portions to serve later. To serve: spoon the desired amount of chilli into a bowl, top with cheddar, mozzarella and rosemary. Can be served with crusty bread and rice.


 

 

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Hola!

I am glad to announce to the world that I am still alive. I’d love to catch you up on what’s been going on in my life but I’m afraid that’s going to have to wait for the next Actuellement post. You can imagine that after close to 3 months of inactivity, I’m a bit rusty to this blogging thing. My sincerest apologies if any of my followers feel as though I have forsaken you, leave me a comment and let’s catch up!


I thought I would ease back into the swing of things with this simple recipe for Strawberry Chia Seed Jam. 5 ingredients. 10 minutes of your time. Vegan? Yes. Paleo? Yes. Delicious? OH YEAH. This jam is a perfect accompaniment for any cheeseboard, the sweetness of the jam works wonderfully for a creamy cheese such as brie (which I used in these photos) or cream cheese. This is so much better than anything you would find on any supermarket shelf that you can guarantee is full of sugar and preservatives and all sorts of other nasty things. As a bonus, you can gloat to all your friends at the next wine and cheese gathering that you tackled this all on your own. I’ll raise my glass to that.

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Ingredients

1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp chia seeds

a pinch of salt

Method

In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, honey and lemon juice. Cookover medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes, the honey should have completely blended with the strawberry juices. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender* to purée the strawberry mixture until it reaches your desired consistency. Stir in the chia seeds and salt and transfer the jam to a glass jar.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.Serve on toast, on crackers with a side of brie or with your yogurt and granola at breakfast.

*If you like a chunkier jam with fruit pieces, there’s no need to use a blender. If you don’t own a blender, you can also use a potato masher to crush the strawberry pieces.

Apricot Almond Chia Granola Bars with Yogurt Drizzle

Confession Time: I have loathed peanut butter since I was 7 years old.

Before I was 7, I loved peanut butter and put it on virtually everything I ate. From crackers to sandwiches to rice (it’s a Zimbabwean delicacy along with kale and peanut butter) I could not get enough of the stuff. Until one unfortunate occasion when my peanut butter addiction punished me with an upset stomach. From that day onward, peanut butter was my mortal enemy. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups stopped being enjoyable, my PB & J sandwiches were PB deficient and Heaven knows what I would do when presented with a stir fry drizzled with peanut sauce.


I was perfectly happy to condemn myself to a nut butter-less life until I came across the most wonderful granola bars ever. And the worst part is: they were peanut butter flavoured. You can only imagine how confused my taste buds were. All the work I had put into disliking peanut butter in the previous 10 years had gone to waste. Feeling guilty, I decided to give it another chance.


And that opportunity led itself to where we are today, with these wonder-bars. With an apricot jam filling, every bite is jam-packed (haha) with that sweet fruity flavour and you don’t have to feel guilty because there is NO SUGAR in these bars. Bonus: they’re also paleo, vegan and full of everything that could ever be good for you on Planet Earth. We got almonds, we got chia seeds, we got oats, these bars will make your tummy so happy. The bars are the perfect balance of chewy and crunchy, so your teeth won’t break when you bite into them, but your jaw won’t get tired from chewing them. Have I got your attention yet?


Apricot Almond Chia Granola Bars with Yogurt Drizzle                                        makes 8 bars

Ingredients

Granola Bars:

2 cups oats

1 cup almonds, sliced or whole is fine, you could use pecans if desired

1 cup dried apricots, any other kind of dried fruit is okay

¼ cup chia seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup honey

1 tsp vanilla essence

½ cup apricot jam (optional)

Greek Yogurt Drizzle: 

½ cup Greek yogurt

2 cups icing sugar

1 tbsp honey

Method

For the granola bars:

  1. Grease an 8×8 baking pan and line with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the granola bars and stir until well combined. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat together the peanut butter and honey, stirring often until blended together. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla essence. Pour the peanut butter and honey mixture into the dry oat mixture and mix well until fully coated. You’re welcome to use your hands to make sure to really incorporate the wet ingredients.
  3. Press half of the granola bar mixture into the greased baking pan. Make sure that the base is fully covered. Press down to make sure you have an even layer. Microwave the apricot jam on high for 30 seconds to make sure it’s pourable. Pour the hot jam over the first layer of the granola bars and use a butter knife to make sure it’s spread evenly. Cover with the remaining granola bar mixture and press down to make sure you have an even layer. Freeze for 2 hours, then slice into 8 bars and return to freezer.

For the Greek Yogurt Drizzle:

  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Greek Yogurt Drizzle and mix until combined. After cutting the bars, drizzle the drizzle (fo’ shizzle) over the bars and freeze for 30 minutes or until set. If desired, you could dip the bars into the drizzle and let set, drizzle side up. Store these bars in the refrigerator for up to a month.


This recipe was adapted from these Blueberry Vanilla Greek Yogurt Granola Bars by Half Baked Harvest.

Thai Curry Butternut Squash Soup

I am a terrible person.

I know, I know, I know, I was supposed to update a couple of days ago, but sometimes life gets in the way and you get distracted by other things.


Like this lemon curd that I’ve since used to make these crepes, these bars and these mini cheesecakes!

And these cookies that are the definition of heaven-sent.

So although I’ve been procrastinating updating the blog, I haven’t been off doing bugger-all, in fact I’ve been testing, editing and writing lots of new stuff for you lovelies to enjoy in the year to come. So it works out in everyone’s benefit really 😄


Onto today’s meal. Soup. And no- soup is not for the senile and toothless, soup can be a delicious appetizer that can be enjoyed by people of any age regardless of what their dental situation is. And this soup is not for the faint-hearted, it bites back. Hard. No worries if you’re not a fan of chilli and spice, I won’t judge you (out loud) you can just choose to reduce the amount of curry powder you add, omit it all together, or increase the amount of coconut milk you add when serving. f you’re not a fan of butternut, you can swap it out for another vegetable like pumpkin or cauliflower with this recipe, you will just have to adjust the cooking times as necessary.


My favourite part of this dish is actually serving it, spooning the hot soup into bowls and getting to make really pretty and unique patterns at the top with the coconut milk. That’s probably what I love the most, no two dishes will ever look the same. If you want to be fancy-schmancy, you can choose to garnish your soup with toasted coconut flakes and a mint leaf. All you have to do is heat a non-stick skillet on high heat, and add desiccated coconut/coconut flakes to the pan and cook for about a minute or until the coconut is lightly browned. Simple!


This soup works really well as a starter, served with homemade bread, or as a light lunch when you feel like being posh and minimalistic.

Thai Curry Butternut Squash Soup                                                                                           Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion; sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic; minced
  • a thumb of ginger, grated (about 2 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp minced lemongrass
  • 2 tsp red curry paste (homemade with this recipe)
  • 1 medium butternut; diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp dessicated coconut (optional)
  • Couple of sprigs of mint (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large and heavy bottomed cast iron pot on high, and fry the onions until translucent, about 2 minutes
  2. Add the minced garlic, ginger and lemongrass and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Then add the curry paste, stirring to coat the spices in the mixture  and cook for 2 minutes.
  3.  Throw in the butternut, cauliflower and carrots followed by the turmeric, cardamom and basil. Toss with a wooden spoon to ensure the vegetables are coated with spice.
  4. Pour in the 2 cups of vegetable stock and bring the mixture to a boil before reducing the heat to low and cooking until the butternut pieces are fork tender – between 20 and 25 minutes.
  5. Once the butternut has softened, remove the pot from heat and use an immersion blender to bring it all together. If you find that the soup is too thick then add vegetable broth 1/4 cup at a time until it’s loose enough for you. If you find that it’s too thin then return the pot to the stove and boil for 5 minutes or so until reduced to your liking.
  6. Ladle the soup into serving bowls. To create lovely patterns in your soup, carefully pour the coconut milk over the soup, moving the measuring cup over the bowl so as to create a pattern on the surface of the soup. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve immediately, this soup can keep for up to 3 days refrigerated, but it must be heated up on the stove before consumption.