counting on lentils

If I’m ever stuck at home during a blizzard, a hail storm, an ice storm, etc, I hope that my pantry is stocked with lentils.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Lentils have saved me more than once.  From snobby joes to lentil salads to curried lentils over rice.  Lentils are there when I need them the most.  They never fail me.  Never.  And unlike other legumes and beans, lentils don’t take hours upon hours to go from pot to plate.  They’re quick, easy, cheap, delicious.

Tonight I was craving a big ol’ bowl of spicy, chunky, lentil tacos, which made me immediately think of my favorite recipe from Runners World.

I found this recipe back when I was training for a half marathon.  I liked the idea of fitting more nutrient packed beans and legumes into my diet.  Even better, I liked the idea that this recipe was supposed to come together in under 30 minutes. 

Step 1: Olive oil, onions, celery, garlic: sizzling on medium until tender and transparent.

Step 2: Add in lentils and seasonings, cooking for 1 minute more.

I have no idea what this “one minute” actually does for your lentil taco, but I’m not one to doubt Runners World or their chefs.  So I continue to cook the lentils, spices, and onion mixture.  For exactly one minute. 

But coming from one busy cook to the next, you truly probably don’t need to. 😉

Step 3: Add in liquid and raisins (!!!)

The raisins scared me the first time around.  I mean, really?  Raisins?? 

But honestly, I wouldn’t skip this step.  I did so once and missed the sweet lil’ addition terribly.  They offset the spiciness of your salsa and the chili powder perfectly, as they soak up all those savory flavors into one plump and juicy (slightly sweet) bite.  It’s a fun addition that I never would have thought of personally, but I am thankful that Runners World did.

Step 4: Cook for about 20 minutes, until lentils are tender.  Add water as needed.  Add salsa.

Go for a nice, spicy salsa.  I’m a big fan of Newman’s Own or Old el Paso. 😀

Voila.  Dinner is served.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that I wanted a big ol’ bowl of lentil tacos for dinner tonight.  Tradition says that you roll them up in a tortilla wrap.  But tonight I opted for the non-traditional route. 

Bowl of lentil taco mixture.  Roasted veggies.  Cheezy quesadilla. 

Lentils once again saved the day.  Saved the dinner.  Quick, easy, cheap, delicious. 

It should be noted that this recipe is as forgiving as they come.  On more than one occasion, I have found myself without onions, celery or salsa.  It’s nothing that a can of diced tomatoes, some ginger, balsamic vinegar, and/or some random veggies can’t take care of. 

Also, I know the title of “lentil taco” causes you to envision—well—an actual taco, but there’s no need to stop there.  Lentils should never be limited.  I’ve put this stuff over rice and green leafy salads.  I’ve melted cheese over the top and called it a dip for my kashi crackers.  I’ve eaten it cold, I’ve eaten it hot.  I’ve eaten it every which way.  Your imagination is really and truly the only limit.

Lentil Tacos
as seen on RunnersWorld.com (with some tweaking)

  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup brown lentils, dry
  • 1-2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons dried black currants or raisins, minced
  • 1 cup salsa, plus additional for topping
  • 8 6-inch whole wheat flour tortillas

    In a large frying pan over medium heat, sauted onions, celery, and garlic in the olive oil for five minutes or until vegetables are soft. Stir in the lentils, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook for one minute. Add the broth and raisins. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender (add more water or broth as needed…I usually add in another 1-2 c. of liquid or so). Remove the lid and cook an additional 10 minutes (until lentils are thick), stirring often. Fold in the salsa. Wrap the tortillas in a damp white cotton towel and microwave on high for one minute. Spoon the lentil mixture among the tortillas. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese if desired.

Question: If you were ever to find yourself stuck home without access to a grocery store, which item would you hope to have in your pantry?

ode to fall…continued

This morning I wanted pancakes, and only pancakes would do.

Puffy, fluffy, pumpkin pancakes. 

I’ve been dreaming of making pumpkin pancakes ever since I spotted a can of Libby pumpkin sitting on the grocery shelves.  It’s the fall weather that finally convinced me to do so.

This recipe (go way, way, way down to the bottom of this post to view it) is one of my all time favorites.  Not too sweet but filled with everything you want in a pumpkin pancake.  It’s light, fluffy, and fragrant with autumn spices.  I would have used white flour if I thought it would have produced better results; after all, a girl has only so many pumpkin pancakes in her life.  But in all honesty (and this is not just my nutrition side speaking,) the whole wheat flour does wonders for this recipe.  It’s all hearty and rustic without being dense.  You’ll love it.

They’re versatile too.  I served scrambled eggs, oranges and maple syrup for my parents…

…and slathered mine with almond butter and sliced bananas because it just seemed oh so right.

My craving for making (and eating) a plate of pumpkin pancakes = fulfilled.

The leftover pancakes (because this recipe makes at least 18 good sized pancakes) can be cooled on a wire rack, much in the same way you might cool a muffin or a batch of fresh cookies.  You’ll avoid soggy bottoms, and then you can pop them in a freezer bag for an easy weekday breakfast throughout the week.

With a belly full of deliciously energizing carbs, it was time to walk.

I have been absolutely and completely absorbed with fall lately.  The fresh and crispy air.  Colorful New England leaves.  Warm, cozy sweatshirts.  Comfy weekend jeans.  Spicy, pumpkin flavors.  Mmm…I think I want fall to stay around forever.  Do you think winter would oblige?

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
As seen on AllRecipes by Ruth, with minor tweaks here and there
Serves 6

  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3 T. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • dash of cloves
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 c. milk
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 2 T. vinegar

In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.  Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.  Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine (do not over mix.)

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 c. for each pancake.  Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Question: What is your favorite thing to serve ON THE SIDE or ON TOP OF of your pancakes?  As you can see, I am totally obsessed with all things fall and all things pancake lately.  Please forgive me.  :mrgreen:

I love…

I love starting my day with a couple of sweet, sticky dates and a sweaty 4 mile run. 

I love it when breakfast turns out oh so right. 

Chia French Toast

  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • splash of milk
  • cinnamon + nutmeg
  • 1 T. raisins
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and chia seeds.  Meanwhile, heat nonstick pan (sprayed with cooking spray) on medium heat.
  2. When pan is hot, dunk bread into egg mixture on both sides.  Place on hot pan.
  3. Flip once one side is golden brown.  Flip and cook the other side until brown and toasty.
  4. Top with favorite toppings—almond butter and raspberry jam are my personal faves. 😀

I love salads that include all of my favorite things.

From cheesesticks to olive oil to garden fresh tomatoes.  Love.

I love it when lunch is made up of a big green salad…

…and fizz…

…and fuzz.

I love a voluminous lunch filled with nothing but summer.

I love PB&Company Bee’s Knees Peanut Butter.

I love yogurt with flax and granola.

I love peanut butter on yogurt with flax and granola.

Love.

I love visiting my Pepere and talking about his 8 ft.+ tall tomato plant.

I love laughing with him, at the way the plant peaks through the window.

I love laughing.

I love it when Pepere serves out appetizers while mom cooks the meal.

I love unsalted pretzels better then salted pretzels (?!?)

I love these little yellow bowls, filled with memories of when Memere used to serve us grandkids icecream in the morning (complete with sprinkles) after a sleep over.

Love.

I love chicken topped with garlic powder, paprika, olive oil and parsley.  Especially when grilled and served with oven roasted potatoes, ketchup and farm fresh green beans.

I love listening to Pepere share stories of his farm in Canada. 

I love eating and chatting with family.  Love.

I love my mom’s homemade blueberry pie.

What am I saying?

Everyone loves my mom’s homemade blueberry pie.

I love a cozy, relaxing, liesurely walk after dinner.

I love the fresh air.  The birds.  The company.  The way the setting sun kisses the trees, and watching them blush into a glorious orange. 

I love finding a random apple tree in the middle of a walk.

I love it when dad takes a bite of a small shiny apple.  I love that we all wait and watch his reaction before following suit.  I love that he exclaims it’s delicious.  Delicious.

I love it when we continue on our walk, leaving this simple pleasure behind for someone else to discover.

I love it when the clouds look as if they’ve been painted into the sky.  God is such an artist.

I love the end of a cool summer day.

I love the simple things of life that make me stop and smile.

Love.

Question: What are some of the things that you loved about today?

HAPPY FRIDAY!! 😀