Red Lentil Soup with Lemon, Rosemary, and Feta Cheese

DSC_0373I love cooking with red lentils. Red lentils are sweet and nutty in flavour, and only take about 20-30 minutes to fully cook. Once cooked, red lentils tend to become mushy and break apart which makes them perfect for Indian curries and dahls as well as for thickening soups and stews.

This red lentil soup is a light recipe that is packed with flavour. The use of lemon juice and zest adds a brightness to the dish, while the feta cheese topping adds great texture. For a light lunch, serve this soup with fresh whole grain bread or pita.

This recipe is adapted from Rebar Modern Food cookbook. Rebar is a delicious restaurant in Victoria, BC. _______________________________________________________________________________________

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon, Rosemary, and Feta Cheese

Makes ~ 10 cups

Ingredients:

2 cups of red lentils

2 tbsp canola oil

1 large cooking onion, chopped

8 garlic cloves, minced

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1 tbsp dried oregano

2 bay leaves

8 cups low sodium vegetable broth

Zest of 1 lemon (organic if possible)

Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Feta cheese (as per preference)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened.
  2. Add carrot, garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves. Stir well and cook until carrots are fork tender.
  3. Add lentils and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Remove bay leave, and then using an immersion blender or food processor, puree soup.
  6. Mix in lemon juice and zest
  7. Top soup with feta cheese and any other additional seasonings as per preference.

** My favourite brand of feta cheese is Arvand – Danish style feta. It is delicious and comes in reduced fat and reduced salt varieties.

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Recipe adapted from Rebar Modern Food cookbook

Basic Granola

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Granola has a reputation for being healthful and natural, but many packaged brands contain excessive amounts of sugar, salt, saturated fats, and other not so natural ingredients. If you’re someone who enjoys granola, I recommend trying to make your own. This basic granola recipe is great because it is very versatile and is quick and easy to make . You can add in whatever nuts/seeds you have as well as any assortment of dried fruits, coconut flakes, and spices. When I make granola I tend to skip adding dried fruit, but will instead add fresh fruit right before I eat it.

Remember to be careful with your portion size when enjoying granola (even homemade!). Half of a cup can provide about 300 calories. If half a cup of cereal just doesn’t feel like enough, try mixing this granola with a low calorie, higher fibre cereal like Fibre 1 Crunchy Original or Shredded Wheat

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Basic Granola

Makes ~ 8 cups

Ingredients:

1/4 cup safflower oil

1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

6 cups rolled oats (not quick or instant)

2 cups mixed nuts, coarsely chopped (almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp flax seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. In a small pot mix together oil, honey or syrup, and vanilla. Warm over low heat.
  3. Combine oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut in a large bowl. Pour warmed oil mixture over top and stir until all of the ingredients are coated.
  4. Spread the granola over 2 un-greased baking sheets.
  5. Bake for 20- 30 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes to prevent clumping.

** I find that it’s best to cook the trays separately so that you can place each of them in the middle of the oven. This way you are less likely to burn any of the ingredients.

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Recipe adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health – 2009

Swiss Chard, Mushroom, and Feta Crust-less Quiche

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DSC_0385This Swiss chard, mushroom, and feta crust-less quiche is a good choice for a protein rich breakfast or a quick evening meal. I find that this quiche holds together really well on its own. However, other crust-less quiche recipes suggest adding a bit of flour to help create a more substantial “crust-less” crust.                   Serve this quiche with a slice or two of whole grain bread and a handful of other veggies like carrot sticks and sliced tomato for a more complete meal.

Swiss chard is another great green that you can easily blend or mix into a variety of recipes. Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, vitamin E, and iron.

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Swiss Chard, Mushroom and Feta Crust-less Quiche
Makes 6 servings
 
Ingredients:
 
1 cup white mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch fresh Swiss chard, washed and chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup low sodium feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
Pepper as per preference
 
Instructions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9″ pie plate.
  2. Wash the mushrooms and chop them finely. Place the sliced mushrooms in a fry pan with a small amount of oil and cook over low-moderate heat.
  3. Add the minced garlic, and sprinkle a little salt and pepper. Turn the heat on to medium-high and saute the mushrooms until they release all of their moisture and no more water remains on the bottom of the skillet (5-7 minutes).
  4. Turn the heat down and add washed and chopped Swiss chard to the fry pan in large handfuls. Allow each handful to begin to wilt before adding another.
  5. Squeeze as much of the water out of the Swiss chard and mushroom mixture. Spread it out on the bottom of the pie dish.
  6. Add the crumbled feta.
  7. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs until fairly smooth. Add the milk and a small sprinkle of pepper. Whisk to combine.
  8. Pour the egg mixture into the pie dish over the spinach, mushrooms, and feta.
  9. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over top.
  10. Place the quiche into the preheated oven and bake until it is golden brown on top and it begins to pull away from the sides ~ 40-45 minutes.
  11. Allow to cool slightly, then slice and serve.

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Spinach Walnut Pesto with Whole Wheat Fettuccine

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Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are some of the best foods that you can eat to improve your health. They are low in calories and packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre. Despite the many benefits associated with eating vegetables like leafy greens, many Canadian’s tend to fall short of their recommended number of servings per day. One of the easiest ways to incorporate more greens into your diet is by blending them into foods such as baked goods, soups, and sauces – like pesto.

This spinach walnut pesto has a milder flavour than a basil pesto, so you may need to add more pepper or garlic to get it to the right taste for you. If you like the flavour of walnuts you could try using walnut oil instead of olive oil.

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Spinach Walnut Pesto with Whole Wheat Fettuccine

Makes ~4 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and patted/spun dry
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
12 oz (375 g) whole wheat fettuccine
Directions:
Pasta
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add pasta, stirring to separate strands.
  2. Boil the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente.

* You will need to stir the fettuccine occasionally to prevent it from clumping together or sticking to bottom of pot.

Pesto
  1. Place all ingredients into food processor and process to a fine paste.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings as per preference.

Assembly

  1. Mix pesto with pasta and top with additional Parmesan cheese and black pepper as desired.
  2. Serve hot with a green salad or fresh tomatoes

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