Tag Archives: red lentils

Curried Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Dip

This is a sweet, hearty, and unquestionably addictive dip made from red lentils and a pureed sweet potato.  Served alongside some gluten-free crackers and raw onion bread, this dip was a huge hit at my sister’s Annual Boxing Day Party.

I adapted this recipe from Mathew Kadey’s “Curry Lentil Squash Dip” . Not having a winter squash in my pantry,  I decided a sweet potato would make a delicious and easy substitution.      Curried Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Dip and Spread

This satisfying dip is chock-full of antioxidants, fiber, and protein.  It also contains no oil which is often hard to avoid in so many dips. It’s also pretty awesome spread on toast the next morning! 🙂


  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 sweet potato, cooked, skinned and pureed
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Rinse red lentils and place in a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until lentils are tender. Drain excess liquid and let cool.

Once lentils have cooled, blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Wishing you all lots of love, joy and laughter for the remaining holiday season! May 2014 be a happy and healthy year for you all!

Vitamin D and a big bowl of stew

Where we live, if you wake up to a beautiful, mid-winter, sunny day, you grab your coat and hat and head outside!  We did just that on the weekend – for “a little vitamin D” as the saying goes. Sunshine can be rare these days, so we decided to celebrate this good weather with a little snowshoeing.

We got lots of exercise and fresh air, but the question is did we get our vitamin D?  You see, we live approximately 45 degrees north of the Equator.  This time of year the sun’s rays are not that strong.  However, when reflected off the snow, the sun’s ultra-violet rays double in strength.

Vitamin D is all the talk these days.  It is considered an important vitamin in the prevention of many acute illnesses and chronic diseases.  As the media continuously reports, most of us Canadians are deficient in this vitamin.

The best source of vitamin D is produced by our skin after sun exposure.  There are some food sources such as, fortified grains, fortified plant-based and animal-based milk, fish, and cod liver oil.  However, all these food sources have a minimal amount of vitamin D compared to what our bodies can make from the sun.

A plant-based diet is not the cause of a vitamin D deficiency.  A vitamin D deficiency is a sign of sunlight deficiency.

According to Dr. Matt Lederman, a lecturer in the Plant-Based Nutrition Program at Cornell, vitamin D is made by our bodies when 50% to 75% of our skin is exposed to UVB light.  That is, the sunlight we experience around noon hour.  If you have the skin type which easily burns and rarely tans, like myself, then only 15 minutes in the sun is required. The darker your skin type, the longer your skin should be exposed to sunlight.

Lederman also suggests that the day’s UV index must be 3 or higher for your body to make vitamin D.  If you check out this chart from Environment Canada for today, only a few cities in Canada, and these cities were in southern Ontario, ever got to a UV index of 3.

If getting vitamin D from the sun is unlikely due to your geographic location,  your inability to get outside in the sunlight, or your concern with unprotected sun exposure,  then supplementation may be required.

When taking vitamin D supplements, be cautious as to avoid toxicity.  I believe that supplements should be treated like medicine and taken under the care of a health care provider.  If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, get some blood work done.

Vitamin D supplements are generally derived from sheep’s wool or fish oil.  Vitashine does make an organic, non GMO plant-based vitamin D supplement made from lichens.


After a good few hours in the snow, we went home to a big bowl of Sweet Potato Lentil Stew.  It is hearty and absolutely perfect as a meal on a cold winter’s day.

This recipe comes from Dreena Burton’s cookbook, eat, drink and be vegan. You will find the exact recipe here.  I made the oil-free version and added an extra garlic. 🙂

A Soup to Warm the Body and Soul

For me, there is no other spice as warming and calming as curry.  This hearty, nutritious soup is made with the fragrant spices of curry, coriander, and cumin and some quick cooking red lentils. I thought a good bowl was in order for us today when we woke to a crisp temperature of minus 14 degrees Celsius.


This recipe comes from an old copy of one of my Living Without magazines.  As suggested in the recipe, I added some chopped organic green kale to my soup, but you can add other greens as well.  Kale has become a staple food in our house.  Like all staples, kale seems to vanish ever so fast in a busy home.  When there is no kale to be had, broccoli is delicious, too.


  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup (or more!) green kale*, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin

In a large soup pot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the diced onions, celery, carrot, and salt and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes and curry powder and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add the rinsed red lentils, kale, broth, water, coriander and cumin.  Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium low, cover the pot and cook for about 15 minutes.

You can serve the soup chunky or puree it in a blender.  My clan prefers it chunky with a big piece of gluten-free bread lathered in coconut spread.

Kale is considered one of the world’s healthiest vegetable.  It’s high in iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, anti-oxidants AND is considered an anti-inflammatory food.  Adding kale to your soups (or smoothies!) is a wonderful way of introducing you and your family to this powerful veggie.

Indian-Spiced Lentil Hemp Patties

lentil patties 

This recipe comes from one of my favourite vegan cookbooks and resource, “Whole Foods to Thrive: Nutrient-Dense, Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health” by Brendan Brazier.   Brendan, a plant-based nutrition expert, is the formulator of Vega products and a professional triathlete. I have met him twice  and each time I am clearly “star struck”.

On with the recipe…..

Turmeric, ginger, coriander and cumin spices give this dish a very distinct flavour.  These “wonder” spices are high in antioxidants, ease digestion and help tame inflammation – beneficial for those suffering from arthritis, Chron’s, IBS and other inflammatory conditions.

I love the amount of protein in these guys.  This recipe contains 1 ¼ cups cooked red lentils which is over 18 grams of protein.   Also, the hemp seeds in this recipe, albeit only 3 tablespoons,  add roughly an additional 20 grams!  If you ate all of these patties at once,  and believe me you’ll be tempted to do so,  you would be getting a good portion of your daily protein requirement.

These patties are a wonderful make ahead meal and they are super easy to prepare.   If I do have extra time, I like to make smaller patties and place some in the freezer for those crazy, busy nights.   They travel well in small containers and can be eaten as finger food – perfect when eating out for lunch or dinner (at the skating rink on most nights, in our case).   Hope you enjoy this uber-nutritious dish!



  • 2-3 tbsp. coconut oil*, for frying
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion,
  • 1 cup diced red pepper*
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ cup hemp seeds
  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 ¼ cups cooked red lentils
  • ½ tsp sea salt, or to taste

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and saute the onion, celery, and red pepper until the vegetables are soft.  Add the garlic and saute for about 1 more minute.  Remove vegetables from the heat and let cool .  Scoop mixture into a food processor or large mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients to the vegetable mixture.  Pulse mixture a few times in a food processor or, if you do not have a food processor, mash some lentils with a fork. (Lentils that are well mashed make it easier to form patties). Adjust salt as needed.  Hand shape mixture into patties of desired size.

Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Cook patties until brown on both sides.

*Coconut oil, made from the fat found in the meat of a coconut, is one of the best oils for frying. Unlike other oils, coconut oil does not lose its antioxidant benefits or nutritional value when heated. I love the flavour that it adds to dishes – a little nutty, a little like coconut. When shopping for coconut oil, choose virgin oil over refined. Virgin oil means that the fat was not extracted using chemicals.

*Red peppers, as well as other nightshade vegetables, have been known to aggravate inflammation in the body. It may be wise to eliminate this vegetable from the patties, if one suffers from any inflammatory conditions.

I have to share this one!  Here I am chatting with Brendan Brazier at “The Seed: A Vegan Experience” in New York City, June 2012.

Brendan Brazier