I think I may give up meat for a while; since I’ve completely missed the boat on lent, it would seem my efforts are in the name of, well, giving up meat. Not quite as much fanfare but still a worthwhile cause.
Although there are many who give up meat, and claim to be healthier for it; I know, and have known, many a vegetarian or vegan who was far from it. There are a whole host of unhealthy foods that have not one animal product in them.
Legumes are an excellent way to offer variety to a vegetarian diet; and they offer a great deal when it comes to satiety. Simply put, they fill you up and have the ability to taste great! Lentils are one of my favorite legumes, as they find themselves well placed in so many meals; from brownies, yes brownies, to curries, lentils are an incredibly dexterous kitchen staple.
Lentils come in a variety of colors, including green, brown and red; green and brown containing the highest levels of nutrients and fiber. Lentils are an abundantly rich source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, which helps protect our bodies from cancer and cardiovascular disease; in addition to plant chemicals called isoflavones. Isoflavones may offer protection from cancer and coronary heart disease and contain lignan; lignan has a mild estrogen like effect that may lower the risk of cancer, minimize premenstrual syndrome (ladies!) and protect against osteoporosis.
This past week, in addition to deciding I was going to give up meat as a challenge; I also decided that no matter what Mother Nature throws at Edmonton I was going to start grilling. But it snowed, thwarting my plan completely; so I busted out my grill pan and made like it was July!
Grilling fennel takes away the bitter black licorice flavor and brings out its underlying sweetness; and with a touch of red chili flakes, there is a well placed heat that serves to elevate this dish. When paired with creamy coconut lentils, by George I think we’ve got ourselves a meal!
Coconut Lentils with Grilled Fennel
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin
¼ tsp salt
2 cups cooked sprouted lentils
½ cup fresh mint, chopped
1/3 cup coconut milk
Pepper to taste
3 large fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved and core removed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp red chili flakes
In a large bowl, toss the trimmed fennel bulbs with olive oil, chili flakes, lemon juice and salt. Heat a medium sized grill pan on medium heat and grill the fennel on each side for 4 minutes each; if you notice the fennel beginning to color too quickly turn the heat down a little. Once all sides have been grilled remove from heat, cover and set aside.
Heat oil in a sauce pan on medium, add garlic cloves and cumin; cook for 3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add the salt and lentils and toss to coat with coconut oil; cook for 3 minutes, until the lentils have been heated through. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 2 minutes.
Serve with grilled fennel and garnish with chopped mint.