Lentils with Tahini, Cumin, and Garlic

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on November 20, 2014

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With all of this cold weather we’ve been having, I’ve been craving something savory and filling. Lentils and beans are two of my go-two wintery foods because they’re high in protein and fiber – which makes them satisfying and perfect for a hearty dish.

I came across this recipe a while ago from one of my favorite cookbook authors: Yotam Ottolenghi. He is a lentil aficionado – and describes them as the ultimate comfort food, a staple perfect for an easy meal at home. I tend to agree – I’ll often turn to lentils, beans, etc. over potatoes or pasta when I’m looking for a quick fix for a veggie friendly meal.

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This recipe is no exception. I took Yotam’s recipe and modified it heavily to make it healthier (but still just as delicious as the original!). This “meal on a plate” has the essence of hummus with its mediterranean flavors, but can be eaten as a one-pot meal with some naan, pita, or crusty whole wheat bread.

The husband was pleasantly surprised with how this recipe turned out, and the next day we pureed it and used it as a dip! Serve it with some sliced red onions and cilantro on top, and you are good to go.

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The Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 red onion – diced
  • 1/4 red onion – thinly sliced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 16oz cooked le puy green lentils (you can get them pre-cooked at Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

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The Directions

Step 1: Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onion, tomatoes, cumin and coriander, and cook for a minute.

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Step 2: Add the carrots, salt, pepper, and cayenne, cook until the carrots are slightly soft – about 5 minutes.

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Step 3: Add the cooked lentils, tahini paste, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, stirring, for a few minutes more, until hot and thickened.

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Step 4: Spread out the lentils on a flat platter and scatter on the sliced onion and cilantro.

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This recipe is vegan and gluten free but it’s so tasty and unique – you won’t miss the meat at all. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

Lentils with Tahini, Cumin, and Garlic

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 261

Fat per serving: 10.6g

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 261 Calories, 10.6g Fat (1.5g Saturated), 355.4mg Sodium, 32.5g Carbs, 11.7g Fiber, 2.6g Sugar, 12.8g Protein

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 red onion - diced
  • 1/4 red onion - thinly sliced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp Salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 16oz cooked le puy green lentils (you can get them pre-cooked at Trader Joe's)
  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onion, tomatoes, cumin and coriander, and cook for a minute.
  2. Add the carrots, salt, pepper, and cayenne, cook until the carrots are slightly soft - about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked lentils, tahini paste, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, stirring, for a few minutes more, until hot and thickened.
  4. Spread out the lentils on a flat platter and scatter on the sliced onion and cilantro.

Notes

http://pickyeaterblog.com/lentils-with-tahini-cumin-and-garlic/

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What’s The Best Organic Formula For Your Baby?

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on November 13, 2014

Desktop4We’ve all heard the advice: “Breast is best.” Exclusively breastfeed until your baby is 1 year old. Nurse on demand. Formula is “poison.” For a few moms, that advice is easy to follow: they had a natural birth, had so much milk they could donate it, breastfeeding was pain-free, and their baby latched effortlessly. And while I wish it were that easy, unfortunately for many moms, it’s not.

Breastfeeding is HARD. Not hard as in “oh this is hard I don’t feel like doing it,” but hard as in: my baby won’t latch; I have low milk supply; my baby isn’t gaining weight; I physically can’t breastfeed because I have a health condition; my nipples are sore/bleeding/cracked/blistered; I’m in excruciating pain; I have no place to pump at work; I have mastitis; I’ve seen x# of lactation consultants and I’m still having problems nursing; etc.

Since I’ve had Layla, I’ve gotten a bunch of questions from new moms about breastfeeding, baby food, and what formulas – if any – are safe and healthy for their little ones. For me, nursing was one of the most physically and emotionally challenging parts of new motherhood. Many of the early days ended in tears over it. But because I had a decent supply (and I knew many moms who didn’t have enough/any milk at all), I decided to stick with it. It was difficult and challenging every day, but I nursed and pumped for the first 6 months, started weaning around 6.5 months and fully weaned by 7.5/8 months. There was no way I was going to make it to a year, and I was ok with that.

I know a lot of moms feel guilt over weaning early, or not being able to breastfeed as much a they’d like – but honestly, whatever makes you a better, happier mom is what you should do. If you love breastfeeding, great! But if you need to supplement or switch to formula, that’s ok too. The most important thing is the love you give to your baby, and that you and your baby are happy and healthy.

And so, since I knew I was going to need formula for Layla once I weaned, I did a ton of research trying to find the healthiest formula on the market today, and ended up finding a wonderful, healthy formula that I felt good about giving Layla (more on that in a sec!)

Disclaimers before we start:

** Organic formulas are more expensive than regular formula. I realize that not every parent has the financial means to buy organic formula for their little ones, and that is ok! If you don’t have the means, just do what you can for your baby. No judgments here.

** Not every baby likes every formula. Some formulas constipate some babies. Again, if you try the formulas I recommend and they don’t work for your baby – that’s ok too!

** I am advocating a world of no judgments when it comes to breastfeeding or formula feeding. All you can do as a mom is your best. Whether you breastfeed for a year, or 6 months or 1 month, or 0 months doesn’t make you a better or worse mother. A happy healthy mom and happy healthy baby is all that matters.

Now – here it is: a breakdown of all of the organic baby formulas on the market, and which ones are the best. 

What I learned in my research is that the US doesn’t have very strict standards when it comes to organic baby formula. Ingredients that really shouldn’t be in baby formula appear all the time in many organic brands.

The ingredients that shouldn’t appear in organic formula (as outlined by the National Organic Standards Board and are banned in the EU) include:

1) Processed Refined Sugars (Syrup, Syrup Solids) – corn syrup (glucose syrup solids), maltodextrin (a partially hydrolyzed starch derived from corn, rice, or potatoes), sugar, or brown rice syrup. Manufacturers use these because they are cheaper than lactose (which is what should be in formula).

2) Synthetic DHA and ARA - DHA and ARA are naturally found in breastmilk, but the DHA and ARA added to formula are extracted from algae and fungus, often using hexane (a neurotoxic petroleum-based solvent). The National Organic Standards Board has guidelines against this, but the USDA still allows it in organic formulas sold in the US.

3) Synthetic Preservatives - ascorbic palmitate and beta carotene are the common ones here.

4) Synthetic Nutrients – this includes lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, l-carnitine and l-methionine. These are banned in formulas in the EU, but are allowed in the US (go figure). I won’t go into details on each nutrient listed above, but essentially – many are processed with neurotoxic solvents or are either themselves listed as a toxic ingredient.

Note: Palm Oil is in most formulas (EU & US), but it can form “soaps” in the baby’s intestines – which can cause digestive issues/gas/etc.

Unfortunately, almost every single formula in the US market has one or more of these ingredients included. Even the EU formulas have Palm Oil (but they have less of it than the US formulas, and so it doesn’t cause digestive issues). That being said, organic formula is still better than conventional formula – because at least organic formula is made with non-GMO ingredients and the milk used is hormone free.

So what’s a mom to do? Order your formula online from the EU if you can! Hipp Organic and Holle are the two best infant formulas out there. 

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Hipp Organic and Holle Organic are two brands from the EU that have wonderful ingredient lists for their formulas. Hipp is the best, in my opinion and Holle is a close second. I used Hipp for Layla, and it has been working great for us. You can see the ingredients here, and you can buy it with free shipping to the US here. For Holle – you can see the ingredients here, and you can buy it with free shipping to the US here.

Here is a chart of the organic baby formulas out there, outlining which have the ingredients above. The chart is ranked from best to worst formula. At the top of the chart I’ve included a hypothetical line for the “ideal” formula – so you have something to measure all of the other formulas against. In the US, Baby’s Only formula is probably your best bet.

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The Bottom Line:

** There is no perfect formula, but some are still much better than others.

** Baby’s Only is probably the best in the US (that you can buy at your local grocery store).

** If you can afford it, shipping your formula from Europe is the absolute best way to go, and Hipp Organic is the best formula out there!

 

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Chickpea Stuffed Pita Sandwiches with Yogurt Sauce

November 12, 2014
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Whole wheat pitas are a great base for any sandwich. Low in calories, high in whole grains and fiber, and just enough of a fluffy texture reminiscent of bread – I love stuffing pitas with just about anything for a healthy lunch or dinner. The husband and I both love falafel and mediterranean food, but […]

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A National Chocolate Day Giveaway from Next Organics!

October 28, 2014
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National Chocolate Day is today!! What an amazing holiday right? One devoted entirely to chocolate. My dessert weakness is definitely chocolate, and I always end my day with a couple pieces of dark chocolate — sometimes with a tiny bit of red wine for a health(ier) treat. So in honor of national chocolate day and my […]

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Vegetarian Tortilla Soup with Black Beans

October 24, 2014
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We have been making a lot of soups in our house lately. Mainly because: as a busy parent, they are such easy go-to-one-pot meals; soups are super easy for babies to eat (thanks to them being relatively soft); and soups are perfect in fall weather! I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, who has turned […]

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Sneaky Zucchini Lasagna and a Giveaway from Snack Girl!

September 22, 2014
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Photo credit: SnackGirl   Hi Everyone! This month’s giveaway comes from one of my favorite healthy food bloggers – Lisa Cain at SnackGirl! Lisa makes healthy food super easy and simple – through her family-friendly recipes and real-life solutions for losing weight and getting healthy. She recently wrote an amazing cookbook – Snack Girl to […]

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