Lentil-Vegetable Couscous Stew

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A steaming bowl of soup is my favorite meal in cold weather, but it doesn’t travel well. I was inspired to make this stew when I was making soup and thinking about how difficult it would be to bring to work for lunch. Adding some whole-wheat couscous took care of the liquid but preserved the flavor, and the dish turned out to be just as filling and warming as a soup.

This is a simple recipe that could be changed in so many ways. The ratio of broth, vegetables, and couscous is important so you end up with the right consistency of stew, but you can throw in any vegetables you have on hand. Different spice and herb combinations would work, too, but I recommend using the goat cheese every time to add a bit of creaminess.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 32 oz low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 oz goat cheese
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium in a large soup pot. Chop carrots, red pepper, and sweet potato (with skin on) and saute in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the lentils, broth, bay leaf, onion powder, oregano, and thyme to the pot. Bring to a boil and then drop heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. 074
  3. Remove the bay leaf, and add the salt, couscous, and goat cheese. Stir, drop the heat to low, and cover the pot. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, until the liquid is all absorbed. Stir to incorporate the goat cheese. 076
  4. Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach and vinegar until spinach wilts.
  5. Serve topped with parsley and parmesan cheese.

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Serves 4 to 6. Active time 20 minutes; total time 50 minutes.

Boloco: Make Your Own Bowl or Burrito

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If you live in New England, Boloco is probably already on your radar. Its burritos come in flavors inspired by many cuisines—you could call them wraps, really, since only a couple of the choices are typical Mexican fare. Their menu has many options for those trying to avoid heartburn.

The best option for GERD is to make your own bowl or burrito. Walk down the ingredient line to see what’s there, as it can be tough to find all of the options just by reading the menu. My most recent bowl (pictured here) featured quinoa, baby kale, broccoli, chicken, black beans, corn salsa, carrots, cilantro, and cheese. I also recommend the roasted mushrooms, butternut squash, carnitas, celery, pinto beans, beets, cucumbers, and brown rice.

I didn’t put a sauce on this particular bowl because the ingredients have so much flavor. The Thai peanut and tikka masala sauces are both delicious, but you’ll want to order them on the side and use sparingly to spare your throat.

Sometimes I order a mini burrito so I can save room for a shake. The Jimmy Carter (peanut butter, banana, and yogurt) is my favorite, but the seasonal pumpkin shake is a welcome treat as well. Boloco is a restaurant WIN in many ways!

Hummus-Avocado Veggie Sandwich

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Cold cuts make me shudder. Their slimy texture and uniform shape lead me to suspect that I’m eating fake food—and that’s probably true. But peanut butter sandwiches, to me, are for breakfast or for hiking, so I need lunchtime alternatives to deli meat.

This sandwich is simple, savory, and full of vegetables. You can substitute any veggies as long as they’re thinly sliced. I smeared each piece of bread with something creamy: avocado on one side and hummus on the other. A slice of cheese would be a good substitute for one of those, though.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pieces of whole-grain bread (gluten-free if desired)
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1/4 of an avocado
  • roasted red pepper hummus
  • dried oregano
  • handful of baby spinach

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Put the bread slices in the toaster. While you wait for them to toast, peel the carrots, and thinly slice them on a heavy angle. IMG_5941
  2. Spread one piece of toast with the avocado, and spread hummus on the other piece. Sprinkle oregano on the hummus.
  3. Fill the sandwich with carrots and spinach. Cut it in half and serve with any remaining carrot slices on the side.

Serves 1. Active and total time 10 minutes.

Pumpkin & White Bean Bisque

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Spring has sprung, according to the calendar, but in New England that’s a technicality. Mornings, evenings, and sometimes days are chilly, and a hot bowl of soup is as welcome as it was in the winter. I’ve been meaning to try this recipe for months, and based on the forecast, I didn’t have to rush to get it in ahead of warmer weather.

This soup has the silkiest texture. It’s the only soup I’ve made that I would call a bisque! The combination of pumpkin, pureed beans, and milk is so smooth and feels professionally crafted. I chose to spice it with sage, thyme, and onion powder; cumin or basil would also be interesting. Either way, you can make this soup a bit richer by adding a drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to each bowl.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 15.5-oz can white beans
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the sage and thyme and simmer for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, beans, pumpkin, and onion powder. Raise the heat until the soup comes to a bubble, and then put it back to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and parsley. Remove the pot from heat and puree the soup well with an immersion blender. IMG_5417
  4. Return the pot to low heat. Add the milk, vinegar, and coriander; stir and heat through. Serve topped with parsley and more salt to taste.

Serves 4. Active time 20 minutes; total time 30 minutes. Adapted from http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com/2013/11/pumpkin-and-white-bean-bisque-with-sage-pesto-and-dill-rolls.html

Vegetarian Fried Rice

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I’ve never walked away from a take-out Chinese meal feeling good, so I had given up this type of food long before heartburn became an issue. This narrows my take-out options, though, and I do miss the texture of fried rice. This at-home version really hits the spot. There’s definitely something missing, compared to the restaurant version—but I suspect that something is pork fat and MSG.

This is a fun dish to make. Scrambling the egg in the skillet makes me feel like a professional cook, and it’s cool how quickly the stir-fry comes together. To prepare for the speedy cooking time, be sure to prep all ingredients and tools before you put anything in the pan. Also, using cold rice is imperative for the texture. I used a package of precooked rice from Trader Joe’s that I had put in the fridge a few hours ahead of time.

Once you get the gist of this stir-fry method, you can substitute the ingredients for variety. Peas are traditional in fried rice, but I’ve always hated them, so I used spinach instead. Pea pods, chopped eggplant, baby corn, mushrooms, and any type of meat would also be great in here. I’ll post again if I come across a particularly compelling variation.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cups cold cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup frozen edamame (no pods), thawed
  • 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg white
  • 3 drops light soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
  • 3 drops sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped baby spinach (measured after chopping)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add carrots and onion powder and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  2. Add rice, thawed edamame, and ginger, and stir-fry for 3 minutes, breaking up the rice with a spatula. Add the soy sauce and stir well.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the drops of soy sauce and sesame oil.
  4. Push the rice mixture to the sides of the pan to leave a hole in the middle. Add the eggs and scramble, stirring often and scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan, for about 1 minute. IMG_5000
  5. Mix the eggs into the rest of the dish. Then stir in the vinegar, sesame oil, and spinach.
  6. Turn off heat and stir for a minute to wilt the greens a bit; add cilantro and serve.

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