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.

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.

Pasta with Mushrooms & Artichoke-Red Pepper Sauce

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This is the fastest, easiest dinner I’ve made in a long time—and it includes a homemade sauce! In less than 30 minutes, this vegetable-filled pasta dish comes together with a thick, pesto-like sauce. Add chicken sausage if you’re in the mood for meat, but this meal is plenty filling on its own.

The romesco sauce, which is made mostly of artichokes, was one of my early recipes for The Low-Acid Kitchen. I was happy to find that it’s still as tasty as when I first created the recipe. It doesn’t have the tangy bite of traditional tomato- and vinegar-filled pasta sauces, but it ties together a satisfying meal.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 7 oz high-fiber pasta
  • ingredients for a double batch of romesco sauce
  • sea salt
  • 6 oz mixed baby spinach and arugula
  • handful of parsley leaves
  • parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat, and set a medium pot of water over high heat to boil.
  2. Add the mushrooms to the pan, cover it, and cook for 8 minutes or until browned. Stir occasionally. IMG_5469
  3. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.
  4. Meanwhile, use a mini-chop or food processor to make the sauce.
  5. When mushrooms are browned, add salt to taste. Then drop the heat to low. Add the sauce and the greens to the mushroom pan, and add the lid to heat through while the pasta finishes cooking. IMG_5471
  6. Add the drained pasta and stir. Sprinkle with parsley and parmesan cheese before serving.

Serves 4. Active and total time 25 minutes.

Salad with Ginger Dressing & Kale Chips

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With its prohibition of citrus and strict limits on vinegar and oil, the low-acid diet does not make it easy to eat salad. Most of the salads I make use quinoa as a base instead of lettuce. To dress a green salad lightly and still enjoy it, you need to add something that keeps the palate interested.

Two textures made this salad a success: kale chips and ginger. The baked kale adds a salty, bitter crunch, while the grated ginger makes the dressing both thick and spicy. If you don’t feel like making kale chips, I suggest using toasted almonds as an alternative (but less interesting) crunchy topper.

Kale chips are easy to make. This was my first time trying it because in the past I’ve been too lazy to go through the effort of drying the kale. These leaves weren’t totally dry, so some of the chips stayed green instead of turning brown. I was happy to discover that the green chips were just as crunchy as the browned ones.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 to 5 cups packed kale leaves
  • olive oil spray
  • sea salt
  • 2 cups baby spinach/arugula mix
  • 1/2 cup chopped snow peas or snap peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • handful of cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • pinch of onion powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the kale from the stems and tear it into bite-sized pieces. Wash and dry well in a salad spinner. Then dry the leaves completely on a towel.
  2. Arrange the kale in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets, and coat with olive oil spray. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and cook for 10 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven when some of the pieces are very brown, even if some of the other pieces are still green.
  3. While the kale is baking, add greens, peas, pepper, and cilantro to a large bowl.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, oil, honey, ginger, and onion powder. Stir well. IMG_5355
  5. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss well to coat. Arrange the salad on a large plate.
  6. When the kale chips are done, sprinkle a few on top of the salad and serve.
  7. Store extra kale chips at room temperature.
Serves 1. Active time 15 minutes; total time 20 minutes.

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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