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Recipe: Lentil and Spinach Coconut Curry

This light and fresh curry is perfect for a quick meal.  It’s a dish with a lot of flavor but relatively few calories.  You can use any type or color of lentils you want, but larger varieties will need to cook for a longer period of time.  All varieties are chock full o’ protein, fiber, B vitamins (especially folate) and iron.  Lentils, like flaxseeds also have lignans – phytochemicals that act as antioxidants (among other functions).

Though you may have seen my recent coconut oil myth, coconut milk has more nutritional benefits for fewer calories.  It’s rich in minerals and may have positive effects on HDL (“good”) cholesterol. However, it is very high in fat (1 cup has about 445 calories, 403 of which are from fat).  Here, I add water and coconut milk, which lightens the dish and the caloric load!

Lentil and Spinach Coconut Curry

Serves 8

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1” piece of ginger, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper (or combine 2 teaspoons of sweet paprika with ½ teaspoon of cayenne)
  • 2 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 6 cups spinach, washed and torn
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan.  Add the onion and sauté for 5-6 minutes, or until it begins to brown, stirring frequently.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic; sauté another 2-3 minutes.  Add the tomato, stir and cook until the tomato begins to break down, about 4-5 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the herbs and spices:

1. By hand: grind the spices until the sesame seeds are well cracked or crushed.  Using a coarse salt will help tremendously.

2. Using a spice grinder: blend until the sesame seeds are ground, about 10 seconds.

Add the spices, lentils, coconut milk and 2-3 cups water to the pot.  Stir and cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils are al dente, about 10 minutes.  When done, remove from heat and add the spinach. Stir, cover, and let sit for 2-3 minutes until the spinach wilts.  Garnish with a lime wedge and/or spinach.


317 calories ∣ 122 calories from fat ∣ 15 g fat ∣ 11 g saturated fat ∣ 35 g carbs ∣ 13 g fiber ∣ 15 g protein ∣ Good source of vitamin A, K ∣ Iron ∣ Folate

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