Balanced Living

Get Back into the Kitchen + Simple Dal Recipe

Posted by Arja on January 12 in Holistic Health, Nutrition, Main Dishes, Meatless, Soups and Stews | Download a PDF of this Recipe

Although I don’t place much emphasis on making New Year’s resolutions these days, I do love harnessing the powerful energy that comes at certain times of the year (back to school, spring, New Year, and birthdays) to re-focus myself.  For those who do make resolutions, health and wellness goals are often at the top of the list, which makes sense.  It’s a lot easier to achieve your other goals or intentions if you’re feeling good.  I’m not opposed to people having a goal, or making a resolution.  It just seems like too many are either motivated by fear or other negative emotions, which leads them to race towards their goals at a pace they cannot sustain.  If you’ve made goals this year, why not keep them simple, and take small steps towards achieving them?

Most health and wellness goals, including fat loss, eating more vegetables, sleeping better, or tackling other health concerns, benefit from you spending more time in the kitchen cooking your own food.  Life is busy, and more people are relying on take out food, prepared food counters, and frozen meals to eat lunch and get dinner on the table.  While there are some fabulous food delivery services out there that can make life easier on busy nights, cooking at home means you often use better quality ingredients, and know what is going into your food, increasing the nutritional value.  

So, knowing that cooking at home will likely lead to healthier meals, how do you find the time to do it?  You can’t add more hours to the day, but you can:

Plan ahead – Meal planning for the week will help you stay on track, plan simpler meals for busy days, and help you grocery shop more efficiently.

Cook when you have time – Cook up some extra protein or grains on the weekend, or even during the week to help you get dinner on the table for the next few days.  If you’re making a soup, stew, or something in the slow cooker make extra so you have leftovers for other meals or to stash in the freezer.  

Harness the power of the internet or all those recipe books on your shelf – Look for recipe inspiration that makes you want to get into the kitchen!  Not everyone is a born chef and the kitchen can be a daunting place.  Having a recipe gives you a plan to follow and helps you navigate your way through the kitchen more efficiently.

Also, not every meal needs to be fit for a queen.  Seriously, cut yourself some slack!  There’s nothing wrong with breakfast for dinner (who doesn’t love an omelet??), or with simply steamed veggies with some protein.  

Looking for some inspiration?  Here are a few simple meals from my archives:

Ginger Broccoli Beef 

Creamy Broccoli & Swiss Chard Soup 

A Quick Quinoa Salad

Smokey Chipotle Chicken & Sweet Potato Chili

Grilled Salmon with Zucchini ‘Slaw

The other day a friend of mine asked if I had a recipe for dal (an Indian dish made with red lentils and simple ingredients), and it occurred to me that I’ve never shared it online before!  This meal is simple to prepare, uses only a few ingredients, freezes well, and is super comforting.  I always make mine with some leafy green like Swiss chard or spinach.  

Simple Dal  
Makes 5-6 servings

1 cup red lentils, soaked for 1 hr or more (soaking is optional – shortens cooking time)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp grated ginger 
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
4 cups water
1/2 tsp Garam masala
1 bunch leafy greens (spinach or Swiss Chard work best), chopped
Cooked rice (for serving)

Step 1 - Soak lentils for an hour or more to shorten cooking time.  (optional)

Step 2 - Sauté onion in coconut oil until soft and translucent.  Add garlic and minced ginger and cook for a few mins more.  Toss 1tsp curry powder in and cook for a minute then add drained lentils and 4 cups water.  

Step 3 - Cook until lentils are soft and totally broken down adding more water as necessary to keep it a thick soup consistency.  

Step 4 - Add leafy greens and garam masala right at the end and cook until soft (few mins).

Serve with rice and enjoy!

arja pennanen lytle c.n.p. n.n.c.p certified nutritional practitioner

Arja is a Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for balanced living. She loves to help people sleep better, think better, feel sexier, and just generally feel better by putting the focus on eating foods that make you feel good. Arja uses whole foods, lifestyle adjustments, herbs, and some supplements to help people feel their best and achieve their health and wellness goals.