KWrXwoEZwVE4o-Pu9BobJ_OT9r8 New Year's Resolutions | Blinded by the Bite! ™

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time again – New Year’s Resolutions!

We’re 22 days into the new year and the diet commercials are on every major network, popping up in Facebook ads, magazines, you name it there is a diet out there for you (or so they say).

I don’t particularly care for New Year’s resolutions, as I feel as though you’re setting yourself up for failure, especially when it comes to weight loss and food.  I already have enough focus on what I eat day-in-day-out living with Celiac Disease.  Sometimes I feel as though I’ve placed so much attention on what I eat it feels as though I have an eating disorder.  I makes me a bit neurotic at times to be honest.  I don’t have the liberty of eating anything I want anymore.

Just before the end of the year you may have read my tweets and Facebook posts, I decided to attend a 10-day health immersion where I would be learning about eating a plant-based diet.  I was not a believer in eating a plant-based diet, far from it.  I love bacon, baked goods and good-ol home cooked Southern food.  But I took the leap of faith and went on a journey for ten days.

Imagine the setting of Naples, FL late October perfect 75º weather.  Beach front accommodations – It was the perfect (I live in Austin, TX and totally landlocked – I miss the ocean so much)!  I got to frolic in the sand and dip my big toe in the ocean, ride a bike with wind blowing over my face ever so gently.  Sound fantastic right?  It was and thank goodness, as the first few days of the immersion were really quite difficult (so glad I had my own room & wasn’t sharing).  I’d been traveling for work most of the summer and into early fall and arrived in Naples after having spent five glorious days in New York City (yes I ate my way through the city knowing I was headed to the immersion).

Florida Sunset

View from my hotel suite in Naples, FL

Not to bore you with the details but I basically learned how to eat a plant-based diet which includes more than just salads.  The biggest challenge for me that I am struggling with now back home is the “no oils” but I was armed with a set of tools that showed me how to carry out this into the dishes I would be cooking when I returned home.

Cut to the chase – this is my 1st recipe post immersion and I’m very happy with the results - Red Lentil Curried Soup:

  • 2 Cups Red Lentils (soaked/rinsed)
  • 1 Onion (Large)
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Stalks of Celery (I pulled off three stalks from 1 bunch)
  • 1/2 tsp Red Curry Paste
  • 3-4 Cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth (or you can make your own)
  • Elephant Garlic
  • White Pepper
  • 1 -2 Bay Leaves
  • White Wine

First roast the elephant garlic in the oven at 375º until garlic is tender.  I wrapped in foil as my garlic roster broke (sad) and added 1 tbsp of vegetable stock to keep the garlic moist in lieu of olive oil (1 tbsp of olive oil contains roughly between 119-140 calories depending upon the type purchased and 14 grams of fat (21% of your daily value).

Olive Oil Nutritional Details

Olive Oil Nutritional Details

While the garlic is roasting (which takes about an hour) I soaked the red lentils in cool water and set aside.  Next I prepared the rest of the ingredients but chopping the onions, carrots and celery (mirepoix).  I placed my Le Crueset Enameled Cast Iron French Oven over a medium heat and added in the mirepoix and stirred lightly.  Typically I’d add olive oil to the pan, but based on what I learned at the immersion I allowed the mirepoix to “sweat” and naturally caramelized adding in vegetable stock as needed.  I deglazed the pan by using a bit of white wine (your choice – I use Three Wishes White Whine from Whole Foods to cook with as it’s got a good flavor and is inexpensive $3.99 per bottle) and added in the bay leaves and pepper to season.

Next I drained off the waters from the lentils and added into the pan and allowed the lentils to soak up some of the developed flavors from the mirepoix. After about 5-10 minutes, I removed the bay leaves and using a ladle transferred the ingredients to my Vitamix.  If you don’t have a Vitamix, a hand-held immersion blender or regular blender will work. Then I added in the vegetable stock. You can add more stock depending on the consistency you prefer but I like my soups a little on the thicker side.  What’s next – Adding in the red curry paste.  I’m a spice wimp, meaning I don’t like things super spicy foods so I only add 1/2 tsp of red curry paste.  You can certainly add more but remember a bit goes a long way!  Also you could add cumin to the recipe which would give it another lovely layer of flavor (suggestion would be to add cumin to mirepoix).

Flip the switch on whatever blending source you decide to use.  Drop in the roasted garlic and season to taste with additional pepper/add additional stock as needed.  You’ll note I don’t add any salt to the recipe as the vegetable stock contains sodium, but feel free to add it to the recipe.

Let’s spoon – It’s the perfect soup for this chilly weather we’ve been having!  I hope you enjoy this healthy soup as much as I have (its lick the bowl good) and I’m looking forward to more adventures in the kitchen learning how to cook without dairy, sugar, oils and meats (I still may eat some pork from time to time and a good filet)!

Red Lentil Soup

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  1. Permalink Submitted by Anne | The Chef's Wife on Thu, 06/02/2014 - 11:33

    OH, wow…. that VIEW! Heavenly.

    We decided a number of years ago to try having “vegetarian” meals at least once a week, just to cut back some on meats … for health reasons. We haven’t been good at sticking to that long term … this was a good reminder that I need to look for more great recipe to try and get back to that. We love meat too but trying meatless meals is fun too if you are able to find some that are tasty and are most likely healthier. :)

    Hope it goes well for you … will be interesting to see if you feel better.

    • Permalink Submitted by Rachelle on Fri, 07/02/2014 - 06:06

      Anne: It was and I wish I was back there as we having 20-30 degree weather here in Austin. The ocean grounds me in such a way, the tide coming in and out, the feel of the sand in between my toes – It’s heaven for me. Shifting to a vegetarian lifestyle is hard, I am certainly struggling with it now I am home. My brother is a chef and we live together and lately he’s been in a bit of a meat comma as he purchased a new smoker. As you can imagine he’s smoking everything which includes ribs, pulled pork, brisket & more! Coming off the immersion and returning home to this has been challenging.

      I think for me anyway, the best way to make these changes is to take it one dish at a time. I had my brother smoke onions, tomatoes and mushrooms for me. These are things I really like and I’ve found ways to create main dishes out of them or even just eat them in combination with one another (I so love smoked/roasted onions and tomatoes together). It is also about not being afraid to try new things. Get in the kitchen and play which takes time and god knows we never leave ourselves enough time (I am horrible about this but slowly getting better).

      I am excited as to where this is going to lead me. I am ok with moving at a slow pace and the weight slowly coming off vs. diving into this in such a way that I don’t think is physically or emotionally healthy. I already focus on what I eat daily with living a gluten-free lifestyle, I am trying to find the happy balance with making these changes as well. I do like the way I feel however with the changed eating habits and that’s the most important part! Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog/commenting!

  2. Permalink Submitted by Jackie Patti on Tue, 04/02/2014 - 21:48

    I have never tried red lentils; do they taste significantly different than brown lentils?

    • Permalink Submitted by Rachelle on Fri, 07/02/2014 - 05:57

      No I don’t think so, I think it’s a more subtle difference really. I love using red lentils for soups, but I also use black and brown lentils. It’s really more about what I have in my house at the time and what I am intending to cook (e.g. Indian Curry dish or soup)

  3. Permalink Submitted by Betsy @ Desserts Required on Mon, 03/02/2014 - 12:48

    This soup looks delicious and one I look forward to trying!

    • Permalink Submitted by Rachelle on Tue, 04/02/2014 - 12:51

      Thanks Betsy!! Just took a peek at your website and OMG those desserts sure do look pretty scrumptious!!

  4. Permalink Submitted by Lisa C on Thu, 23/01/2014 - 04:56

    This sounds great, Rachelle, and congratulations for staying on track with what you learned! With minus 25 degree temps yesterday, this soup looks like a winner! I’m not a big wine drinker (if you have a suggestion for a decent organic wine, I’m open to suggestions) but I was thinking that I could try some coconut water or milk instead, and have a red lentil coconut curry soup!

    • Permalink Submitted by Rachelle on Thu, 23/01/2014 - 05:39

      Lisa – Thanks yes it’s been chilly here in Austin as well. Adding in coconut water or milk would be perfect actually if you want to stay away from the wine. Whole Foods and other retailers carry organic white wines – I have a few favorites:

      Sokol Blosser Vineyards Evolution, 15th Edition – $15.00
      Frog’s Leap Winery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc $18.00

      At this price point they’re a little expensive to cook with – sometimes I use an entire bottle. But if you have a Whole Foods in your area check with the wine department as they’re very knowledgeable and point you in the right direct, as well as other wine shops. Let me know if you whip up the recipe and add the coconut milk to it and how it turns out as I might just make that too . . .Enjoy & thanks for reading my blog!

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