Is it February yet? Have we had enough of this health food stuff? Can we talk about chocolate yet? No? Too soon?
All right, then more healthy food it is. Are you cooking and eating healthier? Are you feeling any better?
I am. I set some goals for myself and I’ve been doing quite well with them. And I feel better. I feel less driven by my sweet tooth. I have more energy to exercise. I’m sleeping better at night. Even if the number on the scale barely budges, we should take time to recognize the way we feel living inside our bodies.
I have three more recipes for lighter dinners. I am so glad to have these on hand when we get those long stretches of cloudy days, or get snowed in for a couple of days, and all I want to do is eat crescent rolls and potatoes.
First up, a creamy coconut lentil curry. That doesn’t sound so light, what with the word “creamy,” but it’s up to you about whether to add the coconut milk at the end or not. It’s also meatless, but lentils pack a nice punch of protein and complex carbohydrates and lots of fiber. The curry flavors keep it from tasting bland. (I’m not really a fan of lentils in general, but I bought a bag of them and need to use them up.)
Next, fennel and grapefruit red snapper. Fish are a great source of lean protein, and red snapper are one of the varieties that have the good omega 3 fatty acids that are considered heart healthy. This recipe pairs the fish with roasted fennel, which I love for its unusual licorice taste, and the pink grapefruit has that sweet-tart tang to it. This will help wake up your winter taste buds.
And finally, because I’m trying to avoid having potatoes every day, a recipe for loaded cauliflower soup. It’s just like loaded baked potato soup — one of my absolute favorites — but it substitutes two whole heads of cauliflower for the potatoes. It won’t have the carbs, but it still has sour cream, bacon and cheddar cheese. You’ve got to live a little.
Creamy coconut lentil curry
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 head of garlic, chopped (10 to 12 cloves)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup dried brown lentils
1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne powder
1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped cilantro
Heat the coconut oil in a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast until they start to brown, about 45 seconds. Add the garlic to the pot and let it brown, about 2 minutes.
Add the can of crushed tomatoes, ginger, turmeric, and sea salt to the pot and cook, stirring the pot a few times, for 5 minutes. Add the lentils and, if using, the cayenne powder, and 3 cups of water to the pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft. Stir the pot a few times to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom. If the curry starts to look dry, add an extra ½ to 1 cup of water.
Once the lentils are soft, add the coconut milk and cherry tomatoes and bring the pot back to a simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the cilantro.
Fennel and grapefruit-rubbed snapper
3 fennel bulbs, cut into ¾-inch wedges
¼ cup plus 1½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons chopped thyme
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 12-ounce red snapper fillets
2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
½ teaspoon finely grated grapefruit zest
1 pink grapefruit, peeled and supremed
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the fennel, ¼ cup of oil, the thyme and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until just tender.
Gently curl 1 snapper fillet over the edge of a ceramic baking dish, skin side up. Make five or six slashes in the fillet. Repeat with the remaining fillet.
In a bowl, whisk the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil, the fennel seeds and zest and rub all over the fillets and in the slashes; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the snapper skin side up on the fennel. Roast for about 8 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Serve the fish and fennel with the grapefruit sections.
Loaded cauliflower soup
2 medium heads cauliflower
4 to 6 cups chicken broth*
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 slices cooked and crumbled bacon, for garnish
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish
Sliced green onions, for garnish
Cut the cauliflower heads into florets, removing the tough inner core. Place the cauliflower florets and 3 cups of the broth in a large pot with matching lid over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then place the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to low to cook for 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender.
Remove the cauliflower from heat and add to a high powered blender and blend for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth.
Add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, sour cream, and lemon juice, then blend again on high for an additional 30 seconds until fully combined. Pour in additional broth to your desired consistency.
Pour the soup into bowls and top each with bacon, cheese, and green onions. Enjoy!
Notes: With 4 cups broth, this soup has a thicker, more mash-like texture. If you like a thinner soup, add 1 to 2 cups additional broth to your liking.