I am not a very skilled cook or culinary connoisseur, but I do appreciate my healthy California cuisine all day, every day. My father has raised me to possess a gourmet palette, but until recently, this palette was only cultivated at the dinner table. However, three new factors over the past couple of years have shoved me into the kitchen more often, and since then, my enthusiasm for cooking has steadily increased.
The first factor was when I was told that I was not eating enough fiber or iron a couple summers ago. I was also told to lighten off dairy, rice, and bananas, which at that point were being consumed excessively on a daily basis. Overnight, I had to change my diet and become aware of what I was eating. And even though I thought I was a pretty healthy eater before, I realized that the pretzels and white flour tortillas weren't doing justice for the nutrients I could have been getting with healthier alternatives. At this point, I also wasn't eating any red meat, but I had to change that when I realized I was anemic. Since then, however, I've tried to reduce my meat consumption, although I don't think I'll become a vegetarian anytime soon.
The second factor was my new year's resolution from 2013, which was to learn how to cook something beyond pasta, box cakes, and bread machine bread. I figured that I should know how to cook enough dishes to live on by the time I get to college, and while I never expected to enjoy the process (or keep my resolution), I enjoyed baking my own bread, undercooking stir-fry after stir-fry, and learning about spices beyond oregano, pepper, and cinnamon.
The third factor was somewhat simultaneous with the second: the launching of Kinsey Cooks! My friend Kinsey started a cooking blog that inspired me to try some of her recipes. Thanks to her, I acquainted myself with lentils, Cookie Monday, and stone fruit clafoutis. We also started to talk about food more, which inspired me to learn more.
Out of everything I ever cook (besides cereal and sandwiches, which hardly counts as "cooking"), 95% of my dishes are stir-frys. They are my go-to dish because they are delicious, nutritious, and pretty quick. I used to just saute veggies and add rice, but lately I've been making variations of my new favorite: lentils and couscous. The vegetarian concoction I made today was especially successful, so I thought I'd share it!
Hearty Lentil & Couscous Stir-Fry
Preparation Time: If you are a slow chef like me, about 45 minutes)
3 cups water
1 cup boiling water
0.5 cup red split lentils
0.5 cup green lentils
1 cup whole wheat couscous
2 large carrots
8 mini bell peppers (or 1.5 normal sized bell peppers)
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
Juice from one lemon, lime, or clementine
The following ingredient quantities are approximations. Add as desired.
~2 teaspoons white wine
~1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
~3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch ground Italian oregano
~3 teaspoons cumin
1 dash ground turmeric
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce (Trader Joe's)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Heat up a cast-iron pan with some olive oil and low heat. Then add red and green lentils and 3 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered while stirring occasionally until lentils are cooked and most of the water has evaporated (about 20-25 minutes). Add cumin, turmeric, some olive oil, and spread evenly.
2. Meanwhile, cut carrots, squash, and bell peppers. Saute in a separate frying pan under medium-high heat with white wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, oregano, and sweet chili sauce. You may want to add the veggies gradually so they will all be cooked at the same time (carrots, then squash, then peppers), adding spices when you see fit.
3. When the lentils and vegetables are almost done, in a separate bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over couscous. Add citrus juice, then cover until all the water is absorbed.
4. Combine couscous with lentils, and then add veggies (if your pan is big enough). Stir together well, serve hot, and enjoy!
|Finished sauteed veggies.|
|Finished lentils and couscous.|
On another food-related note, if anyone would like to buy any Girl Scout Cookies from me, identify yourself by commenting below or otherwise contacting me by Friday, February 21, 2014. They are $5 a box, and you can find more information about all eight varieties here.
I also just created a Facebook page for my blog! You can find it here.
Stay tuned for the fourth February post on Thursday, where I'll be sharing a new seasonal piece I made recently.
Happy crafting, eating, and living,