Monday, February 25, 2013

Lentil Love: Fast and Easy "Baked" Lentils (gluten, corn, dairy, garlic, other things free)

Ugh.  My blogging schedule has been non-existent the last little bit.  I'd go into details, but it revolves around things breaking all at once around here, having to spend money to the point of me feeling ill to replace said things that broke and just life getting in the way of blogging.  Let's just leave it at that *laugh*.

So, I've been on a mission the last couple of months.  What is that mission?  Well, to put it bluntly I'm trying really hard to lose 15 lbs of ugly me.  I'm one of those people who if she gains five pounds she feels it.  I have a slight build, so any additional weight I start carrying makes me feel...well not great.  So after the long winter months and the additional poundage that seems to inevitably go along with it as well as not getting any younger makes it a bit harder every year to lose the weight I've gained.  I decided to make some changes to our diet around here, but nothing too dramatic, in which to help us lose weight through dietary changes rather than "dieting".  I know that doesn't seem to make much sense, but trust me it makes sense when you run it through my brain filter *laugh*.

Two of the changes I made to our diet were pretty simple.  One:  I have become determined to put out salad and/or greens with dinner every night.  When it comes to the starch arena, I decided to stop going with the old standby of mashed potatoes or white rice and see what else I could come up with.  And looking through the alternatives to the normal starches, inevitably I remembered beans and how healthy they are for you and started trying to think of different ways to use them that were quick and easy.

When focusing on using beans I decided to focus recipes based on canned beans and/or lentils since they cook quickly.  So, be prepared for different ways to use our friends the legumes on the blog here as I come up with things.

The first thing I did to start experimenting with lentils was just to cook an entire pound of them.  Just sort your lentils (stones do slip through the sorting machines on occasion), rinse them and then place them in a pan and cover with about 3 inches of water.  Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are done.  Easy peazy.  Then just refrigerate your lentils for up to 5 days or use them in some of these recipes.

First up, my quick and tasty version of Boston Baked Beans made with lentils.  I tried to avoid using molasses in this recipe as I know when someone is severely corn allergic they tend to avoid molasses just out of caution.  So, I went with a combination of blue agave (surprisingly has a molasses-like taste to it) and maple syrup.  For the sugar I used palm sugar, but you could also just add a bit more maple syrup and cook the lentils a bit more to cook the liquid out of them (doesn't take much).  Looking for a completely vegetarian option to avoid using bacon?  Well, just add a drop or two of liquid smoke and a pinch of salt.  It won't be EXACTLY the same, but it'll get the job done.

Quick and Easy "Baked" Lentils (gluten, corn, dairy, other things free)
  • 2 cups cooked lentils, drained
  • 1 TBS blue agave
  • 1 TBS maple syrup (can use 2 TBS and omit the agave if you wish)
  • 1 tsp Amore tomato paste (it's garlic free) or other tomato paste
  • 1 TBS (about, just eyeball it) palm sugar (can substitute brown sugar if you wish)
  • pinch Cheyenne pepper
  • 2 TBS chicken or vegetable stock (or you could just use water, but it won't add any flavor)
  • 2 pieces nitrate free bacon cut into small pieces (you can also use a drop or two of liquid smoke and a pinch of salt for a vegetarian option)
  • Salt and Pepper
Place all items in a medium saucepan and heat over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until everything is well incorporated and the lentils are heated through, about 5 minutes (turn down heat if it starts hissing or you are afraid the lentils might burn). 

Salt and pepper to taste if you wish and then place lentils in a nice looking serving dish, preferably a baking dish so you can do a huge fake out on people when they think they're actually eating baked lentils.  Consume and enjoy!

Serves 4 as a side dish.

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