Saturday, February 15, 2020

Heavenly, Hearty, Healthy Vegan Red Lentil Dal

I’m always on the lookout for easy lentil recipes, ones that are delicious, vegan, and retain flavor, even when leftovers are frozen, thawed, and heated for additional meals later on.

Post updated 11/24/2022

Lentils are an important staple in South Asian cuisines, especially in India. Masoor dal is a tiny red/orange lentil that doesn’t require pre-soaking, cooks  quickly. I used that variety for my recipe. 

Dal (also spelled dhal, daal, dahl) is a term to describe a split pulse(legume, pea, or bean dish) on the Indian subcontinent. Dal stars in both stew or soup recipes. 

I studied many red lentil dal recipes, but didn't find one that fit me to a T, so I created my own. 

This dish is very adaptable. You may add additional veggies including red pepper, zucchini, or ones you have on hand. When including optional ingredients, add a few extra minutes of cook time.

Make the soup version by adding extra vegetable broth or coconut milk to the liquid amounts specified in the ingredient list below.

Preparation details and food facts are shared along the way, because I'd like you to see how easy and nutritious it is to serve this yummy lentil dish for a meatless Monday main course, mid-week lunch or dinner, or as company faire. 

Want to know what I mean?

Heavenly, Hearty, Healthy Vegan Red Lentil Dal is...

Creamy-cooking the lentils in coconut milk and vegetable broth makes them sweet without sugar. These ingredients add  richness, good taste, and important nutrients.

Colorful-red lentils look orange and turn golden yellow as they cook. Vegetables and seasoning including carrots, celery, onion, and cilantro or parsley adds other hues, and make this meal antioxidant rich and attractive.

Comforting-there's something magical about lentils that makes them seem so comforting and homey. 

Nutrient-rich-every ingredient in this recipe has health benefits, and the links in this post provide detailed health information about several. 

Cholesterol free- this is a whole food plant-based recipe, and  each ingredient used has no cholesterol.

Filling-lentils are an excellent source of vegetable protein, calcium, folic acid, and potassium, as well as being cost effective. Lentils are naturally fat free and fit in with a vegetarian, vegan, and conventional eating plans.

Eating a serving of lentil dal with brown rice or other whole grain is a healthy way to satisfy even the most robust appetites.

Gluten Free-more and more people have developed an intolerance or allergy to gluten. This recipe doesn't cause that "too stuffed feeling" or other adverse reaction.

Heavenly-from the first spoon or fork-full to the last, notice how the spices and herbs meld together and energize the delicious flavors of this dish. 

Fiber packed-one cup of cooked lentils has high fiber/approximately 15.6 grams per serving. Fiber is associated with lower blood cholesterol levels and protection against cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes.

Easy to prepare-dried lentils and canned coconut milk are readily available in most markets or online. Stock ingredients in your home pantry, and make prep time a snap. 

Whole food-the human body runs most efficiently on food that is in its natural form, or very close to it. Research shows that eating meals that consist of plant-based whole foods is a sound way to get the fuel (food) you need to be high functioning and feel vitally alive. 

Recipe for Heavenly Hearty Healthy Vegan Red Lentil Dal


2 ½ cups dried red lentils 
1-2 inch knob of fresh ginger grated
1 14 oz. can unsweetened light coconut milk
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1-2 red chili peppers chopped, or 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (if you prefer, use regular paprika)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped coriander
3-4 carrots
3-4 stalks celery (include leaves) chopped
1 large onion chopped
4-6 garlic cloves grated
6 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth (add 2 or 3 more cups of liquid when making the soup version)
juice from one fresh squeezed lemon or lime
sprig of fresh cilantro, parsley, or even celery leaves for garnish

Optional Ingredients: ½ cup mushrooms, 1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes, and Yukon gold or other diced potatoes.

Note: I purchase organic when it's available, because it's important that food comes from a source that hasn't been genetically modified. My research and experience shows organic food has higher nutrient value and tastes better too. A local health food store and farmers’ market are good places to find organic products.

What to do:

1. Place dry lentils in a colander and rinse in cool water. Pick out any debris, and rinse again. Set aside.

2. Peel and chop onion and grate garlic and ginger. Then clean and chop celery and carrots (no need to peel carrots). Skin is where a lot of the nutrients are). Set aside.

3. Heat two drops of water or 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a large pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika, chili or chili powder. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Be mindful about personal spice preferences. Feel free to make adjustments and cater the spice level to satisfy the taste buds of your mates and you.

4. Add lentils and chopped veggies. Add broth, coconut milk, and bay leaves and cook on low-medium heat, partially covered, until tender. That process will take 20-30 minutes. 

Note: Cook time varies, and is affected by how long the dried lentils have been sitting on the shelf, your elevation, how much liquid you add, how small you chop your veggies, and whether you’re using tomatoes. The acid in tomatoes slows down the cooking process. Increase cook time by at least 15 minutes, when using tomatoes. Optional veggies need to be added, when you add other veggies.

5. Stir mixture two or three times during the cook time to prevent sticking or boiling over.  

6. Test for flavor by sampling a spoonful of dal. Dal is ready when lentils and veggies are soft and creamy. To finish this dish, turn off flame, pour on lemon or lime juice, dish out, and garnish with chopped greens. Serve hot.

Serving suggestion: Combine with one of the following: brown basmati or other brown rice, roasted veggies, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or a fresh type of Indian bread that's vegan. This recipe serves 4 hungry people. Extra portions freeze well, and keep for up to 3-4 months.  

Red Lentil Dal with roasted red pepper, celery, red cabbage, red onion, yellow squash

Please comment below and/or reshare with a link back to this post. 

Your interest and attention means the world to me.

I hope my post has inspired you to add this whole-food plant based recipe to your cooking repertoire. Remember it's Heavenly, Hearty, and Healthy!

Wishing you a wonderful Repast and...

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Saturday, February 1, 2020

Creative Ideas to Help Us Open Our Hearts to Self-love

Colors, Kindness, Self-care

For those of us who strive to excel in our careers and/or ace relationships, we may drive ourselves too hard, and feel depleted. Then, If we don't reach our goals, we focus on how bad we messed up, and get down on ourselves. 

Updated 7/27/2023

Putting undue pressure on ourselves makes us feel frustrated, cranky, and sets off negative self-talk that can get loud and insulting. This doesn't have to happen. 

Compassion, Care, Colors for Self-love

Holding on to unrealistic expectations of ourselves is destructive to our self-esteem.
If you can relate, know that the self-care tips I share below have helped me in innumerable ways. 

Try them on for size, and let me know in the comments section under this post how it went.

Each helps reverse a self-defeating attitude, lightens things up, and opens our hearts to self-love.

But first, ask yourself the following:

Do I think self-love is a selfish characteristic? 

Read the wise words of Andrea Brandt PhD, MFT, who was a therapist in private practice in CA. Her insights about self-love are right on. The quote below is shared with her permission.

“Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. 
Self-love means not settling for less than you deserve.”

She continues, "Self-love means giving 

yourself what your body, brain, and soul 

needs for the marathon that is life. 

It isn’t hedonism and it isn’t chasing a 

physical or emotional high. The practice of 

self-love is the practice of nourishing 



Since February is often thought of as the LOVE month, this post features tips and reminders to help us navigate and celebrate our love relationship with ourselves.

Now on to

Creative Ideas to Help Us Open Our Hearts to Self-Love!

Harness Color Energy. πŸ’–

When we are mindful of the colors we choose to look at, wear, or surround ourselves with, we can absorb their color energy for our good. 

Colors bypass thinking and interact with us at the cellular level.  Envisioning certain colors is an easy way to convert negative thoughts to positive ones, balance or inspire passion, and influence us to act kinder and more compassionately with ourselves. 

Most of us are aware that Valentine colors are usually RED, PINK, and WHITE. There are several reasons this is so.

RED is the color of heart health, passion, excitement, enthusiasm, love, courage, fire, and Valentine's Day. 

Red speeds up metabolism and energizes us. Women may enjoy accessorizing with bright red shoes and purse, and men can don a red cap or tie to get pep and pizazz with red.

Here's what I mean. Debbie Ross from Debbie Styles Life shows us Subtle Ways to Incorporate Valentine Colors into Wardrobes.

PINK is a nurturing, supportive color, one that instinctively reminds us of warm feelings, unconditional love, and gentleness. 

Pink is red and white combined. This mix provides a helpful balance of male and female energies. Pink can reduce stress and exudes a gentle healing energy. 

We can use this sweet color to nurture ourselves, calm us, and decrease loneliness. More about the color pink in Ways to Use Colors to Improve Work Life Balance.

Perhaps WHITE resonates with us. It is an empowering color, one we can use to visualize white light around us. 

Its energy is cleansing, healing, protecting, and raises consciousness by helping support a spiritual connection.

Envision white for a sense of security, or buy white roses to represent self-love that is pure and steadfast.

When we wear white or lounge on white pillows or a blanket, think devotion.

We can use a white crystal called selenite in our homes or hold a selenite wand in front of our bodies. White has many rejuvenating and mystical properties.

Be Good to Ourselves. πŸ’–

Wholesome self-care includes eating meals that consist of nourishing whole food, and getting regular exercise. 

It includes pursuing interests and work that makes us feel enthusiastic about life, getting adequate rest and sleep, and making time for people and things we love. 

Many of us find that contributing to a greater good, and creating a place of stillness inside ourselves (with prayer, meditation, yoga, or other healing practices) are lifestyle choices that help nurture us.

Each self-care practice prepares us to be more flexible and resilient, especially in adverse conditions and a sometimes harsh world. 

Look in the mirror each day and affirm  I love my mind, body, and spirit exactly as it is.

Make a list of your strong points/assets and shortcomings/ vulnerabilities. Accept them all just for today.

Note personality traits with lovingkindness. These characteristics have gotten you this far and deserve a thank you.

Ponder this “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower, don't try to be a magnolia flower. If you crave acceptance and recognition and try to change yourself to fit what other people want you to be, you will suffer all your life. True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself.” Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power

If your self-confidence level is low, be proactive and do things to help change your beliefs about self-worth. 

Be willing to increase skills by enrolling in courses, apprenticing, and trying out new things. 

It's never too late to increase knowledge about topics you know little about, and it's an excellent way to find new passions. 

Make it a priority to cherish yourself. Admit and affirm everyone has qualities that make them unique and special. 

Remember we are all part of the human race, 

A word of caution. Maintain personal values, 
ethics, and morals. Refrain from people 
pleasing to get ahead or be "liked." We need 
to get validation by being honest, honoring 
our truths, and loving ourselves. Being true 
to ourselves is the best policy for self-love 
and life satisfaction. 

When we need motivation to be more self-compassionate, say affirmations, get support from people who recognize our goodness. and hang out with people who bring out the best in us. 

If it seems as though we don't like who we are, imagine we are a beloved child, grandchild, or dear friend. How would we treat them? Then just treat ourselves that way. 

Take a moment to applaud and appreciate even the smallest forward motion. 

Use additional moments scattered 
throughout the day to observe whether you 
are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. These are 
times to HALT.

Self-care is Key

Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Learn from slips-ups and use them as stepping stones for personal growth. 

Journal to open your heart more fully to self-love. Write, draw, or color in a journal to discover simple ways to take tender loving care of yourself. πŸ’“

Thank you for the visit. Wishing friends, family, and blog readers a wonderful February. Before you go, please comment below. 

If you like what you see, please re-share on social media and provide a link back to this post.

Here are some possible things to comment about:

What ideas do you like or use to improve self-care?

Where do you still need work?

Do you know low self-esteem is a learned habit and can be unlearned? What do you think about that?

What steps have you taken to help improve your opinion of yourself?

No links in comments please, as they won't be published that way.
Creative Ideas to Help Us Open Our Hearts to Self-love
This post was written for information and entertainment purposes only. If you need or want medical or psychological advice, consult with a professional provider.

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