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I found pumpkin!! Yes, after weeks of searching, I finally got my hands on some pumpkin. Yahoo! As I wrote last week in my chocolate chip sweet potato bread recipe, I hadn’t been able to find any this entire season. Now that I finally have some pumpkin, it’s time to get busy! We rarely eat sweets, so after last week’s recipe I thought it was time for a savory dish. Papi Chulo is always asking for lentils and Greek yogurt is a staple at our place, so I decided to combine pumpkin, lentils, and Greek yogurt to make a thick curry that’s perfect over rice.
While it’s not the most beautiful dish I’ve ever created, it is certainly among the most delicious! It’s both sweet and spicy, it keeps well (which makes it a good choice for meal prep!), and has plenty of protein and fiber. Although not included in the recipe, chunks of white potato or sweet potato go well in this curry, too.
We are not vegetarian, but we do eat lots of plant-based meals (with some dairy on top). Pulses, whole grains, and plain old “vegetables” form the bulk of most meals around here! Something else that’s generally important to us is keeping things as close to the source as possible – in other words, eating whole foods. We do keep some processed items around because we occasionally need the quick calories, but they’re not healthy go-to choices. For meal or snack, sticking with whole foods will generally leave you feeling more full and satisfied. Here’s a quick example of what I mean – both plates contain 30 calories worth of food:
Which snack is going to leave you more full?
We all know we should be eating whole foods, plenty of vegetables, etc., but it takes more time to wash and slice the cucumber than it does to open a bag of granola. I don’t know many people who habitually feel like they have too much time on their hands, do you? Quite the opposite!
Anyway, I do have a reason for bringing all of this up – there’s a simple way to save both time and money while eating healthy and it’s called meal prep. You spend a couple hours once or twice a week cooking up a storm, then you have healthy meals ready to go when you need them. How much easier is it to choose the cucumber, metaphorically speaking, when it’s sliced and ready to eat? Meal prep not only helps make healthy choices easy, but it also reduces food waste because you never got around to eating those leftovers, cuts down on the time you spend cooking and cleaning up each day, and helps you save money in a couple different ways. I’m still not 100% decided, but I’m considering writing my first (non-coloring) e-book on “meal prep 101” to show just how simple it is to get started with make ahead meals. What do y’all think? Does that sound like a useful topic?
Yikes! That was kind of a lot! I guess it’s time to get to the pumpkin lentil curry recipe. I’m a little bit of a wimp so this curry isn’t too super spicy, so make sure to do a taste test and add more pepper if you like things hot!
- teaspoon olive oil
- onion (white, yellow, or red), chopped fine
- 6 oz of carrots, by weight, chopped (about a cup and a half)
- 1 cup dry lentils (make sure to check them over for stones!)
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger or 1½ teaspoons dried powdered ginger
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1½ teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ taspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or freshly cooked)
- 14 ounces petite diced tomatoes (diced or crushed will work, too)
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage 2%)
- Cilantro, as garnish
- Before you begin cooking, measure out all the spices and have them ready to go on a plate. They don't need to stay separate from one another - feel free to make one pile with them!
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the carrots and onions. Stir to coat with oil, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions turn translucent and carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium-low if the onions begin to crisp instead of wilt.
- Add the lentils and stir.
- Add all the spices and stir to combine. Cook until the spices are fragrant, only about 30 seconds.
- Add the pumpkin puree, stir, and cook for another minute or so until you can smell the pumpkin.
- Add the tomatoes, garlic, and water and stir thoroughly.
- Partially cover and bring heat to medium high until the mixture begins to simmer, then mostly cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are thoroughly cooked. Stir occasionally and keep an eye on the amount of liquid in the pot - add more water if it's needed, but try to have most of the liquid cooked away by the 30 minute mark.
- Remove the pumpkin lentil curry from the heat and allow it to sit, uncovered, to cool slightly. Stirring helps the cooling process. =)
- Once the curry has cooled slightly, add the Greek yogurt. At least 5 minutes of cooling is very important because, if the curry is too hot, the yogurt will curdle. To blend in the yogurt, I added it to the curry then mixed it with my immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, either transfer a portion of the curry to a "regular" blender, add the yogurt, and pulse to combine, or whisk vigorously until the yogurt is fully combined. Whichever method you pick, only blend until the yogurt is fully incorporated - don't try to turn the curry into a pumpkin lentil smoothie!
- Garnish with cilantro (additional yogurt and cheese are both tasty choices, too!) and serve over rice.
Don’t let the number of steps intimidate you – this pumpkin lentil curry is easy to make and takes less than an hour from start to finish. Most of the steps in the recipe are “add and stir,” so they’re not difficult! We ate this curry over rice, but it can be made into a soup quite easily. To make a thick curried pumpkin lentil soup, just add about a cup more water and completely cover while it’s simmering. Without the rice, this curry has about 250 calories per serving and includes 2 grams of fat, 18 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber. The exact nutritional value depends on your ingredients, so please do the math with your own ingredients if it’s important to you!
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