Mujadara soup

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Well, we closed out 2017 with a bang. And by "bang," I mean, trip to the emergency room. Someone had horrible stomach pains that looked like appendicitis or a hernia because someone has been holding it rather than going in the potty. I was like, "Ethan, come on. You're an adult. just poop in the damned potty." So, I was more than glad to welcome 2018 this morning. (Did we think for one second I was making it to midnight last night? That's hilarious.)  

In honor of a more auspicious start to this year, I'm posting a lentil soup recipe that combines two of my favorite mujadara recipes from Deborah Madison and Madhur Jaffrey. (I've also seen it spelled moudjendra or muhjadarrah.) My dad and I ate this dish a lot when I was a teen. I went through a vegetarian phase and he went through an only-eating-lentils-because-heart-disease phase.

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There is something so warm and comforting to me about this Middle Eastern dish. While it's usually eaten as a side, it's hearty enough to eat as a main course or, as I've done here, to turn into a one-pot soup that makes a great lunch with a piece of crusty bread or toasted pita.

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And, of course, eating lentils (or any round bean, really) is supposed to be good luck for the new year and eating anything green (the color of money) ushers in a prosperous new year.

You know what else this soup has? Lots and lots of fiber. So if your New Year's resolution has anything to do with gut health, potty training, weight loss, overall health, or home cooking, here's a soup for you. If you didn't make any resolutions and this is just another day, then make it "just another day" featuring delicious soup. If this straightforward, but somewhat time consuming dish isn't your bag, check out last year's lentil recipe.

 

Mujadara soup

2-3 large onions (4-5 small ones), sliced into 1/4 inch rounds or half-moons
1 Tbsp salted butter, olive oil, or ghee
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 large cloves garlic
1 1/4 cup green lentils
3/4 cup long grain brown rice (basmati is great)
10 cups chicken or veggie stock (homemade if possible)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch lacinto kale (also called dinosaur or Tuscan kale)

Heat the butter and oil over a medium flame. Slice your onions and chop your garlic. Set garlic aside. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the onions and salt. Saute the onions until they are a rich brown color, about 20-30 minutes.

While your onions are caramelizing, measure and rinse your lentils and rice and set aside. Check the onions every few minutes and adjust the temperature as needed to avoid burning them.

Once the onions are browned, add the garlic and saute for one minute, or until fragrant.

Add the lentils and the stock and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back down to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Add the rice, cover, and continue simmering on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.

While the soup simmers, wash and chop your kale.

After 30 minutes, check the rice for doneness. I, personally, like a bit of bite left in the rice, but if you like it done more, cook for another 5-10 minutes, or to your liking. (Bear in mind that the rice will cook more upon reheating the soup as well.)

Add the kale and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir. Taste for seasoning and thickness and add more salt or stock as needed.

Yield: 64 oz or about 8 cups of soup

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Everything egg cups

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This morning, M asked for a lollipop and ice cream for breakfast, so we're obviously still recovering from the Halloween sugarpalooza.  

As a side note, we decided to do a Whole 15 instead of a Whole 30 this time. We hit the halfway mark and I thought back to our previous Whole 30's: By the end of each one, I was SO SO ready to have bread and beans and dairy and wine again that the eating pendulum swung wildly back in the other direction. At this mid-point, I feel great and in control and ready to incorporate things back into my life while also eating them in moderation rather than going on a candy binge. This feels like a better place to be when entering the holiday season.

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Anyway, I made these egg cups twice during our Whole 15 and they are easy and delicious and filling and really satisfying. The salty, garlicky kick is why I sometimes crave everything bagels, but you can get that without eating a bread bomb for breakfast. 

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I also must confess: I'm not normally a fan of the egg cup. They're so ubiquitous when looking for healthy, make-ahead breakfasts, but they never do it for me. In these cups, the potato is filling, but they're also meant to function like the bread of a sandwich, so you can fill them with whatever constitutes a good breakfast for you. My personal favorite is turkey bacon, tomato, and avocado, but we've also done spinach and sausage, and smoked salmon with fixings like onion, tomato, and capers.

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Since the next two months will be treat filled, I'm sure we'll be making these cups many times.

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Just one note: I personally like the Everything Spice recipe from TheKitchn. You can also buy premade mixes from Trader Joe's and King Arthur. If you are sensitive to salt, I would recommend making your own mix and decreasing the salt to 1 tsp. You can always add more if it's not enough, but you can't subtract. I also omit all seasoning on the muffins so that the topping shines.  

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Everything egg cups

6 eggs
1 medium russet potato (about 6-8 oz)
1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
1 Tbsp dried garlic flakes
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp coarse salt
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Spray or brush olive oil in an extra-large muffin tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk 6 eggs until the yolks and whites are well mixed. Grate the potato directly into the egg mixture and whisk again. Distribute evenly into your prepared muffin tins.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the muffins feel dense and there is absolutely no give when you gently push on the tops.

While the muffins are cooking, put together your everything spice mix. You’ll have extra, so make the mix in a container or jar and then pour about half of it onto a plate.

Let the muffins cool slightly and turn them out onto your work surface. Lightly spray or brush the tops and bottoms with olive oil and dip into the spice mixture on the top and bottom of the muffins. Place back on your work surface and let cool some more. Cut them in half and fill with whatever you like.

Yield: 6 extra-large muffins

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Raising a feminist

Well, Donald Trump is president. I don't really know what to say that hasn't already been said by those much smarter and better informed than me. Marching in NYC last weekend was a good way to exorcise some anger, but as MANY have pointed out, marching once with some friends and funny signs does not a revolution make. So, I've signed up for a bunch of email blasts about next steps, I've called my senators, made donations, and am working on a few other ideas.

I've also thought a lot in recent days about how to raise a feminist boy. M is still very young, but he is aware of so much. I don't think it can hurt to teach him certain fundamentals and adjust some things to help him become part of the solution, not part the problem. These are two things I'm going to do right now:

1) Stop apologizing to M for everything. This is my knee-jerk parent reaction: M falls down and while comforting him I say, "I'm sorry you fell." Or when I have to enforce a rule and it upsets my mercurial toddler I say, "I'm sorry, but I can't let you ________ (play with that outlet/stand in that windowsill/run with that sharp object)." I do feel sorry when he falls down, but I can convey that sentiment without actually apologizing. And I don't feel sorry when I have to set a boundary. Of course I don't like upsetting him, but he's a toddler: An errant gust of wind could upset him if he's teething, hungry, tired, in a grown spurt, etc. And it's my job to keep him safe, which means disappointing him when he thinks he can fly (literally; not in the R. Kelly sense), but I won't let him.

I hate how much I apologize for myself, and not only to M. To the rest of the world I say, Sorry I took up so much space. Sorry I needed something totally reasonable. Sorry I'm asking you to do your job. Sorry I'm asking to be compensated fairly for work I do. I don't want M to grow up expecting the women around him to constantly apologize and that if they don't; if they're bold and forceful and, gasp, unapologetic, that they are somehow shrill or aggressive or not "womanly."

2) Stop dressing him in clothes with "brave" or "strong." M doesn't have many items with words on them because we're minimalists with his wardrobe, but I see these clothes everywhere. Also, he can't read, so maybe this is ridiculous, but I don't want him wearing things that tell him who he's supposed to be or what characteristics are most "manly." He doesn't have to be brave or strong. It's okay to be weak and scared sometimes and to reach out when he needs help.

Also, Gap, why? I get that this is a joke because there's a car on the shirt and that's the "machine," but this double entendre isn't funny, it's just gross. I checked and thankfully there isn't an equivalent for girls because people would FREAK OUT about sexualizing girls like that. So why is this okay for boys?

I know there are many more things I can and will change in the coming years as M grows and becomes more aware of the world. I've read a lot of articles about how to raise feminist kids including this one, and this one and a lot of this advice about busting gender stereotypes, supporting his choices, helping him express emotion, and instilling body autonomy is what we already do. As we make other tweaks and changes, I'll keep posting about them and I'd love to hear about what you do as a parent to raise a feminist.

*I wrote a follow-up post about communicating with boys and helping them manage their feelings here. Plus a recipe for healthy banana bread doughnuts!

 

Vegan raspberry doughnuts

Vegan raspberry doughnuts | Me & The Moose. We’ve lightened up traditional Hannukah jelly doughnuts by baking instead of frying, and using freeze-dried raspberries instead of a sugary jelly filling. #Hannukah #sufganiyot #doughnuts #donuts #raspberries #healthybaking #healthyrecipes

Egads. I meant to post these doughnuts for the first night of Hannukah, which was four days ago. Whoops. Truth be told, I struggled with this post. Initially, I used an Ina recipe for Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts and they were delicious, but very very sweet, especially with the icing and sprinkles I used.

I reduced the sugar in the batter, which definitely helped, but they weren't really a healthy alternative to traditional fried sufganiyot. The mountain of powdered sugar in the icing totally undid any of the benefits of baking. Though I've posted a couple of recipes for holiday cookies and sweets over the past few months, we don't feed M much sugar and when we do, we try to make it the unprocessed variety. I definitely couldn't give him one of these without a side helping of maternal guilt.

So, I decided to make my own healthy alternative that's also safe for kids with allergies. These beauties are egg-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and don't use any processed sugar. They're also super tasty! I'm actually fighting the urge to eat one right now.

Vegan raspberry doughnuts | Me & The Moose. We’ve lightened up traditional Hannukah jelly doughnuts by baking instead of frying, and using freeze-dried raspberries instead of a sugary jelly filling. #Hannukah #sufganiyot #doughnuts #donuts #raspberries #healthybaking #healthyrecipes

A note about flax eggs: In my recent vegan baking adventures, I've tried a few different combinations of flax seed, water, and baking powder. I like Joy the Baker's best. She combines 1 Tbsp of flax seed meal with 3 Tbsp of water and lets this goop sit for 30 minutes. At the end, she stirs in a generous pinch of baking powder and uses the flax egg immediately. I used 1/8 tsp of baking powder and it worked quite well. If using this concoction to replace the eggs in another recipe, don't reduce the amount of baking powder or soda called for in the recipe due to the baking powder in the flax egg.

Vegan raspberry doughnuts | Me & The Moose. We’ve lightened up traditional Hannukah jelly doughnuts by baking instead of frying, and using freeze-dried raspberries instead of a sugary jelly filling. #Hannukah #sufganiyot #doughnuts #donuts #raspberries #healthybaking #healthyrecipes

Vegan raspberry doughnuts

1 Flax egg (1 Tbsp flax seed meal, 3 Tbsp water, and 1/8 tsp baking powder)
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1 Tbsp apple sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup freeze-dried raspberries

Preheat oven to 375. Make flax egg by combining flax seed meal and water and letting sit for 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes, add baking powder and stir. Prep your doughnut pan by spraying with olive or coconut oil.

While the flax egg is setting, combine the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk together the coconut milk, olive oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients and the flax egg to the dry and stir gently with a spatula until just combined. Add the raspberries and stir, breaking them up gently. Spoon mixture into greased doughnut molds until ¾ full.

Bake for 17 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

Yield: 9 donuts

Vegan raspberry doughnuts | Me & The Moose. We’ve lightened up traditional Hannukah jelly doughnuts by baking instead of frying, and using freeze-dried raspberries instead of a sugary jelly filling. #Hannukah #sufganiyot #doughnuts #donuts #raspberries #healthybaking #healthyrecipes

Whole 30: Done and done...? (And a Caesar dressing!)

Kale Caesar salad is delicious and incidentally Whole 30. #Caesar #salad #dressing #meandthemoose

So, my 30 days of clean eating are over and nary a crumb or drop of wheat, grain, dairy, soy, legume, alcohol, or added sugar crossed these lips the entire time. It was, by far, my most successful run of disciplined eating. And I lost 10 lbs.

But then I went back to "real" eating. For the first few days, I felt scared of anything that wasn't Whole 30-approved. Like, eating a grain of quinoa was going to wreak havoc. So I kept up the regimen. Then I had some wine and remembered how much I loooooove wine. So, I decided to rejoin Weight Watchers (guys, Oprah eats bread on Weight Watchers EVERY DAY). But, then I quit Weight Watchers. Then I tried eating Whole 30-approved foods while also recording everything on My Fitness Pal, which then turned into: Eating Whole 30-approved foods but adding back just grains and beans. Then I convinced myself that I should just work out daily to keep the weight off while eating everything in moderation. And then I had a meltdown and ate an entire chocolate babka. Bear in mind that my Whole 30 ended just two short weeks ago. That's a lot of dieting in 14 days. And a lot of babka.

During the Whole 30 I abstained from some of my FAVORITE things without much difficulty and really did feel great. I mentioned in an earlier post that one upside to the plan's rigidity was that I stopped obsessing about my food choices. Welp, that came back full force once I didn't have to follow the Whole 30 rules. I also feel much more obsessed with weight loss than I did before and more discouraged about my ability to stick to a regimen even though I JUST DID IT.

Also, this article came out.

There is hella conflicting information about health and nutrition out there, which I already knew, but is maddening nonetheless. Do I worry more about the content of my food or the volume? Is exercise or eating more central to wellness and weight loss? If I do manage to lose weight, am I one of the teeny percentage of people who can actually keep it off? So, I've been toying with the radical notion of just stopping. Just shutting down the voice in my head that says my worth is inversely proportional to my size. Or that my worth is bound to how I look at all. Or that there's something wrong with how I look. Or that "healthy" has a rigid and universal definition. And just when I think I'm good with that, I feel a clenching in my chest imagining the weigh-in at my next doctor's appointment...

No matter how frustrated with food I might feel, this Caesar dressing is Whole 30, delicious, and will remain in the repertoire. 

Kale Caesar ingredients: Mayo, lemon, dijon, garlic, anchovies, and olive oil. Easy peasy. #Caesar #salad #dressing #meandthemoose

Kale Caesar salad

2 Tbsp Primal Kitchen avocado mayonnaise
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2-3 anchovy filets (look for ones packed in olive oil)*
2 cloves garlic (medium)
3-4 dashes Cholula hot sauce
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
6 cups raw kale

*I've recently realized that some anchovies, particularly the ones that come in a can with a peel-back lid, are what I would call a half filet. If your anchovies aren't double sided or look like they've been butterflied, then double the amount to 4-6 of these half filets.

Combine first six ingredients in a food processor and pulse to chop. Set the food processor to puree and slowly add olive oil in a stream. Add salt and pepper to taste and puree until all ingredients are combined. Remove tough stems from kale, clean, and chop. Toss dressing and greens together and serve.

Caesar dressing. #Caesar #salad #dressing #meandthemoose
Greens. #Caesar #salad #dressing #meandthemoose