January 9, 2013

That Vegan Thing: 'Fessing up: I didn't know beans about legumes

By Jeff Peterson

I am a college-educated man and professional nearly 50 years old who really likes to cook, eat and, since becoming vegan, try just about anything for meals. But I have to be honest, when my wife told me we were having curried coconut lentils for dinner a few weeks ago, I really I found myself scratching my head.

I had no idea what the heck lentils were. I didn't want to seem like an idiot and have my wife laugh at me, so I just came home, not knowing what I was getting myself into and ate dinner. What I ate looked a little strange, but was absolutely delicious. Eating this dish was basically like going out to an Indian restaurant.

Lentils are part of the legume family. They are round, oval or heart-shaped and very nutritional. Lentils are high in protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin B, fiber and iron. They can also help in lowering cholesterol levels.

We got this recipe from a cooking class. My wife went to a class that featured macrobiotic cook, educator and author Christy Morgan, who wrote the cookbook "Blissful Bites." The class really helped us in our journey to a life without animal products. Going to a cooking class is a great way to get introduced to new recipes and it can be a lot of fun.

It is time for full disclosure. Not only did I not know what lentils were, but legumes as well. Not only have I been eating healthier, but getting a pretty good education in the kitchen. I hope that when my wife reads this column, she won't laugh too hard.


Adapted from "Blissful Bites" by Christy Morgan

4 cups water, divided

1 cup green lentils, minced

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 medium carrot, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

Pinch of sea salt

1 tablespoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon of coriander

1 teaspoon of turmeric

2 tablespoon of tamari

1 tablespoon of mirin

1 cup grated unsweetened dried coconut

Bring 3 cups of water and lentils to boil in a medium sauce pan. Simmer until almost tender for about 25 minutes. Do not overcook. Heat large skillet with oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery and pinch of salt. Saute for a few minutes until lightly cooked. Add spices and saute for another minute. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, including the lentils and simmer with lid on for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed, so lentils don't stick. Remove lid and cook for another couple minutes until water is cooked off. Then serve right away.

Jeff Peterson anchors the 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. news on WGME-TV and is a vegan.


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