Lebanese Lentils, Rice, and Carmelized Onions (Mudajara) by Aarti Sequeira of The Food Network

So, the first time I fell in love with this was in the combination appetizer at Mediterranean Cuisine, near Vanderbilt’s campus.  The restaurant moved downtown (although, when I just looked, it seems it is back on campus again!!).  This is not the most amazing restaurant in the world, but it provided me with options on a campus where there were few.  Anyway, I would combine the hummus and the lentils and rice, and it was my favorite weekly or bi-weekly treat.  When they moved, I made sure I could make this at home.

This is my favorite of the available recipes online.  It can be made with white or brown basmati rice.  Serve with hummus, roasted veggies, and soy Greek yogurt.  Perfection.

Buy great bulk lentils at North Bay Trading Co.

Buy great bulk lentils at North Bay Trading Co. Photo credited to North Bay Trading Co.

1 cup brown or green lentils (not lentils du Puy), sorted for debris and rinsed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
3 medium red onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
3/4 cup basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons pine nuts, optional
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
[soy] Greek yogurt, for serving, optional

Throw the lentils into a medium saucepan. Fill with enough cold water to cover the lentils by about an inch. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, as the lentils cook, grab a large skillet. Pop it over medium-high heat and add the oil. Allow the oil to warm for a minute, then drop in the cumin seeds and cracked peppercorns and cook, shaking the pan once in a while until the cumin seeds darken a touch, about 1 minute.

Add the onions, sprinkle with a dash of salt and cook until they turn dark caramel brown, stirring often. This will take about 15 minutes. Splash the onions with a little water if they stick to the bottom of the pan. You’ll know they’re done both by their deep chestnut color and by the slight crispiness developing on some of the onions.

Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove about half of the onions to a paper towel-lined plate; these are for garnish later. Sprinkle in the ground cumin, cayenne and then add the cinnamon stick; saute about 1 minute.

Add the rice and cook, stirring often (but gently so you don’t break the rice!) until some rice grains start to brown. Quickly, add the cooked lentils, 3 cups of water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt; bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low so that the pan is at a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes. The water should be completely evaporated and rice should be tender. (If there’s still too much water in the bottom, put the lid back on and cook for another 5 minutes.)

Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts, if using, in a small skillet over medium-low heat, shaking often, about 5 minutes.

Taste the rice for seasoning. Serve with the reserved caramelized onions, toasted pine nuts, if using, and a little squeeze of lemon juice. I also like to serve this with some dollops of Greek yogurt.

Original post, here.


Homemade Vegan Ranch Dressing by Joyful Turtle

This is great.  Adjust the seasoning to your taste.


    • 1 1/2 cup vegenaise or vegan mayonnaise
    • 1/4 cup soy milk
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper
    • 2 tsp parsley
    • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp fresh chopped dill or 1/4 tsp dried dill


Combine all ingredients in blender or whisk well by hand. Adjust soy milk and vegan mayonnaise for thickness. Make a thicker version for ranch dip!

Original post, here.

Dr. Oz’s 3-Day Detox Cleanse

So, I’ve been fasting/monodieting/detoxing for many, many years now.  I have done the Master Cleanse.  I have eaten only kitchari for days.  I have done a variety of things, many for which I was mentally and physically prepared.  At the end of my semester, with my chapter deadline looming (technically, it still is), I looked at the bags of organic lemons and just couldn’t do it.

So, I looked around the webs-space and ran into this:  Dr. Oz’s 3-Day Detox Cleanse.  Let me be perfectly clear:  I’m not an Oz-ite.  I think he is doing great things, especially mainstreaming Ayurveda (which doesn’t even get spell-checked by my computer, anymore!!).  But, I don’t follow him.  Still, this seemed packed with some great alternatives the the more dramatic Master Cleanse that I thought I wanted to do. 


I ended up doing sort of 5 days.  I know it is only a 3-day cleanse, but I really wanted to extend the experience (and make up for my inability to do the MC).  How ridiculous, I know… yet still.

On Day 1, I water fasted for most of the day, with only the exception of one small coconut water, because I had to wrangle all of the ingredients for the detox.  I was so concerned that if I ate anything, I wouldn’t actually do the Oztox.  I had the coconut water because I had never tasted it before and I was curious.  It was incredibly refreshing, and it perked me up for the balance of the day.

So… that late afternoon and later evening, I made and consumed the “breakfast drink” and the “dinner drink.”  I knew this was going to be a good thing.  The breakfast drink was DELICIOUS (yes, caps-and-italics-delicious).  It was sweet, but not too sweet.  The raspberries, berries that I rarely use because of their delicate nature, were extraordinary.  I need more raspberries in my life, clearly.  The dinner drink was HUGE, filling, and kind of creamy delicious.  This was my first experience with coconut water.  I became a fan.

On Day 2, I woke up wanting white cake with white icing.  I mean… I mean… with every fiber of by being. Every. Fiber.  Ok, but I pressed on.

Happy, again, with the morning drink.  I found myself anxious about the lunch drink, because it sounded the least appetizing to me.  I loved all of the things in it, but just couldn’t put it together in a shake.  And, well, I was right.  I used unsweetened almond milk, and the bitter taste of all of the greens (I think mostly the celery) was overwhelming.  I had to choke it down.  But I did it.  I kept thinking that I wished it was just savory.


Anger, fear, aggression, cake; the dark side of the Force are they.

I knew I’d be traveling during the day on Day 3, so during the Day 2 evening I made the lunch shake for Day 3, put it in a tupperware container, and froze it.  We’ll see (shudder). The day ended with me still wanting cake, but happy to have the dinner shake.  I went to bed early (around 10 pm) because I was so low energy.  And, because I was anxious about the next day (and had to get up at a decent time).  I had a little trouble sleeping, but I guess that it was more about my travel plans than anything.

Day 3 was the day of the harrowing grocery store adventure.  I knew that I’d need to re-up my supplies, when I woke up that morning.  The cake desire remained strong.  I had to go to a funeral in Memphis, that day.  I woke up early, ade my breakfast shake, loaded up the car (including an extra banana and a handful of almonds, “just in case”) and headed out.  I had plenty of water on hand and my green tea.  Cake cake cake.  But, cake (desire) did not make this day hard.

"Yellow Rose" by Rob Wiltshire

“Yellow Rose” by Rob Wiltshire

Funerals.  It is hard enough to attend to your own feelings at a funeral, but it is a particular kind of complicated when your feelings are less about the person who is being honored and more about a loved one or loved ones affected greatly by loss.  It was good that I went.  Still, there existed an element of the surreal when I saw my adviser sit by her own headstone.


On my way home I went to the grocery store, to gather supplies for the next two days.  I confronted my own distrust for myself and my ability to resist the cake.  I made it.  I did.  And for that I am glad.  I want to trust myself more.  I want to want to do the good things.

Day 4 and Day 5 were absolutely uneventful.  I prepared to leave my house rental for the summer, so I was certainly busy.  My food cravings were G.O.N.E. Yay! And, I made it through. I realized my digestion was reset perfectly.  I had lots of energy for all of the packing I had to do. I ended Day 5 with a small bowl of kitchari, so that I could eat at my friend’s housewarming on Sunday.

Dr. Oz’s cleanse was great.  I will return to this, surely!  Maybe pretty soon.

Homemade Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread by Giada De Laurentis (Food Network)

So, I’m going to try this, vegan-style.  I will substitue the condensed milk with agave nectar and almond creamer (to start), accounting also for the honey substitution.  Also, I just discovered Mimiccream in the Harrisburg Wegmans, so I’m going to play with this a bit for the recipe. Please note that I edit very little when posting a recipe (I believe in the integrity of the original form).

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (3 ounces)
3/4 cup skinned hazelnuts, toasted (about 4 ounces)
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk, such as Eagle Brand
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Toasted baguette slices
Sliced fruit, such as apples, pears, pineapple and/or bananas
Cook’s Note: To toast the hazelnuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 15 to 18 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Grind the nuts in a food processor until pasty (the nuts will be stuck to the sides of work bowl), 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the condensed milk, honey and salt. Blend well, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the cooled chocolate and pulse until combined. Transfer the spread to a small bowl.

Serve with the toasts and sliced fruit.

Cook’s Note: The chocolate can also be melted in a microwave. Microwave the chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl in 15-second intervals until the chocolate is very soft. Stir until melted and smooth.

Original post, here.


As a note to self (or perhaps a note to whomever is reading this)… If I fail, this is an AMAZING spread:

roasted tofu and kale with pine nuts + delicious surprises from The First Mess

I can’t with this!  Not only this particular recipe, but this ENTIRE website.  Review of the recipe on the way!  I borrowed the picture from the site, as well… I might have actually found true love.

© 2011-2012 The First Mess.

© 2011-2012 The First Mess.

chili, lemon and herb roasted tofu with kale and pine nuts
inspired by Bryant Terry
serves: 2
notes: I make this dish all on one sheet pan. Choose one thats big enough to accommodate everything and just add the components as time winds down. Also, any strong spice or flavour would be great here, this dish is pretty open to interpretation.

1 lemon, zest and juice
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
salt and pepper
3 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 package (227g) organic firm to extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 bunch kale, leaves removed and torn into 1.5 inch-ish pieces
small handful of pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the lemon zest, sliced garlic, chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Grind it up until a dry paste is achieved. Add the lemon juice and oil and grind until mixture is unified.

Pour about half of the oil and lemon juice mixture into a large bowl. Toss it with the cubes of tofu very gently. Place onto  the parchment-lined baking sheet in one tight section. Roast for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and gently toss the tofu cubes with a fork or spatula. Place back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes.

Toss the kale with the remaining oil and lemon juice mixture in the large bowl. Remove the tofu from the oven and place the kale on most of the remaining space of the tray. Roast for 10 more minutes. Place pine nuts on the tray and roast for another 2-3 minutes, until tofu is quite browned, kale has wilted and crisped a bit and the pine nuts are golden.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Original post (with MORE amazing pictures).