Let me take a minute to breathe.
You may have thought I dropped off the face of the earth. The good news is I didn't. The bad news is I've been in a whirlwind of crazy these past few months.
A short synopsis of my recent life: At the very end of September, I found a job (about 2 days before having to move out of my temporary Denver home). This job was in Vail, which meant I had to relocate before I could start work, which meant I had to find a place FAST so I didn't end up homeless. I found an apartment right away, fortunately. A quaint (a very kind word for 270 square feet) place about 20 minutes from work. The job was perfect for me - a dietitian/personal training position at a luxury resort and spa nestled at the base of Vail Mountain. For the past 3 months, I've been working early, late, and every time in between leading group fitness classes, training individuals, doing one-on-one nutrition counseling, and hosting seminars and workshops.
This has left a lot of time for me to talk to people about nutrition, but little time for me to think about nutrition. People judged what I ate 24-7 (imagine people peering over your shoulder every time you put a bite of food in your mouth saying, "Ooh, what's the nutritionist eating?" It's exhausting). For the first time in my life, I experienced wanting everyone to just stop caring about nutrition for 2 minutes so I could rest my brain. I could feel my passion dwindling, and I hated it.
I needed a break and something to reignite the flame that used to fuel my love for good food. I found that in a book (The Omnivore's Dilemma - an excellent read that takes a critical look at our food supply) and a series of recipes that made me feel good. One of those being lentil meatballs.
I'm back now, hopefully for good. So let's talk nutrition...
Why lentils? Lentils are a great meat alternative, meaning they have good amounts of protein, iron, and zinc like meat, but they have a few clear advantages over animal products. 1) They're cheaper. A 16-ounce bag of lentils will probably run you $2. Compare this to ground beef, which is, on average, $3.80/pound. 2) They contain tons of fiber. Good for that GI tract and your cholesterol. 3) They have a much longer shelf life (you can keep them in your pantry).
Fennel seeds are that sweet, licorice-y flavor that's characteristic of Italian sausage. In other words, you just can't go wrong.
Crush those babies up and release the fragrant oils.
A brushing of olive oil over your lentilballs helps them to brown and form a crust on the outside.
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
Serves 2 as a meal, 3-4 as a side
1/2 cup uncooked lentils
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup ricotta
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp fennel seed, crushed
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Rinse the lentils well, removing any debris, and pick out any impurities.
- Cover the lentils with 1 cup cold water, bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain any excess liquid from the lentils.
- Dump the lentils into a food processor and blend smooth.
- Combine the lentil mush, egg, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix in the breadcrumbs and allow the mixture to sit for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400.
- Roll the lentil mixture into 1" balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil.
- Bake for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. The meatballs should be golden brown.
- Serve with roasted broccoli pesto (recipe below).
Roasted broccoli pesto
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 large garlic clove
1 Tbsp walnuts, toasted
1 tsp coconut flakes
2 Tbsp milk (I used soymilk for a nuttier taste)
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Wash the broccoli well. Toss broccoli in olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet.
- Roast the broccoli for 10 minutes or until parts of the florets are looking crispy but the broccoli isn't super soft - you just want the raw bite taken off.
- Place the broccoli, garlic, walnuts, coconut, and milk in a food processor and blend smooth. Slowly add olive oil (a really good, fruity olive oil since you're eating it raw!) until the pesto is at the desired consistency.
- Store any leftover pesto in an airtight container for up to a week.
Labels: bulk bins, lentils, main dish, vegetarian, winter