We've got another great guest post from Nancy Cavillones. This one features lentils, which are tasty, easy on the wallet and jam-packed with folate. Folate is crucial to reducing the risk that your baby will be born with a serious neural tube defect; it is imperative that both pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant get enough of this B vitamin.
|Buy lentils in bulk and store in glass jars...saves money and looks great on your countertop!|
Last time, I meant to write a post on feeding your family nutritious meals on a budget but I got sidetracked, if you remember, by my annoyance at the "hide-the-veggies" trend. So, let me get back to my original intent.
Is it just me, or are groceries getting more expensive? I generally set my weekly grocery budget at no more than 100 dollars, for my family of four. Though I am still breastfeeding my 10 month old, she is eating table food and her appetite is quickly ramping up. And my 2.5 year old? She is eating me out of house and home, and I've got plenty of moms of toddlers commiserating with me on Facebook on this one! My own appetite, thankfully, has returned to normal after six months of exclusive breastfeeding. My husband, if you don't know him, is a big dude and kiddo portions don't exactly cut it. So, how do I meet all these different needs without completely busting my grocery budget?
|Organic green lentils, photo from NutsOnline.com|
One word: legumes. So simple, isn't it? I'm going to nerd out a bit on you here and profess my undying love for legumes. Legumes are kind of a superfood-- they are rich in iron, vitamins and protein. Combining legumes with grains and some leafy greens will give you the holy nutrition trifecta, and for not a lot of money, either! Legumes, prepared correctly and served thoughtfully, can be filling and satisfying, even without meat or fish--the two most expensive items on my shopping list, and therefore the first two items to get cut if I'm getting too spendy at the store.
|Organic split peas, photo from NutsOnline.com|
The recipe I have for you today is actually kind of an accident! Mujadarrah is an Indian dish, made with rice and lentils, that I make often enough, albeit a simplified version. I buy lentils in bulk and store them in a canning jar. I also buy other legumes, in their dried form, including split peas. One day, I was organizing my kitchen and absent-mindedly dumped my bag of split peas into the jar of lentils, thinking the peas were green lentils. Oops. Well, there is no separating that mixture of teeny tiny legumes, so I left it and hoped for the best. My last meal of mujadarrah had bonus split peas in it, and it was delicious. So, here you go:
Mama Mujadarrah With Split Peas
(Feeds two hungry adults, one picky toddler and an experimenting 10-month-old, with enough leftover for tomorrow's lunch.)
**Note: I am estimating the amounts of lentils and split peas here since my legumes were combined. Feel free to skip the split peas and use 1 full cup of lentils.
- 1/2 c. lentils, rinsed and checked for debris
- 1/2 c. split peas
- large onion, halved and sliced thin (a mandoline helps, if you have one)
- 1 c. rice
- Olive Oil
- Half a lemon
- Sour cream or greek yogurt (optional)
- In a saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and stir to coat, then turn heat down to low and leave it alone for the most part, stirring only occasionally. The onions will caramelize--let them go way past turning brown, and they'll taste just like French's Fried Onions, yum! This could take upwards of 30 minutes. (You can do the onions ahead of time, and keep them in the fridge until the day you make this dish. The heat from the rice and legumes will warm them back up.)
- In a heavy bottomed pot, heat a tablespoon of the olive oil and add the rice. Stir to coat the rice with oil, season with a generous pinch of salt and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add two cups of water, cover, bring to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Let the rice sit covered for at least five minutes, after turning off the heat.
- In another pot, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add the lentils and peas. Stir to coat, add a generous pinch of salt, and add enough water to just cover the legumes. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it cook for twenty minutes. If there is water left at the end, drain the remaining water.
- In a dish, mix it all together, season with salt and pepper, to taste and squeeze some lemon juice over it. Serve with sour cream or greek yogurt, and a green salad, if you like.
|Photo from Whole Foods|