Red Lentil Challenge – Pumpkin Pie

I know May is just about over but did you know that May is lentil month? And I have a confession; I have never cooked with lentils. For regular readers to this blog that won’t be a surprise. Even though I am adventurous with my eating I am not really that adventurous with my cooking. But since writing this blog I have decided to take on new cooking adventures. So don’t ask me what I was thinking when I was walking through the grocery store last week and I saw this bag of lentils.

Red Lentil Bag

Yes, I bought this huge bag of lentils, I am crazy! I gave myself a challenge alright; I’m going to be cooking with red lentils for a very long time. So now I have all these lentils sitting in my cupboard, what do I do with them? My first step was to start looking through my cookbooks to find an easy recipe to work with.

This was a no brainer. I pulled out my Spilling the Beans cookbook by Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan. I have had great success with this book. I was pleasantly surprised to find there was a recipe for my favourite pie, pumpkin. That sealed the deal and when I looked through my cupboards I had most of the ingredients on hand. So of course, I made the pie.

Spilling the Beans

The recipe is below but here are a few observations based on my experience. I don’t have a food processor so I used my blender to mix all the ingredients together. I don’t know if it was because of this but I ended up with a lot of pie filling left over. I might have been able to pull two pies out of this recipe instead of one. Also, I didn’t use the optional molasses but after tasting I decided to add a couple of sprinkles of pumpkin pie spice before I poured it into the pie shell.

Red Lentils Rinsed

Red Lentil Pumpkin Pie Pre Oven

And what was the response at my house? My husband enjoyed it, he said you could tell there was a little something added because of the texture but he liked the taste. He even went so far to say he would like it if I used this recipe for my Thanksgiving pies. My son, the picky eater, loved it. He gobbled it up and immediately asked for another piece. I was shocked. And me, well I was happy with the end result. I had my piece with a scoop of Coconut Sorbetto from Fiasco Gelato which paired very nicely together. I will definitely be making this again.

Red Lentil Pumpkin Pie with Fiasco Gelato Coconut Sorbetto

This is good because I have a feeling I will still have those bag of lentils in my cupboard by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. But stay tuned, I will post more of my red lentil recipe adventures. I’ll try something savory next.

Red Lentil Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

1/3 cup (80 mL) dry red lentils

14 oz (398 mL) can pureed pumpkin

3/4 cup (185 mL) half and half, evaporated 2% milk, or whipping cream

1/2 cup (125 mL) sugar

1/2 cup (125mL) packed brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 Tbsp (15mL) molasses (optional)

1 Tbsp (15mL) grated fresh ginger, or 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) ground ginger

1 tsp (5mL) vanilla

1 tsp (5mL) ground cinnamon or more to taste

1/4 tsp (1mL) ground allspice

Pinch of Salt

1 Unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Instructions:

In a small sauce pan, cover the lentils with water and bring to a boil; cook for 20 minutes, or until very soft.  Drain.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the lentils into the bowl of a food processor with the remaining ingredients (except the crust, of course) and pulse until well blended and smooth.  Pour into the crust.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the filling is set but still just a little wobbly in the middle and the crust is golden.  If the crust is browning too quickly, cover the pie lightly with a sheet of tin foil as it bakes.  Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  Serve at room temperature with whipped cream sweetened with a little sugar or maple syrup and spiked with a few drops of vanilla.

Makes 1 pie.

Treat of the Week – Burgers

Last week I talked about YYC Burger Week.  When the event started I was really excited and was going to try to eat as many burgers as possible.  I am sad to say that I did not do as well as I wanted and there were many burgers left untouched for me.  I missed out on Blowfish Sushi’s entry with the Ramen Noodle Bun and Yellow Door Bistro’s Beef Cheek Burger.

Even though I did not try some of those higher dollar burger competitors, I did the best that I could with the time that I had.  I started out strong, not much going on in the middle and went out with a bang.  Here is the story of my burger week adventures.

Friday, May 2 – Naina’s Kitchen

My husband and I decided we would take our son to go try Naina’s, last year’s winner.  A lot of people were saying that they were out-of-the-way but for us it was the closet restaurant.  We had never been there before and we were pretty happy we went.  There was no way my kid would eat the special but he was very happy with his cheeseburger.  As for us, we were really glad to eat the Pepper Steak Stuffed Burger.  The ooey gooey Sirloin burger was stuffed with sautéed onions, peppers, Stilton and Mozzarella.  This burger was very tasty and I especially appreciated that they let me order salad as my side.  As a family we will definitely be back to try the regular menu.

Naina's Kitchen Pepper Steak Stuffed Burger

Saturday, May 3 – Kingsland Farmers Market

Ok, the great thing about Kingsland Farmers Market is that there are two burgers side by side, so if you came hungry you could do two of the entries at once.  I had some errands to do and my husband watched our son so I could go stuff my face in peace.  I am a regular visitor to Kingsland so it was my pleasure to visit two places I love.

The first stop was Eats of Asia where Jay fixed me up their Busan Bao.  I love the Bao here, so light and fluffy, so I was excited for this.  What you get is a Bulgogi Beef Patty, Korean BBQ Sauce and Chopped Green Onions all on Steamed Bao.  True to form the Bao were like tasty little pillows and the burger was extremely flavourful.  I was not disappointed.

Eats of Asia Busan Bao

And just as I was finishing up Margaret from Primal Soup Company brought me her Comfort Burger.  Now this was not your traditional kind of burger but what a great sandwich, truly living up to its name.  Made as you like,the basics are Mac’N’Cheese, caramelized onions and bacon served on a home-baked bun.  On that snowy Calgary day in May it hit the spot, delicious.

Primal Soup Company Comfort Burger

May 4 to 9 – Salads and lots of other boring stuff

May 10 – Let the burger coma begin

At this point I didn’t know if I would get any more burger eating in.  My husband must love me.  He gave me the afternoon and sent me on my merry way.  The goal, to eat burgers until I could eat no more.

At my friend Wanda’s suggestion I decided to go to Flippn’ Burgers in Kensington.  She is a YYC Burger Week ambassador after all so she should know right?  Well she sure did.  This feature burger had a feature I particularly am fond of, an egg.  So I was really happy to try the Sunnyside Flipp. This is it, 6oz burger, melted smoked gouda, sautéed mushrooms and peppers, frizzled onions, and baby spinach on a fresh white Kaiser with melted garlic butter, topped with Provencal mustard an egg and a smoke sauce.  Yes that is a lot of goodness and it lived up to Wanda’s suggestion.  I came for the egg but they had me with the fresh sautéed mushrooms and peppers.

Flippn' Burgers Sunnyside Flipp

As I sat eating my yummy, messy burger I looked at my YYC Burger Week passport to contemplate my next stop. Just down the street was an intriguing option that I had heard a lot of good things about.  Next stop Oak Tree Tavern.

YYC Burger Week Passport

I hope my cousin up north would be proud, I went for the Klondike Burger!  What a thing of beauty this was.  An elk burger served on bannock bread with cranberries and sage.  And yes, this is just as good as it all sounds, maybe better.  The balance between sweet and savoury was perfect.  I knew this burger was made with love.  Now even though it had a gamey taste, it is elk after all, I completely was taken.  I ate every bite.  I really hope they put this back on the menu after burger week because this was amazing.  Oh, a side note, they had one of my favourite ciders, Sea Cider Rumrunner, what a treat!

Oak Tree Tavern Klondike Burger

So did I have one more in me after all that?  Yes I did. Well, after a little stroll through Kensington and a drive to my next destination.

I haven’t eaten at Billingsgate Seafood Market before but my Mom loves to eat here.  I also had heard good things about this special so I thought I would try it.  Another non-traditional burger awaited my taste buds.  The Samurai Ahi Tuna Burger is 5oz of Ahi Tuna Steak Seared with Soy and Sesame Oil, Topped with Crispy Fried Dulse, Salmon Ikura Roe & a Wasbi Aioli Between A Baked Fresh Daily Cobs Breads Bun.  The tuna was cooked perfectly and was a nice light option for my third burger in three hours.  Yes, I’m crazy.  I also liked the texture with the dulse and really liked the wasabi and roe.  It was like eating sushi, on a bun.  I was pretty happy I decided to stop by.

Billingsgate Market Samurai Ahi Tuna Burger

Out of 30 restaurants I got to six.  I know that others were able to get to much more but all in all I’m pretty happy with what I accomplished.  I know that each burger I ate was contributing to a local charity and I think Made by Momma made a little from me this week.  And the best thing, I got to try some new places that I would definitely go to again.

And who was the best?  They were all so good so don’t make me choose but I think the Klondike Burger tops my list. Thanks for putting together such a great event YYC Burger Week! 

Last note, yes I borrowed the ingredients list for all these burgers from the YYC Burger Week website, I didn’t want to miss anything.

A Little Bit of Everything

I have so much I want to talk about so I am just going to get started.

First, some of you may be wondering about Project 40 for 40.  I’m going to be honest with you, it is not really happening right now. Last month I decided to take a week off for my birthday and the week off never really stopped.  In the back of my head I still think about it so I’m attempting to eat salads and get healthy food in me but I am not tracking.  And I haven’t stepped on the scale in a month so I don’t know where I am at.  The 40 for 40 journey will continue as soon as I get my head back in the game which will hopefully be soon.

But in the meantime, there is a fun event happening in Calgary that started this week, YYC Burger Week.  I have tasted some of the offerings so far and I will post more about that next weekend.  I encourage you to get out and try some burgers.  The money raised goes to three great local charities so it’s not all about the food.  But the burgers are awesome too.

YYC Burger Week

But that isn’t all I wanted to talk to you about. This past week my son’s school held it’s first ever Cultural Night.  I was really excited that they decided to do this and was looking forward to the evening.  The response was amazing and we had 300 people indicate they would come with about 30 different countries represented!

When I walked into the gym that night it was so cool to see kids dressed up in the costumes from their cultures and performing dances they have learned.  But the highlight for me were tables with artifacts from the cultures and of course full of all kinds of food.  I was helping with a table outside of the gym so I didn’t quite get to see all the festivities.  And I definitely didn’t get a chance to eat as much as I wanted but I was really happy with what I tried.

Egypt Table

Lebanon

Philippines

My favourite thing of the night was this guy.  While I was watching my table outside he walked by holding this treat.  I asked him what it was and he said it was Raisin White Rice Cake.  That then sparked a conversation that he was from South Korea and his Mom made this treat that he loved.  I immediately sent my husband in to get me one and they were so good.

Korean Raisin White Rice Cake

Now I didn’t sign up for a country because we are Canadian.  Even though our family originates from Scotland I don’t make haggis and I’m very sad to say I don’t have any kilts in the house.  But my fellow country men, both Canadian and Scots had me covered.  The United Kingdom table had a representative from MacEwan’s Meats with a crockpot full of haggis, carrots, and turnip.  I hadn’t had haggis since I was last in Scotland quite a while ago so this was a nice treat.

Haggis

Not to be forgotten my fellow Canadians represented us well.  In a hallway away from the gym they set up a mini hockey game where all the kids were able to get their energy out.  And of course the Canadian table was full of butter tarts, maple leaf cookies and Timbits.

Canada Table

What a fun night, and my son even tried some new food which for us is an accomplishment.  I can’t wait until we do it again next year.

40 for 40 Update – March 1

I am a little behind but I must tell you even though I haven’t been writing, good things have been happening.  The weight loss continues and I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped on the scale this morning.  Today, I am at a total of 23 pounds down.  Yes 23 pounds!

I haven’t been at this weight for at least five years and it feels good.  I also met one of my goals today.  When my husband and I were in Las Vegas five years ago I bought this really great jacket.  The problem was when we got back I was on the verge of gaining all my weight back and pretty soon the jacket didn’t fit anymore.

Two years ago when I started this journey it was one of my goals to fit back into that jacket.  It is pretty much one of the first things in my closet and I see it everyday.  Some days I look at it and say forget it, and some days I look at it with a smile knowing I will get to wear it again soon.

Today I tried it on for the first time in a very long time.  And it fit!  And it didn’t just fit, it fit properly.  I am so excited and happy.  Now I am hoping that I won’t shrink out of it by the time spring rolls around when I want to wear it.  These are good problems to have.

So here is a motivational tip I learned from Weight Watchers that paid off today.  Put your goal somewhere where you can see it, look at and remind you of what you are working for.  Some people put a photo on their fridge or on their desk to remind them everyday what their goal is.  I hung a jacket in my closet where I would see it everyday.  It’s a gentle reminder of what you are working towards and in my case it also had an achievable result.

So that was my week and today is splurge day. And for the food people in my life who haven’t already seen these, here is what I have been noshing on today to celebrate.  I’ll be back to the business of losing weight tomorrow.

Scones

Candied Ginger Chocolate and Garden Herb Cheddar Scones, recipe from http://www.patentandthepantry.com

Donair Grill

Mixed Combo with Tzatziki combined with Siracha from Donair Grill.

Donair Grill Baklava

Baklava from Donair Grill.

40 for 40 Update – February 8

What a difference a week makes.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with my results this week.  It was so cold I couldn’t even drag myself to the treadmill on Monday.  Instead I found comfort under my fuzzy warm blanket.  Then mid-week I started to feel ill and activity was definitely out.  It was hard enough even getting a balanced food day in.  I tried my best, that is all I could have done.

And to my surprise when I weighed myself this morning, I lost weight.  And I just didn’t lose a little weight, I lost a lot.  As of this morning I am 19.5 pounds down.  I really couldn’t believe it.  And that has been the highlight of the week, knowing that I am almost half way there.  I also think it’s been about five years since I have last been at this weight so I am pretty happy.

I did want to give a quick mention to my friends at SPUD (Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery) Calgary.  They really have been a godsend.  I order food from them every week and they deliver to my house on Thursday.  Because I am so busy right now I don’t always get a chance to do a proper shopping trip.  When I order with them, I know I will get healthy, delicious produce delivered to my door and it really keeps me going through the week.  And you know those pomelos and avocados you have been seeing on the blog?  Well, that’s from them.  And this week I wanted to give a shout out to their peppers.  In this gloomy, white weather it sure is nice to get a shock of colour in the diet.

So stay tuned, who knows what next week has in store for me.

SPUD Calgary Peppers

40 for 40 Update – February 1

What a great week it’s been. It’s weird to say but it’s been like a honeymoon week. Those of you who have been through weight loss know what I’m talking about. This past week I have been focused. I didn’t stray from healthy eating and had amazing energy to get my activity in. The weight is starting to feel like it is dropping off my body and best of all? I am starting to fit back into clothes I haven’t worn for a couple of years. I might even have to buy a new belt in a couple of weeks. What could be better than that? Nothing. I’m feeling good.

It’s validating too when the results back up how you are feeling. I was interested and excited to step on the scale this morning. When I did I discovered I had lost two pounds this week. Awesome! So the journey continues, I am now 17 pounds down! And again, I stress that this is from when I started my weight loss journey two years ago. Yes it has been a good week.

So there isn’t a healthy treat of the week but I wanted to share this photo with you. I know I talk about Fiasco Gelato a lot but they are just really special to me. This week they introduced their Valentine’s Day flavours and I strongly suggest you get out and try them. They are offered not only at their test kitchen but at five Bernard Callebaut locations throughout the city. My particular favourite on this splurge day is the Dark Chocolate Raspberry, so sweet.

Have a great week everyone.

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Treats of the Week – Anju and Avocados

This week started out with a really great treat.  Last Sunday I was lucky enough to snag reservations for Model Milk’s Sunday Supper featuring the delicious Korean food from Roy Oh.  Mike and I have had memorable meals at Roy’s old Anju location that closed down a few months ago and in fact, Anju was the first restaurant I talked about on the blog.  I have missed the Oxtail Tortellini and Korean Fried Chicken Wings.  I also enjoyed some new tastes like the amazing Plancha Seared Mackerel and addictive Red Bean filled Donut Holes.  It was fun to a get a glimpse of what’s to come at Roy’s new Anju Restaurant, which will be opening very soon.  I can’t wait!  The other nice thing about the evening was sharing the family style meal with old and new friends.

The light was not great so I didn’t get many photos but here’s the menu and a very blurry shot of the donuts.  I would have been very happy if I walked out of there with a bag of those.

Model Milk Anju pop up menu

Anju Pop Up Donuts

Now to talk about the healthy portion of this post.  I had purchased some avocados last weekend and at that time they were still quite hard.  I left them on the counter to soften them up a bit and then forgot about them.  I panicked on Wednesday when I rediscovered them and they were soft.  I had no time to eat them so I put them in the fridge hoping they would last for a couple more days.  On Thursday I got home later and was starving.  I looked in the fridge and the avocados were calling my name.  All I did was mash one up, mixed it with some green salsa and salt and had it on a toasted English muffin.  What a satisfying snack.

The other avocado I had was sliced up and thrown in with some grapefruit for a salad at work the next day.  I have talked about that salad before on the blog too, you can find the recipe here.

Avocado Grapefruit Salad

Some people may not think that avocados are good when trying to lose weight because of the calorie and fat content.  But they are chock-a-block full of nutrients and fibre.  If you eat half of one they are only about 160 calories, they will fill you up and they are really tasty.  Yes they are high in fat but it is the healthy kind of fat we all need in our diet, monounsaturated fat.  So don’t be afraid to eat them.

Avocados

Ok, ok, for those of you wondering about 40 for 40, yes there was weight loss too this week.  As of today I am 15 pounds down, only 25 more to go.  See you next week.