I’m not generally the sort to go out of my way to make New Year’s resolutions. I know myself well enough to know that I’m not likely to stick with any crazy exercise schedule I try to set in an end of year rush of fantastical whimsy. Instead of saying “Let’s lose 20 pounds this year,” I usually try and set a goal I’m a bit more likely to reach.
Let’s be a bit healthier this year.
Healthy for me, and I think most people will agree, isn’t just about how far you can run and how many pushups you can do. (Albeit, my dog would probably like it if I took him on runs more often. It’s not my fault he’s got stubby legs and can’t keep up! Gosh!) Being healthy is also about what you are eating.
Now, I’m a foodie kinda chick. I’ll blame it on my Italian ancestry and my dad’s insane kitchen talents (Gorden Ramsey’s got nothing on Pops.)
I love to cook. However, I had always thought eating healthy can be a bit of a chore; it’s simply too taxing to look for all the ingredients, when pizza has all four food groups already—(am I right, people?) It’s just cheaper, with respect to time and money, to eat like a fatty-fat kid. I don’t have recipes or the time, and, dagnabbit, I just don’t know where to start.
Well, I heard about this Foodie Friday class being put on by the Health and Wellness Center and thought I’d give it a shot. I got my game face on, went in hungry, ready to take a bite out of whatever healthy challenge they wanted to throw at me — bring on the broccoli!
What did I get?
You read that right.
You may have seen them at the commissary. They are cute, little beans sitting on the shelf that you may have glanced at and hastily scooted your little buggy on by without the thought of ever actually sticking them in your face. Why? Well, that’s often the case for me because I’m a self-proclaimed carnivore.
They don’t look like much and, in my experience, I had found these squishy little pods packed a heck of a lot of “healthy” but not a whole lot of flavor.
Apparently, I’d been doing it wrong.
What was brought to my plate was a heaping serving of witchcraft with a side of homemade pasta. They were great! I wanted more. But the part of me that was carnivore was in revolt.
“Blasphemy,” I thought. “Nothing good for you can have decent flavor; that is a law of nature.”
I opted to steal away the recipe to my dungeon (AKA my kitchen at home) with every intent of garnering their secrets.
And, lucky for you readers, here’s my first attempt…
Swabian-style German Lentils
The recipe itself is pretty easy to follow and all the necessary ingredients can be found in the commissary. If you prefer to shop on the economy, any local grocery store should have what you need. The basic recipe is listed below, but in the class they offered some variations, which I chose to follow instead. You can find them in the additional notes below the main recipe.
-5 slices of thick cut bacon, diced
-1 large yellow onion, finely diced
-1 tablespoon butter
-1 carrot, finely diced
-1 leek, finely chopped, thoroughly rinsed and drained
-1 pound of dried lentils, rinsed and drained (no need to soak)
-7 cups of beef broth (I used low sodium)
-1 bay leaf
-1 teaspoon of salt
-¼ teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
-1 teaspoon of white sugar
-¼ cup of white vinegar
-2 tablespoons of parsley, extra for garnish if desired
-6 Wiener Wϋrstchen (optional)
Cook the bacon over medium-high heat until done. Transfer to a plate. Cook the onion until soft and translucent 5-7 minutes. Add the butter, carrots and leek and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the lentils, bacon, broth, bay leaf, salt, pepper and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
Add the vinegar and parsley, and simmer another 3-4 minutes. If too thick for your taste, add a little extra beef broth. Add more salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar for taste. Stick in face (or eat, whatever) while still warm or refrigerate for later consumption.
In the Foodie Friday class, the gentleman who made this strayed away from the vanilla version, and I opted to follow in the ways of his teaching. I added a can of petite, diced tomatoes (no need to drain them) and I excluded the bacon and German sausage.
Additionally, I substituted all but one cup of the beef broth for vegetable stock. You can exclude the beef broth entirely to make a vegetarian dish, but I tried it to see if it added anything. Really, it didn’t change the flavor all that much, so I’d probably recommend going one way or the other for the sake of simplicity and only having to buy one particular flavor of base.
I may recommend getting an electric veggie chopper to make sure all the pieces are small and evenly cooked. I personally went a little heavy-handed on the pepper and parsley, but that’s my personal preference. Don’t be afraid to play with the herbs, but wait until after you’ve simmered it so the flavors settles in and have some time to come together.
They turned out awesome! However, to make sure my judgement at the time was sound, I opted to refrigerate these bad boys overnight and bring them into the office for my coworkers. After some initial prodding to get them to try it and urging them to reheat the cold dish, I received positive remarks unanimously.
“The recipe screamed healthy to me,” said Tea Rechtz, our resident master food tester (PA would like to note that “Tea Rechtz,” as he chooses to be called, is in fact NOT a licensed master food tester nor have they reached any recognizable level of certification as a taste tester from any accredited organization.) “Part of me wanted to throw in Fritos and shredded cheese, but then I remembered that nothing tastes as good as feeling thin. It may not look like much– I mean, they’re lentil beans. Compared to black-eyed peas or garbanzo beans, they’re the little beans that just couldn’t — but a minute in the microwave brought out the most from this concoction. More please!”
So there you have it: somehow these little beans I had never given a thought about had me wondering what other misconceptions I bought into for years about eating healthy. Where do I or any of us begin on this new found quest for healthy food that is ALSO tasty?
Well, guess what?
The brand spanking new Foodie Friday cookbook has got you covered!
The Foodie Friday Cookbook, presented to you straight from the Spangdahlem HAWC at the astonishing price of absolutely free is a little virtual manual of calorie-conscious goodness ready and waiting to help you get healthy one swift kick in the taste buds at a time!
Sound right up your alley?
GOOD! Because it’s right up mine, too! This little gem contains a handful of popular recipes, each with a healthy twist, to help you get your yum on without gaining 20 pounds around your bum.
Now you might be saying, Sarah, what the poop is Amaranth?
Where do I get green curry paste?
Are these recipes difficult?
These are all amazing questions I have absolutely no idea about the answers. But, I’m willing to find out in Spangdahlem Live’s brand new blog series “Foodie Chick Diaries.”
In the quest to figure out, not only can I make it, but can I eat it, we’ll be covering the contents of the Foodie Friday cook book a recipe at a time. I’ll provide locations to get ingredients, difficulty rating, pretty, pretty pictures, and, of course, taste test reviews by my coworkers here at PA.
It’s a new year maybe with a new you and with new food I can’t wait to sink my teeth into!
If you’ve got an appetite for more, contact the Health and Wellness Center for the full cook book!