Garlicky Red Lentil Soup

This is one of our favorite lentil soups. If you've never cooked with red lentils before, they may be a bit harder to find but they are worth the hunt. They cook up softer than green or brown lentils and I think they have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Most health food stores carry red lentils these days, including Whole Foods.

This soup recipe is from the cookbook, Soup; Superb Ways with a Classic Dish, and is super easy to make...well beyond mincing up two onions. Get out those swim googles so you don't cry like a baby and risk chopping your fingers. It does take about 90 minutes to cook though, so best to make it on a weekend and eat it as leftovers during the week. It holds up well for about a week and also freezes perfectly...I often make a double batch. 
Chicken & Chickpea Stew

I love chickpeas, soups and pretty much anything spicy...so seeing that this dish has all three going on it's really no surprise that it's one of my favorite winter dishes. It's one of those rustic dishes that kind of tastes like home, no matter where you're from.  Super simple ingredients, relatively easy preparation and delicious. One thing to note though...I would consider this more of a soup than a stew because the broth is thin, but since it's served over bread I've stuck with calling it stew.

The original recipe, shown below, is from the Bon Appétit February 2012 issue and I've pretty much been making it consistently since then. Usually when I share recipes here I like to share my own adaptions that I think make them even better, but to be honest this one is so good in it's original form that it's pretty much identical to what you'll find here on the Bon Appétit website.

Two changes I do usually make though;  I double the recipe below since it only makes about 4 servings and I roast my own peppers instead of buying pre-roasted peppers. Roasting your own peppers is so easy, cheap and makes your house smell so good that I strongly recommend it. As long as you have a gas stove you can follow my tutorial for how to do it included in this recipe...and then I promise, you'll never pay a premium for roasted red peppers again!

Weekly Menu: January 26 – February 1, 2014
Sunday: Chicken & Chickpea Stew
Monday: Lentil Country Supper
Tuesday: Leftovers: Chicken & Chickpea Stew
Wednesday: Leftovers: Lentil Country Supper
Thursday: Leftovers: Chicken & Chickpea Stew
Friday: Easy DIY Dinner
Saturday: Eat Out
Cooking for one isn't nearly as much fun is cooking for two...but it does mean that you don't need to cook as often since leftovers stretch further.  So I apologize if my menus aren't quite as diverse or helpful for those of you with larger families...but there are lots of good recipes in the archives to round out your week if you need them.

Both of the main meals this week are two of my all-time favorites. The Chicken & Chickpea Stew is hearty and fulfilling, but also leaves you feeling healthy and well nourished which some winter stews don't.  The spice and roasted red pepper add a nice kick that keeps my spoon going in for more even after I'm full!  Lentil Country Supper is a recipe that at first glance, sounds a bit boring.  But it's simple, rustic nature works so well and the sprinkling of herbs on the eggs give it just the right flavor.  A great vegetarian meal to round out your weekly menu.  Friday I"m just going to wing it...based on what I have in the house.  Maybe english muffin pizzas or a vegetarian pasta or even a bowl of cereal...whatever strikes the mood!
The 2013 Whole Living Detox – Week 2 Update

The 2013 Whole Living Detox is still in full swing in the SavoryGirl household...two weeks down and one to go!  I'm still feeling pretty great...the turbulent tummy and headaches of week one are gone and I'm still sleeping really well. I'm not waking up naturally as easily and early as I did week one, but I guess it's to be expected that your body would adjust. I don't think I've lost any more weight but I have maintained the same weight since week one so certainly not gaining any back. Week two brought back gluten-free grains, fish and the sweet relief of real breakfast again which made me extremely happy.  Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day so the smoothie-only breakfasts of week one were a little tough!

The Cardamom Quinoa Porridge with Pears and Toasted Almonds shown above was really good and probably something I'll continue to make even after the cleanse is over. Kind of like oatmeal, but a bit lighter and more savory. Christian could practically live on pancakes so he was thrilled to see them included in this week's menu and these healthy Banana-Oat Pancakes with Orange Segments and Honey did not disappoint! Nice and crispy on the outside (which I love!) and fluffy on the inside.  The only thing we would likely omit next time around is the coconut...the unsweetened coconut flakes that we can usually find are just too large and firm so it kind of messes up the texture you're looking for in a pancake.

One of our first meals this week was this Baked Salmon in Coconut Broth served with brown rice and thinly sliced carrots, red onion and bok choy.  In theory this sounded delicious, in reality it was a bit bland. So we had to really season up the broth with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Once we did that it was quite tasty and clearly a very healthy and wholesome meal.

Weekly Menu: March 3-9, 2013
Sunday: Halibut with Roasted Beets
Monday: Poached Egg with Rice & Edamame
Tuesday: Leftovers: Halibut with Roasted Beets  
Wednesday: Stuffed Acorn Squash
Thursday: Spinach Tofu & Brown Rice
Friday: Leftovers: Stuffed Acorn Squash
Saturday: Avocado and Black Bean Tacos
The final week of the Whole Living 2013 Cleanse that we've been doing for the past two weeks has arrived. The basic guidelines of this cleanse that we have been following are: no alcohol, no coffee (tea is okay), no dairy, no sugar, no gluten, no meat and no processed foods for all three meals every day. Now normally this is something SavoryGirl would want nothing to do with since I love food so much, but the beauty of this cleanse is that it has a 3-week menu plan for all three meals that so far have all been really clean, back to basics eating pulled together in completely delicious and satisfying recipes. So I honestly don't feel like I've been missing out on delicious eating at all!

This week we get to add back eggs and soy (organic, non-GMO) into our diets.  I've really been missing the first one...eggs are truly one of my favorite foods, particularly on weekend mornings. I have to say though, I'm not necessarily craving soy out of all of the things missing from my diet.  Don't get me wrong, I like soy-based foods, but not to the point that I miss them when I don't have them for a while. Cheese on the other hand...

My full consolidated shopping list for all three meals per day for this entire week is attached here.  Here you can find the breakfast recipes and lunch recipes.  As a reminder the shopping list is made for 2 people following this plan so if you only have one doing it in your household make sure to cut all of the ingredients in half.  I also didn't include any snacks on the shopping list, but the Cherry Date Oat Bars and the Toasted Coconut Trail Mix are both pretty yummy.  Happy, healthy eating!

Oh, and you can also read my Week 1 Debrief if you're just getting started to get a sense of how the first week went.  My Week 2 Debrief will be coming soon.
The 2013 Whole Living Detox – Week 1 Update

Week one of the three-week Whole Living Detox is behind us...no sugar, no coffee, no gluten, no processed foods, no dairy and no meat. Week one is the hardest and still, I have to say I'm feeling pretty great! Sleeping better than I have in years, waking up without an alarm every day at 6:30am...seriously, and I'm a big sleeper. I never wake up early on my own no matter how early I go to bed so this is a hugely noticeable difference and a pretty unexpected benefit. I will admit, however, that the first few days of  Week 1 weren't all easy. My energy levels were pretty low, I had more headaches than usual and the stomach was pretty turbulent for most of the week, but all of those early cleanse side effects have almost fully disappeared by now. And to top it all off, I've lost 4-5 pounds this week!  To be clear, I am not doing this to lose weight nor was I expecting to lose weight since this detox isn't calorie restricted at all and I'm working out less due to low energy, but it was certainly a nice surprise.

So, on to the important stuff...how has the food been? Honestly, completely delicious...not a dud recipe in the bunch. The one thing that was tough was having only smoothies for breakfast...left me pretty starving by lunchtime but I think that ends this week. But before we head off to Week 2 here's a run-down of some of our favorites from Week 1:
Weekly Menu: February 24 – March 2, 2013
Sunday: Baked Salmon with Coconut Broth
Monday: Black Bean-Brown Rice Patties
Tuesday: Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa
Wednesday: Leftovers: Broccoli Soup (from last week)
Thursday: Leftovers: French Lentil Salad (from last week)
Friday: Lemon-Herb Sardine Salad
Saturday: Sesame Kale Salad
Week two of our Whole Living Detox has arrived, and we're following the meal plan (breakfast, lunch and dinner) almost exactly as directed except for the two recipes below. I'm skipping the Baked Sweet Potato with Greens recipe (one breakfast and one lunch).  It sounds perfectly good, but I'm not really into it for breakfast and we have some leftovers from last week that we want to use up for lunch this week. I'm also skipping the Broccoli and Chickpea Salad (two dinners) and substituting them with two leftovers we froze from last week. This recipe is the first one from the plan that sounds a bit underwhelming to me and we ate a ton of broccoli last week. Other than that we're sticking to the week 2 menus and looking forward to trying out all of these new, healthy recipes.

If you haven't joined us on this journey yet it's not too late...but definitely start with Week 1 since each week builds on the previous one in this cleanse program. We had four SavoryGirl friends and followers decide to join us this week (yippee!) so they will be starting with week 1 while we move on to week 2....the more the merrier and make sure to share how it's going!

To make it even easier for you to take the leap and follow along I've attached the full (breakfast lunch & dinner using all of the recipes from the plan itself  - not my adjusted one above) week 2 shopping list below. There are two versions...the Consolidated Shopping List is ready to use if you have two people doing the Detox and plan to follow exactly as it is outlined from Whole Living. The Ingredient Level List is still for two people, but it has every single item from every recipe listed individually...so you can see where things are doubled and simply delete those duplicates for specific recipes if there is only one of you participating or you want to pick and choose certain recipes.    
Weekly Menu: February 10-16, 2013
Sunday: Emeril’s 5-Bean Chili with Cornbread
Monday: Grilled Fish Tacos
Tuesday: Leftovers: Chili
Wednesday: Red Wine & Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Winter Vegetables and Wild Rice
Thursday: Huevos Rancheros
Friday: Leftovers: Red Wine & Rosemary Chicken Pasta
Saturday: Eat Out
This is a week of easy favorites...starting with my newly discovered go-to chili recipe. It's easy, perfectly spiced and delicious. Monday we'll lighten things up with easy fish tacos served alongside some spicy black beans. Wednesday is a dish that I haven't made in years, but I remember really liking it when I originally made it.  It makes for a perfect quick weeknight meal as long as you marinate the chicken the night before. We'll shred up the leftover chicken and turn it into a pasta dish for Friday by stirring in some diced canned tomatoes and some mascarpone cheese to make a sauce.  Easy and quick!

Of course, you all know I love breakfast for dinner...and Huevos Rancheros is one of my all-time favorite dishes.  We'll use the leftover spicy black beans from Monday as the base on top of tortillas, fry up some eggs, top with a bit of cheese and hot sauce and you have a perfect, simple dinner.
Weekly Menu: February 3-9, 2013
Sunday: Superbowl DIY Pizza Party!
Monday: Sauteéd White Fish with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussels Sprouts
Tuesday: Leftovers: Fish Tacos with Spicy Brussels Sprouts
Wednesday:    Pork Phanang Curry (see below) and Brown Rice
Thursday: Spinach & Mushroom Omelets with Honey Toast
Friday: Leftovers: Pork Phanang Curry
Saturday: Eat Out
Let's be honest...we're not very excited about the Superbowl this year since our Pats aren't in it, but the Superbowl only comes once a year so we have to have at least a little bit of a foodie celebration. So what are we doing this year? We're making homemade and personally customizable pizzas. Now if my team was in it, I probably wouldn't do something that takes me away from the TV for this long, but as long as you prepare all of the toppings and make the dough in advance everyone should really be able to make their pizzas and get them out of the oven during half-time with no issue. Full details are in the post linked in the menu above. Remember to get creative with the toppings you offer...and seriously, hand crushed canned San Marzano tomatoes make the best sauce ever!

We'll then start the week off with one of our simple, healthy staples. Sauteéd white fish and roasted sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. Season the fish well with your spices of choice and just make sure your sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts are cut into similar sizes, seasoned well with olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted in a hot oven for about 25 minutes. Easy breezy.

The pork phanang curry sounds fancy, but honestly we've had a little jar of phanang curry paste in our cupboard forever so we're just going to use that mixed with some coconut milk for the sauce. Thrown in some sauteéd pork strips, some eggplant, yellow peppers and whatever else is looking good at your farmers market that weekend and you have yourself an easy and delicious weeknight meal. We'll finish off the week with omelets and our old college favorite of wheat toast slathered in butter and honey.  Happy cooking everyone!
Weekly Menu: January 27 – February 2, 2013
Sunday: Roasted Pear-Butternut Squash Soup with Stilton
Monday: Leftovers: Butternut Squash Soup
Tuesday: Suz at a work conference
Wednesday:   Suz at a work conference
Thursday: Suz at a work conference
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Easy Breakfast for Dinner
Life is a bit hectic this week...I'm off at a nearby hotel for a 3 day leadership training program and Christian is off for a week before starting his new job (congratulations babe!!!). The good news for him is that this means he gets to come stay at my swanky hotel with me and use the nice pool, gym and other resort amenities while I'm stuffed away in a conference room all day. Not a bad way to spend a transition week off! But this also means that there's not a whole lot of cooking going on in the SavoryGirl household. Sunday we're making one of our favorite winter soups with enough for leftovers and then Saturday we'll do an easy breakfast for dinner.

That being said, I don't want to leave you hanging so please feel free to check out my menu archives or recipes page to find some meals that work for your week ahead.