Yellow split pea dhal with tomatoes & apples

Yellow split pea dhal with tomatoes & apples

This is gorgeous.  The tomatoes and apples perfectly balance the earthy flavour of yellow split peas.  Like all beans and pulses this is more digestible and cooks faster if you soak the split peas overnight in clean cold water to about twice their depth in a saucepan or bowl.    This is even better the next day and freezes really well.

For 2 people with 1 serving of leftovers
160g/1 mug dried yellow split peas
1/2 level tsp ground turmeric to add to the cooking water
1 tbs ghee or virgin coconut oil
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 gently rounded tsp garam masala (available in Asian stores)
1/2 level tsp ground red chilli
1/2 level tsp ground turmeric
400g chopped tomatoes, ideally fresh but canned will do
160g cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1cm pieces

2 tbs chopped fresh coriander

1. If using dried split peas: Place the peas with 800ml clean water and the 1/2 tsp turmeric in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat.  Skim off any foam.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 25 minutes until tender.
If using soaked split peas: discard the soak water, place the peas and the half teaspoon turmeric in a saucepan with enough clean water to cover by about 2cm.  Boil for a few minutes, skimming off any foam before turning down the heat to medium, cover and cook till tender for between 15 and 20 minutes.  SOAKED SPLIT PEAS ARE BETTER IF YOU HAVE A SENSITIVE GUT.
2. Meanwhile heat the ghee or coconut oil in a heavy-based pan on a medium heat, add 1 dsp water along with the onions and cover with a lid.  Sweat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.  If its drying out too much before the onions are done, add a little more water to keep it steam-frying rather than browning or burning.
3. Stir in the rounded tsp of garam masala, 1/2 tsp of chilli and 1/2 tsp turmeric.  Cook for a minutes, stirring and then add the tomatoes and the apple.
4. cook for about 25 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed, the apples are soft and the tomatoes have broken down.
5. Add the cooked split peas and simmer for a few minutes.
6. Garnish with the chopped coriander.

Serve with:
Steamed greens (e.g. broccoli, green/runner beans, cabbage, sprouts, pak choi)  plus one of the following:
Cauliflower rice
Indian spiced squash
Not for SC diet: Brown rice or quinoa

Why this is good for you
This has a range of  fibres that feed different categories of good gut bacteria, all of which you need to remain well.  Pectin from the cooking apples, inulin from the onions, soluble fibre from the split peas all feed good bacteria.  Cumin and garam masala have a suppressing effect on “bad”, pro-inflammatory bacteria in your gut.  I always recommend a wide variety of plant types and herbs and spices to people who want to optimise their health and get digestive, bowel or autoimmune issues into remission.  And guess what – stewed cooking apple in this recipe helps lower bowel inflammation too.

Ikarian butter bean and tomato bake

Ikarian butter bean and tomato bake

This is delicious hot, lukewarm or cold.  I also like to mix leftovers with cooked quinoa to take to work.   People living on the Greek island of Ikaria have the secret of healthy longevity.  This is one of their recipes, which I found in the Irish Times recently.  We can’t get giant white beans here but butter beans work really well.  I wasn’t sure it would turn out well, but it was delicious – very intense flavours.  It contains a lot of liquid.  So make sure to use a large dish, otherwise it can boil over in the oven (like it did on me).  Slicing the carrots very thinly is a bit of a fiddly chore unless you use a mandolin or a food processor.  If you can’t face it or don’t own a decent knife: slice about 1/2 cm thick, steam for a few minutes to soften (keeping the water to make the veg stock with so you don’t lose flavour or nutrients).  If you put thick sliced raw carrots into the dish they will still be raw when everything else is starting to burn!  Yummy though.  This also works well as a side dish with, say, roast lamb.

For 4:

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 x 640g jar of passata (sieved tomatoes)
2 x 400g tins butter beans, drained (or soak 400g or 2 cups dried beans overnight and boil till tender)
3 onions, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
2 large beef (or 4 regular) tomatoes, sliced
A good handful of fresh oregano (if you can’t get it, use 1 dsp dried)
A few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
300ml vegetable stock
Sea salt and ground black pepper

  1. Preheat an oven to 220 degrees (205C fan).
  2. Add the onions and garlic to a bowl with four tablespoons of olive oil. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Massage the onions until they begin to soften down.
  3. Arrange the butter beans in the base of a large earthenware or baking dish. Place carrots on top.
  4. Pour over the passata and spread evenly. Arrange the onion mixture across the top, then the tomato slices and press the herbs on top.
  5. Pour over the vegetable stock, drizzle on the remaining oil and season. Bake on the middle shelf for 40 minutes or until the point of a knife or cooking skewer goes through the carrots easily.

Serve warm, lukewarm or cool with a green salad on the side.  You can use leftovers as an accompaniment to grilled or baked white fish.  Or (provided you’re not on SC Diet) stir into cooked quinoa to make a quick lunch (or packed lunch).

Why this is good for you:
Butter beans, onions and garlic give you soluble fibre which feeds good gut bacteria needed to help you get rid of toxins, have happier mood (yes, gut bacteria make the feel-good brain chemical serotonin!) and a healthier immune system.  A healthy immune system is one that doesn’t over react causing autoimmunity (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism).  Nor does it under react causing lowered resistence to viral, bacterial or fungal infections.  Lycopene in tomatoes is fantastic for supporting vision and so are carrots with their various carotenoids.  Lycopene and carotenoids are antioxidants – they protect you from damage. 

White bean, tapenade & aubergine salad

White bean, tapenade & aubergine salad

This is a lovely, earthy and filling summer main course, perfect with a large green salad and maybe something stodgey like a baked sweet potato or some squash wedges.  Best eaten warm or at room temperature, rather than straight from the fridge.

For 2:

400g cooked, drained white haricot, cannellini or butter beans – rinsed and drained from a tin, or home-cooked (200g raw weight will give you 400g after overnight soaking and cooking)
1 medium aubergine, cut in 1cm slices and grilled till golden (about 5 minutes each side, I find)
1 dsp chopped red onion (use
1 dsp black olive tapenade from a jar
Large pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp chopped parsley, chives or basil (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle

1. In a medium bowl mix the onion, tapenade, chopped herbs and cayenne with a small drizzle of olive oil.
2. Cut the aubergine into bite size pieces and add, with the white beans, to the tapenade mix.
3. Mix well and serve.

Tip: Buy parsley fresh, chop and store in a box or bag in the freezer.  That way it’s instantly available all the time.

Why this is good for you:
Olives and olive oil are rich in vitamin E which helps moisturise your skin from within and also aids weight management.  Yes, adding extra virgin olive oil to your diet has been proven to aid weight loss!  Red onion is rich in quercitin, which helps alleviate allergies.  White beans are rich in protein at around 8%, and soluble fibre, all of this keeps you fuller longer.  Soluble fibre also feeds beneficial bacteria which you need for your digestive wellness, mental health and perfect skin.  White haricot beans are a fantastic source of molybdenum, which can help support liver function.  Poor skin, low energy, or who has chemical sensitivities can be signs that your liver is under pressure, struggling to meet the detoxification demands of your everyday life and might need more nutrients.   Fresh or frozen parsley helps your kidneys to flush out toxins.  It’s also rich in iron.

Puy lentil salad

Puy lentil salad

Now the weather is lovely, my thoughts turn to all those things I can make in advance to graze on over the weekend, or for weekday lunchboxes.  The colours of the lemon zest, herbs, carrots and red peppers stand out like jewels against the earthy tones of the lentils.  This makes a great main course alongside a large mixed salad and maybe sometimes starchy, like a steamed sliced sweet potato, or some quinoa anointed with pesto.  You could also use this as a starter, or instead of potatoes/rice with some grilled/roast white fish or chicken.   Good when trying to feed vegetarians and carnivores a the same meal!

For a quick weekday version of this classic French salad: Just cook the lentils and carrot with a bay leaf, drain and add a generous splash of balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil and lots of black pepper.  Good with large multicoloured mixed salad.

Serves 3 as a main course salad, 6 as a starter

200g/1 mugful Puy lentils
1 medium/large carrot, peeled and diced into 1/8”/0.5cm squares
½ a red (or white) onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic
Lemon vinaigrette (see below) or a splash of balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and lots of black pepper.
If you eat dairy: 50g goat/sheep feta, crumbled (optional)
2 teaspoons mint, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped parsley or coriander
Black pepper to taste
2 medium red peppers (optional i.e. if you are feeling fancy!)

1. Rinse the lentils, cover them generously with clean water and bring them to a boil with the garlic, carrot, onion and bay leaf.
2. Simmer until they are cooked (15-20 ins) but still hold their shape.
3. Drain the lentil mixture and save the liquid for making soups or gravies.
4. While the lentils are cooking prepare the red peppers (if using) by grilling under a hot grill until the skins are charred, then put them in a covered bowl to steam for 10 mins or so, then take off the charred skins with a knife.  Do not rinse them under water or the sweet juices will be lost.  Slit them open, remove the seeds, and cut into strips or squares.
5. While the lentils are still hot add the feta, vinaigrette, herbs and the red peppers and their juice, if they are ready.

For the Lemon vinaigrette:
Juice and peel of one lemon (ideally organic, or scrubbed very well)
1/2 level tsp paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ level teaspoon Himalayan or Atlantic sea salt (optional)
6-8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Remove two wide strips of peel from the lemon with a veg peeler and slice them into narrow slivers.
2. Mix all the ingredients well in a bowl or put in a screw top jar and shake well.

Why this is good for you:
Lentils are a great source of soluble fibre which feeds good bacteria to help your skin, digestion, mood and immunity.   Lentils are a good source of protein instead of meat or fish at a meal so will keep you full for ages.  Herbs and spices are antioxidant and help delay the visible signs of ageing (wrinkles, saggy skin, anyone?).  Red peppers and carrots are a good source of beta carotene, which helps give your skin a golden glow, even without the aid of the sun, according to British study of university students.   Another bonus of this salad is the raw extra virgin olive oil, which gives vitamin E to make your skin (and all your parts!) smooth and moisturised from within.