Friday, January 14, 2011

Curried Red Lentil Soup with Tomato and Coconut

If I haven’t said recently how much I appreciate all of you please know that I do. Your kind comments, emails, texts and phone calls have been extremely thoughtful and very helpful. I am feeling much better this morning. Our doctor appointment Wednesday morning was completely uneventful which is precisely what I needed. I feel as though one huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

The problem now is that my blue mood is coming and going. To try not to think about things I have been trying to keep myself busy so that I don’t have time to think. Thinking is how I get myself into trouble. Dan teases me that I can dark faster than anyone he knows and he is probably right. I have been doing a lot of nutrition reading, listening to instrumental jazz and sipping green and white tea while curled up in my favorite chair.

On the positive front I am now more up than down which feels like progress. My plan at the moment is to continue to stay as busy as possible and focus on the positives in my life. I will keep you informed how this works for me. Wish me luck; I think I still need it. ;-)

Yesterday I decided to get my schedule under control. To do this I starting tracking how I am currently spending my time. This is something I used to do at work for cost accounting purposes or time and motions studies but never tried it at home. I plan to keep track of my time for a week so I can create a realistic plan for myself to make certain that I get everything done. Something tells me I am going to be surprised how I spend my time. At the very least it will be eye opening.

I am also trying to increase my water intake which some days is zero, shameful I know. When you drink as much green and white tea as I do water seems to get left behind. As you may have guessed I am also tracking my water consumption. This may turn into a food journal but I haven’t done one of those in years because all the measuring is annoying. ;-)

Here is what we have been up to since I last talked to you:


Here is a picture I took as we were leaving the house Wednesday morning. We got just enough snow to leave a beautiful light blanket of white snow but not enough to cause any real traffic problems. There is something so pretty about a light coating of snow.

Since we had to leave the house early for the appointment it meant skipping the gym. I am one of those ladies that take a while to get ready. I hate blow drying my hair and it takes hours to dry by itself because of the length. This all meant no gym and while I wasn’t happy about it that is just the way it had to be this morning.

For breakfast we had our usual green smoothies: kale, frozen banana, cinnamon, powdered ginger, freshly ground flaxseeds, walnuts and water. The big news this morning …. No stevia in Dan’s smoothie. I have been making mine without stevia but not Dan’s. I had him try his smoothie without stevia this morning and he was good with it. Mind you he did say it is better with stevia but thought it was fine without it too. I imagine you are wondering why I am trying to reduce our stevia use right?

From what I have read thus far stevia is safe but I am trying to reduce our use of anything processed. Also given how the digestion system works it would make sense that the taste of sweet may be enough to get the digestion system to start releasing hormones and enzymes. I read something that an MD wrote about this possibly being why consuming diet soda isn’t linked to weight loss. If diet soda may raise insulin I thought stevia may be similar. I will continue to use stevia where it is necessary but want to get our overall intake down.

After the appointment we stopped at Costco since the car needed gas. While Dan got gas I ran through the store to pick up produce, walnuts, and a few exercise DVDs. How is that we are always short on fresh veggies? I swear our refrigerators always look like a family of rabbits live here. LOL

Once we got home I made us a quick salad of: mesclun, salsa, grape tomatoes, red bell pepper, cucumber, and raw pumpkin seeds.

To go with that there was a quick bowl of soup. I combined a canned of Amy’s lentil soup, with 1 pint (2 cups) of diced canned tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, ¼ teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, ¼ teaspoon ginger and a generous grinding of black pepper (to increase the bioavailability of the curcumin in the turmeric).

Once Dan left for work I changed clothes put away the non-perishable groceries and did my strength training. The TRX is working out quite nicely for me so far. Dan is planning to workout before he leaves his office tonight. He has been hitting the gym at work with one of the young guys (20 somethings) on days when we don’t make it to the gym in the morning. I am so proud of him for making a commitment to exercise regularly since he doesn’t actually enjoy exercise. As Dan always says he prefers being a couch potato but knows that exercise is better for him. Exercise is great at reducing your blood sugar if that is a problem for you. Even for us, who have normal fasting blood glucose numbers, we can see a drop as the result of exercise.

My mid-day snack was my usual orange and 2 Brazil nuts.

I wanted to share a cooking problem from Tuesday night before I forget. I tried to make a fast pot of split pea soup but that didn’t work out. Even though I knew that acid can interfere with the ability of beans to soften I thought that 2 cups of tomatoes to 10 cups of liquid wouldn’t be a problem. Wrong! I cooked the beans for almost 2 hours and the exterior remained crunchy. This was an epic fail, LOL, but humbling. It actually made me laugh since I knew better but did it anyway. I wanted to tell you about it before I forgot so that you don’t make the same mistake.

I had some things that I wanted to get finished while Dan was at work so I made a big pot of soup for us to eat for a few days starting with dinner Wednesday night. To make the soup a little different I added the ½ can reduced fat coconut soup that I had frozen last week (or the week before now I don’t remember when it was). I always pour the extra coconut milk into a mason jar large enough to leave at least a one inch air space and freeze the milk. It will stay fresh in a freezer a month that way. It may be good for longer than that but I have typically used it before it has been stored much longer than that. Here is the soup I made for dinner on Wednesday:

Curried Red Lentil and Coconut Soup
Serves 8


1 pound dried red lentils, picked through and rinsed
½ cup barley
1 large red or yellow onion, peeled and finely diced (the onion was approx the size of a grapefruit and was about 4 cups)
8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
½ tablespoon of freshly minced/grated ginger
10 cups water
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons coriander seed
4 teaspoons black mustard seed
freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I used about a teaspoon)
½ - 14 ounce can reduced fat coconut milk (this is the what I had frozen from the last time I used coconut milk)
2 quarts (or 4-15 ounce cans) canned diced tomatoes preferably no or low salt
1 lime zested and juiced


Combine the beans, water, aromatics and spices and cook until the beans are soft. Stir occasionally to keep the soup from sticking to the bottom of the pot. You may also have to add water depending on how much evaporates during cooking. I tend to cook soups mostly covered. I do this by placing a wooden spoon on the edge of the pot and then putting the lid on. This closes the lid, mostly but still allows some evaporation.

Once the beans are tender (in about 20 minutes) add the remaining ingredients (but not the lime). When you are ready to serve add the lime zest and lime juice and stir it into the soup.

Nutritional Information (assumes no salt tomatoes):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 311.22
Calories From Fat (12%) - 36.96

Total Fat - 4.13g
Saturated Fat - 1.61g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 25.7mg
Potassium - 803.11mg
Total Carbohydrates - 54.35g
Fiber - 11.26g
Sugar - 4.36g
Protein - 17.93g


This was a simple soup with a subtle Indian flavor. I also liked that it was filling and simple to prepare. That is one of the great things about soup it practically cooks itself.

After dinner Dan thought he “needed” calories so you all know what that means. Of course he had two bowls of strawberry banana soft serve. My hubby loves cold creamy desserts and always has. In the bad old days he used to eat ice cream from serving bowls and would sometimes go back for seconds. He has been a dessert boy for as long as I can remember.


The weather has turned extremely cold again. It was a balmy 19 degrees this morning (heavy sarcasm). Brrrr! Have I said recently that I am not a huge fan of the cold? Seriously we need to move south for the winter. The older I get the more I understand the “snow birds” that move south for the winter. I used to laugh at those old folks and I am slowly turning into one of them. LOL

Breakfast was a simple bowl to oatmeal made with: ½ cup oats, 1 cup water, ¾ cup wild frozen blueberries, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, and 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed. I would have added a tablespoon or two of chopped walnuts to the oats but they were all in my overflow pantry and I didn’t feel like hiking the stairs to get them. I am not kidding when I say that I am not a morning person. ;-)

While I was relaxing with a little jazz and some hot tea I decided to pressure cook some garbanzo beans. Like I promised this time I made them without oil and they were fine. To one pound of beans, I added 9 cups of water, 2 bay leaves, 6 cloves of garlic and cooked them under high pressure for 32 minutes and let the pressure release naturally. They were soft but not mushy if that makes sense. Overall my no oil pressure cooked bean test went off without a hitch. Thanks again for tipping me off that it would work.

I also made a batch of macadamia nut cheese and sun dried tomato spread on Thursday. I will include those recipes in my next post.

Lunch was a simple bowl of leftover curried red lentil soup.

To accompany the soup I had a navel orange cut into 8 wedges and two Brazil nuts. For those of you that don’t like to peel oranges cut those into wedges makes them much quicker and easier to eat.

Not knowing when Dan was going to get home from work I made myself a fairly big salad as a late afternoon snack. I was craving fresh veggies so my salad included: mesclun, salsa, chickpeas, marinated mushrooms, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, and raw pumpkin seeds.

Dan went to the dentist today to have two old fillings removed and replaced. He came home saying that this hurt worse than the wisdom tooth removal. Apparently his mouth was sore from being held open with instruments while they worked on two back teeth. He was doing much better Friday morning though.

Dan ended up coming home from work and relaxing instead of working. Sometimes you just need to relax and listen to jazz. We are both big fans of instrumental jazz which you probably guessed after we went to see the Rippingtons. ;-)

Dinner for us was salad. This time I made myself a salad with fruit and nut. My salad last night contained: mesclun, tangerine, grapes, strawberries and sliced almonds. Since the fruit was so juicy I didn’t add any dressing and the salad was still great.

After dinner Dan had two bowls of his favorite strawberry banana soft serve.

As usual after dinner there was more jazz and I got back to reading the nutritional textbook I started about a week ago.

Happy thoughts:

I have to say I don’t actually feel like writing this section at the moment. However I also assume that is because I really need to if you know what I mean. Here are my happy thoughts today:

• I am most happy that the dark cloud seems to be lifting. Apparently it just took a while for the latest cancer to sink in for me. I suppose the worse part for me is that it is the same type of cancer so it felt even close to home and caused me to personalize things.

• We had a pretty little snow fall this week that made the neighborhood look a little like a story book. Too bad I didn’t have my camera with me (or time to stop and use it) since it would have made beautiful pictures for Christmas cards. If we get another snow fall this year I will take my camera out so that I can memorialize it.

• Thursday night we had a gorgeous cloudless sunset. The sky went from orange, to yellow to light blue to dark blue. The colors were surreal in their gradation. I took the time to enjoy the colors while sipping tea. Massimo also enjoyed the sunset from my shoulders. ;-) I am always “wearing” cats.

• I am happy to have the time to do things I enjoy like read nutrition textbooks. The latest book I have been reading has been an excellent read. As soon as I am finished the book I will review it for you.

• I am very thankful to now be craving healthy food. Who does that? When I crave things like salad I know that means that my body has gotten accustomed to eating a high nutrient diet and it makes me feel good about my progress.

• Since today is Friday I am reminded how fortunate I am to have the time to look after the people I care about (my parents and my husband). I am certain I couldn’t do the things that I do if I were still working the crazy hours that I used to.

• I am very thankful for all your wonderful comments, emails, texts, direct messages and words. You guys are the best and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Thank you very much for trying to help my mood. Sometimes I just need to ride it out and I appreciate your understanding.

Signing out:

Today is Friday which means I have my usual errands. I need to check on my folks, do a little light cleaning at their house. If my folks need anything from the grocery store I need to take care of that as well. Then I want to get back into my nutrition textbook which I hope to finish reading in the next week.

My plan is to get back to my daily posting schedule. This weekend is up in the air but I am sure it will be good provided Dan doesn’t need to go into the office.

I will talk to you again tomorrow. Have a great weekend and stay warm!


  1. Oh my GOSH Your blog is so beautiful! I LOVE how you explain your feelings and theories behind your food motivation. I LOVE IT. I can't wait to make this lentil soup. Question: how much is a serving?

    Thank you so much for your blog
    xo Jenn

  2. I'm glad you're feeling a bit better. Take care of yourself.

  3. Jenn,

    Thanks, I am glad you like the blog and I appreciate you letting me know. :-)

    The program I use to determine the nutrition divides the total recipe by the number of servings. So in this case it would be 1/8th of the total recipe. I don't try to estimate quantities since evaporation and/or how much water you add would change the amount considerably. That being said I would expect a serving to be in the ballpark of 20 ounces (or 2 1/2 cups) again this could be different for you depending on evaporation. I hope that makes sense.


  4. Jackie,

    This dark mood lasted much longer than most of them do. I think I was caught in a vicious cycle if that makes sense. Today has been much better so far. *fingers crossed*

    I hope you have a great weekend,

  5. Glad the darkness is lifting. Good news!

    I think you could grow Stevia as a potted herb; dry and crush the leaves and end up with a less processed sweetener than the Stevia you can purchase. I bought seeds one year but then neglected to grow them.

    Hmmm... what happened to those seeds anyway? lol

    Take care!

  6. I'm glad to see the cloud is lifting. It's so difficult to get back to normal when things have changed - but it's necessary. Also glad to see your happy thoughts return.

    Your red lentil soup looks really good. I am always looking for new soup recipes, and lentils are so quick they are becoming a favorite.

    Take care and have a good weekend.

  7. Aisling,

    I am happy to be returning to my usual self. :-)

    Stevia is fairly easily to grow. I had it in my herb garden one year. If I can grow it anyone can. ;-) I remember it was a small (about 12") plant that bushed out a bit like basil. It didn't come back so I assume it is an annual.

    enjoy your weekend,

  8. Jessica,

    This is the longest I have been bummed out in a while. I think I took our friends diagnosis and personalized it.

    I love red lentils for the same reason. Anything that cooks quickly is high on my list of things to use often. I agree with you soup is great and it is perfect soup weather. Something tells me you are probably having soup weather in Ohio now too. ;-)

    enjoy your weekend,

  9. another quick question: in your green smoothies, are you using raw kale?


    I'm gettin the ingredients for the lentil soup, green smoothie, and staw/banana soft serve. Wish me luck, our blender kind of sucks :-)

  10. Jenn,

    Yes the kale is raw since it is most nutritious when raw or lightly cooked. Since your blender isn't a Vitamix add the walnuts and water first and blend. Then shred the kale add add that. Then the frozen banana.

    For the strawberry banana soft serve you can try making that in your food processor if you are worried about the power of your blender. Also I have made banana softserve in my juicer with the blank plate in if you have a masticating juicer.

    Good luck with your experiments.


  11. Alicia, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend (I am really behind in blog reading and just read your other post about feeling down). Glad to hear that the cloud is lifting. I love your Happy Thoughts section and your attitude about things. Sending good thoughts your way and hoping things all work out for the best!

    Your soup looks wonderful. :)

  12. Ali, I'm so glad you wrote the happy thoughts part even though you didn't want to...that's exactly when you HAVE TO write it. I started a journal, 2011 Great Things, and I'm writing down happy things that happen to me every day. I have a feeling that even on bad days, I'll have something to write. :)


  13. Ricki,

    Thanks our friend's diagnosis threw me for a loop. Sometimes it seems like there is nothing I can do to get away from cancer. It took me a little while but I seem to have things processed, if that makes sense.

    I am glad you like the happy thoughts section. I started that to remind myself that there are always things to be happy about when I look for them. Otherwise it can be too easy to focus on what is wrong.

    Thank you for your kind words. I hope you have a good weekend!


  14. LJ,

    That is a great idea for a journal. You are right when you don't want to write them that is exactly when they are most important. ;-)


  15. thats what im trying to do too, we were talking about it a bit in emails, about not letting yourself get totally mired down in our own bad/sad thoughts! good for you. i jsutmade a lentil soup but i used the drk ones, those still taste like dirt to me. dirt with onions then liquid smoke then soy suce than TONS of garlic and onion powder then stevia...still dirt

  16. Michelle,

    It is so easy to get lost in the bad stuff and spiral down. Sadly, been there done that.

    LOL, I could not stop laughing at your comment. I read it Dan who said, "use red lentils". He isn't too crazy about the dark ones which he decribes as "tasting closer to nature" aka dirt. Thanks for the giggle this evening. You always make me laugh.


  17. I knew you would break out of the fog!
    Nice blog post.

  18. Yay, you're back! I'm glad that Dan had an uneventful doctor visit and that you've been having some nice quiet time at home with your cats, jazz and nutrition book. Previously you mentioned listening on Pandora, do you do that through a Blu-ray machine? I'm trying to learn more about such options.

    Your salads often contain mesclun--do you get that at Costco? Is it more nutritious than other salad greens?

  19. Good Morning Brandi,

    I am still not 100% but I am much better than I was. ;-)

    Thanks and I will talk to you later,

  20. Laura,

    I really needed an uneventful doc appointment after the news about our friend last week.

    I will try to get Dan to explain how everything works with Pandora on the TV so I can explain it to you. I know we have the option on both our TV and DVD player and that they both have wireless connections to the internet. This was one of Dan's new toys that he bought in the summer last year. As you can tell I am not the tech person at our house. LOL

    I do buy the mesclun (or spring mix) at Costco. I try to buy organic lettuce since that is a highly sprayed crop. Additionally dark greens are more nutritious so it is a two-fer.


  21. Glad to hear you are starting to feel better :)

  22. Possum,

    Thanks! I am very happy to be returning to my old self too. :-)



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