Lisa: Make a Home Cooked Meal

My family has never been particularly fond of eating in restaurants. This was a pattern set early because Amy has a life-threatening peanut allergy. Twenty years ago when she was born, the awareness of allergies was very limited so it was safer to just eat at home. As it turns out, there was an unanticipated positive effect of this. Cooking at home has been shown to be much healthier. You know all of the ingredients and how fresh they are, you can control the amount of sodium and fat and the portion sizes. Additionally, you can avoid a lot of temptation (like the dessert menu), save a lot of money and have some great family or friend time while eating at home.

Restaurants are now being blamed for contributing to North America’s obesity epidemic. Recently Michelle Obama has called to task restaurants like Red Lobster and Olive Garden, urging them to offer healthier choices on their menus. Jamie Oliver has started his Food Revolution to encourage people to avoid processed foods, develop their cooking skills and eat healthy meals at home. You can find more about his project and sign a petition here:

Since it felt like fall today, I made one of my favorite soups from Jamie’s Food Revolution cookbook for dinner. It is quick, delicious, and nutritious of course.

Lentil and Spinach Soup

2 each of: celery stalks, carrots, medium onions, cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

48 ounces vegetable broth

olive oil

thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped

3 dried chilies, chopped (or dash cayenne or 1/2 t. sambal oelek)

10 grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped (or 15 ounce tin diced tomatoes)

2 cups red lentils

7 cups spinach

salt and pepper

Add 2T. olive oil to a large pot. Add celery, carrots, onions and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes. Add ginger, chili, tomatoes, lentils and broth. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes with the lid on. Add spinach and cook for 30 seconds more. Season with salt and pepper. Soup can be served as is, or can be blended until smooth. Serves 6-8.