March 7, 2012

Healthy Meal: Spinach Dal

This week, I’m working from home – which has changed a lot about my lifestyle. Relevant to this story, it’s that I’m working independently and have access to a kitchen – which means I can eat lunch whenever I want to (instead of when my coworkers get hungry), and I can cook lunch in the kitchen. Bliss!

Today I was craving Indian for lunch. I keep a few Tasty Bite meals on hand at all times (usually for Thursday nights when I get home at 11pm after a flight and am starving but don’t want to cook), and I initially reached in my cupboard for one of those. But just as I worked up my appetite for Spinach Dal, I nixed the idea. I had time and all the ingredients – I ought to cook it myself!

I used the ingredients on the back of the Tasty Bite bag as my guide, but otherwise didn’t follow a recipe (which makes me proud that I’m an experienced enough cook to know how to make stuff without following a specific recipee). After chowing down, I was SHOCKED with how healthy my version ended up being compared to the original – especially considering how healthy the packaged version already is. Plus, mine wasn’t hard to make at all! Check it out:

Spinach Dal
Inspired by Tasty Bite, Recipe by Laura
Makes two servings

1. Roughly chop 1/2 large onion. That is all the prep work you will have to do – woo!
2. Heat a medium-sized saucepan and spray it with some olive oil (I use my Misto for this) so food won’t stick to the bottom. Add 2 tsp minced garlic and the onions, and saute until the onions start to turn golden (or until they start sticking to the pot and you don’t want them to burn).
3. Add 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp turmeric, and a dash of cinnamon.
4. Add 2 cups of frozen spinach. (If you use fresh spinach, double this, because frozen spinach is already wilted).
5. Add 1 tbsp ketchup, 1/4 cup dry red lentils, and a cup of water. Stir and cover. (You can also obviously use fresh tomatoes, which I was out of; if you do this, add a bit of honey since you’re losing the sugar in the ketchup).
6. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the water is mostly incorporated into the dish. Adjust seasonings and serve!

I know it’s not super pretty, but no spinach dal really looks beautiful…

Now… ready for the nutrition stats? This stuff is ridiculously low in calories – even though it’s a meal-sized portion, it’s a snack-sized amount of calories. According to the recipe analyzer I used, it ranked a nutrition grade of “A”:
-Very low in saturated fat
-No cholesterol
-Very high in dietary fiber
-High in iron
-Very high in manganese
-High in magnesium
-High in phosphorus
-High in potassium
-High in thiamin
-Very high in vitamin A
-High in vitamin B6
-Very high in vitamin C

The nutrition stats were really just a bonus, though – I was looking for yummy flavor, and I got it. I now absolutely love this (in case you couldn’t tell by the fact that I revived the many years old “healthy meal” section of my blog just so that I could blog about it). It’s quick, it’s easy, and it comes out really rich and delicious. Hooray for healthy Indian food!


5 thoughts on “Healthy Meal: Spinach Dal”

  1. I loved your tip about using fresh spinach. I make a recipe with frozen spinach, and I always wondered how I’d need to adjust it if I used fresh spinach.

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