A hearty and healthy red lentil dal that simmers away in your slow cooker and is ready when you walk through the door. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
Can we talk about baby kicks?
They’re crazy. I love them, but they’re crazy. It’s interesting how they’ve evolved from the first little signs of movement, little scratches and pops, to sturdier, more insistent thumps, and now to the unmistakable sensation of something, someone, moving their limbs around inside of me.
I expected the bumps and thumps and ever stronger thwacks against my ribs, but I did not expect to be startled awake by a foot or a shoulder or whatever it is running down my side. I mean, sometimes it scares the bejeezus out of me when I’m not expecting it and I’m like, “wtf is touching me?!” and then I realize that it’s the tiny human inside of me doing another flip turn off the wall of my uterus as it does it’s daily callisthenics.
Another thing I did not expect is the dramatic shifts in appetite. I was ravenously hungry for the entire second trimester, shoving food into my face like an 18 year old boy. I had to constantly arm myself with snacks, and my colleagues were accustomed to me turning up to any meeting with a plate full of food. But the second I rounded the corner into the third trimester (<– holy crap! less than 11 weeks to go!) I wasn’t hungry anymore.
Part of it, I know, is that the baby is taking up much more space in my abdominal cavity and so my stomach capacity is reduced. But I’ve spoken to many pregnant women who were still hungry in that state, and had to eat frequent, smaller meals. Me, I’m just not hungry. But, I figure I packed in enough calories in the second trimester (waaaaay over the allotted 300 extra calories per day) to have a decent reserve, and my body will tell me when it’s time to pick up the eating again.
Because of my diminished appetite (and also acid reflux –> pregnancy is glamorous, ain’t it?) I’ve been reaching for gentler to eat and easily digested foods like soups and stews, and aiming for a good mix of protein and complex carbs. I’m also going through a period of bonkersness at work that will keep going until we get three insanely huge (but also awesomely fun) projects out the door the week before Christmas. So I’m leaning heavily on my dear husband for weekday meal prep, my freezer for things I’ve had the foresight to stash away, and my slow cooker, which I love dearly.
This Red Lentil Dal ticks all the boxes. It’s hearty and nourishing, but easy to eat. It contains easy to find ingredients, with a few more exotic options should your heart desire that kind of thing. And best of all, it’s ready when you walk in the door at the end of a long day. Bliss.
Let’s talk about lentils! These lovely little legumes are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering dietary fiber. The soluble fiber in lentils helps to keep blood sugar stable, while providing a steady source of energy. But the energy benefits don’t stop there, lentils are a rich source of iron, as well as being a good source of plant-based protein, which is good news for us veg heads. They’re also a great source of heart-healthy folate and magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, zinc, potassium, and B6.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
slow cooker red lentil dal
- 1 1/2 cups red lentils
- 1 1/2 cups split mug beans or yellow split peas, or just use all red lentils
- 6 cups vegetable broth or water
- 2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 Tbsp ground turmeric
- 3 green cardamom pods crushed / split open
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, mustard, fennel, and fenugreek seeds to the pan. Shake or stir the seeds frequently. When they smell fragrant, remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Place red lentils and split mung beans into a fine mesh strainer, and rinse well until the water runs clear.
- Place the lentils and split mung beans in a slow cooker and add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes (and their juices!), onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cardamom pods, bay leaf, toasted seeds, salt and black pepper.
- Stir well to combine all ingredients.
- Place lid on slow cooker and let cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours.
- Remove lid after cooking time and stir. If the lentils are not fully cooked, replace the lid and cook for another 30-60 minutes, if needed.
- Serve the dal over hot brown rice or quinoa, or serve with a bit of bread to sop it up. I like to add red pepper flakes, a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, and some fresh cilantro leaves.
I have a pretty small slow cooker (it has a 3.5L capacity) and this recipe goes right up to the very top and did boil over a teeny bit. If your slow cooker is also on the small side or is looking realllly full as you add the ingredients, you can reserve 1-2 cups of water for the end of the cooking time. Simply stir it in and cook on high for an additional 30 minutes. Or you can reduce the recipe by 1/2 or 1/3, which might be smarter, but I like getting a big batch to stash away in the freezer so I usually go for the full recipe.
Recipe adapted, just barely, from Cafe Johnsonia