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Seratonin is a wonderful thing. It is not an ingredient in a recipe, as you might expect on a post about menu planning. It is well said at Princeton.edu here:
Serotonin (pronounced /ˌsɛrəˈtoʊnɨn/) or 5-Hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived fromtryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, platelets, and in the central nervous system (CNS) of humans and animals. It is a well-known contributor to feelings of well-being; therefore it is also known as a happiness hormone.
There is some debate about whether lentils, a complex carbohydrate, really do help increase serotonin levels, I thought I would give it a try this week to see if it makes a difference in some attitudes around the house. There are worse (and less legal) mood altering experiments to do, right? 🙂
Add in that:
- I just bought several pounds of dry lentils on sale
- I am looking for new recipes to try
- I was hoping to find more meatless meals
- We like lentils
And here we are at the unofficial Lentil Week. Not to be confused with Lent, of course, which does not happen for a few more months.
The 7 new recipes I hope to try range from side dishes to soups to even cookies. Each day, except Sunday, there is a meal or dish containing lentils.
Last week’s menu contained three new recipes, one of which was unplanned, two of which we liked. Mum’s Everyday Lentils was not a favorite of mine and probably will not be a repeat. It was not bad, just not great. We loved the Lebanese Meat-stuffed Pitas, though we ate it pita-less. This is where the unplanned new recipe came in. With no pitas I needed something as a side. In the cabinet I found a bag of Quinoa and thought to make salad from it. Thankfully on the back was a recipe to do so. Adjusting the recipe (see below) for what we had on hand, and what I needed it for, we came out with a fabulous meal that will definitely be repeated.
If you notice the crepes in the picture above were filled with something out of the ordinary for us. Thinking we had no nutella in the house, I grabbed and open tub of Almond Joy icing and used that on half the crepes. The light coconut flavor was a nice change. And sometimes, it is just fun to do something ‘unhealthy’ for a meal. Of course, we added fruit to help balance it out. 🙂
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1 c quinoa
1 small onion chopped
1/4 c feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 c parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 c lemon juice
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 c, or a bit less, olive oil
In a medium sauce pan, bring the chicken broth and garlic to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to med-low, cover, and simmer till the quinoa has absorbed all the chicken broth and is soft, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to bowl and stir in remaining ingredients, drizzling with the vinegar and oil. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes about 5 servings.
The original recipe called for bell peppers, olives, chicken and chives. I did not have time to add the peppers, did not need the chicken, did not have the chives and most of my household does not like olives. By knowing these things, I was able to take a recipe that we would not have liked and adjust it into something we loved. If I had attempted this several years ago it would not have turned out well, as there was not enough trial and error (and analyzing) to know all the things we prefer or would rather do without.
Knowing those things has saved me a lot of time trying recipes with ingredients or combinations that we would not have liked. Everyone’s taste buds, even within my household, are different. So while I may rave about a recipe, you may dislike it enough to wonder what I was on that day. My husband often gives me those looks, as his taste buds pick up on things I don’t. Once you find a source of recipes that your family likes, stick with that source and try all of their recipes that sound appealing. It is likely they like the same spice/food combinations as you and there will be more recipes you like. I have also used the same to rule out several cookbooks after trying a few recipes from them – if we don’t like 3 or 4, I am pretty sure we are not going to like the next 20.
*- denotes new-to-us recipes
- Cream of Wheat
- Gluten Free Coconut Flour Pancakes
- Chocolate Chip Monkey Muffins
- Strawberry Hand Pies
- Eat out
- Pulled Pork Sandwiches, homemade fries
- Meatball Curry*, rice, vegetables
- Dad’s Meatloaf with Tomato Relish, Herbed Bulgar-Lentil Pilaf*
- Herb Crusted Pork Chops, Lentil-Quinoa Salad*
- Sandwiches on Croissants, yogurt, fruit, chips, and Lentil Cookies*
- Eat out
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup*
- Slow Cooker Lentil and Brown Rice Tacos (meal from last week we never made)
- Herbed Lentils with Spinach and Tomatoes*, brown rice
- Vegetable Lentil Stew*, Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread
For more ideas also check out This Week For Dinner.