My Trinidadian mother-in-law is visiting and wanted to share a recipe perfect for vegetarians. Dahl (dal, dhal, daal) is Indian in origin and usually made from dried lentils, peas, or beans. Yellow split peas is the common choice in Trinidad for this savory dish and it's served over rice. Dahl is great for vegetarians because it's main ingredient is a good source of protein. To really maximize the protein, I've chosen to eat it over a bed of quinoa. I'll talk more about this iron and fiber rich, gluten-free grain in a future post.

Now, my mother-in-law gave me the "recipe" verbally and I usually don't follow written ones to the letter anyway. So, I don't have precise measurements for what I used. This will be on the spicy side which is typical of Indian cuisine but leaving the rice or quinoa unseasoned will balance it out and of course for those who like it extra spicy, like myself, you can add more seasoning to taste.

1 cup yellow split peas
2 cups water
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. cardamom
2 tbsp. curry
couple pinches sea salt
tsp butter

Cooking directions
Put all ingredients in and simmer on low medium heat until reaching a stew like consistency. Stir regularly. Serve over steamed rice or quinoa. This will make enough for about 4 servings.

I served this with sweet potatoes as seen in the pic. I know the potatoes look boring but they weren't. I drizzled some local whipped cinnamon honey over them so, I had the sweet and savory flavors rockin' my world. Please share comments if you try this one. Enjoy!
Note: Sorry my pic isn't really good. I don't have a digital camera. I wouldn't object to a donation. *wink* 

For years my diet has included little variety in meats. I adopted a poultry only diet over a decade ago. It wasn't reasons of faith or health. I was simply tired of pork and red meat. Pork was always the evil white meat. In southern cuisine, the fat isn't usually trimmed thus making it a major contributor to high blood pressure and cholesterol. In my late teens, the thought of a pork chop taking years of my life wasn't appealing, so, at 17 I was officially over eating a pig's ass. About a year later, red meat got the boot as I had had my fill of burger combos. It was considered eccentric and avant garde down South. When I'd have to reveal that I didn't eat red meat or pork, I was always met with "Oh, so you're a vegetarian?" I offended many when I'd joke that southerners think that the only sources of meat are the cow and the pig. How they forget chicken is beyond me.

Fast forward 10 years and I have a son who's 2 years old. He consumed a little meat for awhile but slowly began to eat it less and less. The family was cool with it until we all realized the kid's a vegetarian. Time went on and by 3 or 4 years of age, Zion completely refused meat. I was absolutely fine with it. I actually thought it was kinda neat that he seemed to innately be a herbivore. I also saw the value from an economical viewpoint: the boy won't eat me out of house and home. The family though was a little resistant to the idea. They felt it was too early in his life to make such an assessment.  Of course, I said no, we're gonna roll with it. And we have, right into year 7. He's got to be the healthiest kid on the planet. He loves everything healthy. I've never seen a kid get excited over homemade veggie soup. Over the last 5 years I've often thought if only I loved vegetables more, I'd be a veg head too. That's right, I do not like veggies. Well, very few. So, no I was of no influence on my son's vegetarianism. However, he did influence me.

Now, rewind to about a month ago. I ditched meat altogether. Normally, I would not reveal this kinda thing while it's still so new because I'd hate to admit if I have a relapse. After almost a year of feeling like I was dying a slow obese death, I got a Wii and began to exercise and great changes have occurred. My energy has improved and little aches and pains have faded. Then I joined Weight Watchers. It's been enlightening. I always thought I didn't eat much but I see that it was the quality and not the quantity that affected my weight. The next change I knew was necessary for the lifestyle I've been molding for me and my family was to become a vegetarian. So far, I've only craved chicken once. I do still eat some fish which the jury seems to still be out on whether or not it's actually meat. So, for those who wanna get technical I might be called a pescetarian.

I'm excited about the person I'm becoming. It's true that your 30's are about getting over the BS. And I'm sooo over so many things. I'm about longevity- mind, body and spirit. And today when someone asks me if I'm a vegetarian, with an introspective smile I say: "Yes."
Friday I attended my monthly home school group meeting and we focused on healthy eating. Our host prepared a variety of treats like fresh salad, baked brie, and homemade hummus. I brought some of my own homemade granola. After we feasted, we watched the documentary Food Inc. This documentary I implore everyone to see. I think it should  be shown not only in individual households but also, in schools and churches to educate people where and how the meat they consume gets from the farm to the grocery stores. It is not an easy film to watch but a little gagging is worth the eye-opening experience and the knowledge anyone would take away. I've already been slowly phasing out the few meats (poultry) I consume to match my son's vegetarian diet and the lasting images and stories from Food Inc. are making it easier. We all ave to know and understand that four corporations control a majority of the meat industry. We have to know and understand that because they have so little concern for consumers that they will have their meat sources bred and harvested in such deplorable conditions that they lead to massive e. coli outbreaks which can and have been deadly. We have to know that the farmers these companies employ are basically modern-day sharecroppers as some of them take on exorbitant loans that their meager salaries will never allow them to pay off in a lifetime. But don't think that this documentary is a ploy to undermine the meat industry as you'll not only see unethical farming and harvesting by some major corporations but also, ethical and humane practices by smaller indie farmers. It's simply about educating us consumers on making informed choices when we shop for meat and to use our voice-dollars-to demand change. The film also goes a bit into the use of soybeans and corn. The corn segment should shed light on why we suddenly have commercials touting the consumption of high fructose corn syrup is fine "in moderation". I call FOUL on that, but I'll let you be your own judge. So, please strongly consider viewing the documentary which is currently available at Netflix on DVD and instant stream and through the official website for hosting school viewings.
The admin. for my online coupon group sent us a message about a mom who plans her family of six's meals for an entire year. Here was my response via email:

Wow, I mean...wow. I don't know how to respond to that. Well, one problem is you're gonna be eating a lot of processed food like all that Rice-a-Roni she had stockpiled. But still that's amazing to do that with that many people to feed. There's only three of us and I can't wrap my head around meal planning for a whole year.

Now, is this really feasible for the masses? Can it be done with healthier, fresh foods without necessarily be vegetarian or vegan? What say you?
So, I've had this liquid creamer in my fridge for months. My cheap coffee maker becoming uncooperative led to an impromptu hiatus from coffee. I've never been a coffee drinker out of necessity so it wasn't a big deal. But, tossing two nearly full bottles of creamer was a big deal. Fast forward to about a month ago when I bought a bunch of Swiss Miss hot chocolate. The Mr. and The Kid have been throwing it back for weeks when I finally decided to have a cup. It was okay but I wanted some whip cream. Not available and not going to the store right now. What else? Ooh, vanilla caramel coffee creamer! It was splendid with a bit of nutmeg. Now, I still want some whip cream so it can just completely rock my world, but this will work. This is a great solution for non-coffee drinkers who are tantalized by the sound of all the delicious flavored coffees of my once favorite overpriced coffee retailer. My next cup will get a healthy splash of Gingerbread creamer. Yum-o!