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Rosy Red Lentil Coconut Daal (gluten, dairy and meat-free)

Updated: Feb 24, 2020

Daal is a staple dish from India with countless variations that dates back to B.C. times. This version contains red lentils, red onions, red bell peppers, and tomatoes, for a thoroughly rosy, Daal experience. It is kind of like a thick stew with a little sweetness, a little kick, and a creamy, soothing consistency. It also boasts a whole host of healing ingredients that promote brain health, digestive health, and overall health. Full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, complex carbohydrates, plant based protein and good fats, it is a grounding, healthful comfort food.

I have been slowly tweaking this recipe over the last year, and will probably continue to tweak, but it is now at the point where my kids ask for seconds so I think it is ready to share. As a family, we are trying to learn how to eat more sustainably. We want to be aware of where our food comes from, what has been put on it, who has labored to care for it and how they have been treated. We want to think about how far it has come from, how much fuel it took to get it here, and, if it is an animal product, how that animal has been fed and treated. We do not eat, buy or think perfectly along these lines but are trying to become more aware and careful about our choices. We are a work in progress. In order to do this, we often must spend more on our ingredients so I have been learning slowly about what it means to budget with these goals in mind. Part of it is enjoying a decent amount of veggie-loaded, meat-free meals and this is one of the ones that top my list.

Now, let's nerd out for a minute about the amazing healing benefits that can be gained from consistently eating whole, plantiful foods like these ones. In this Daal are the good-for-you fats, Ghee and Coconut Milk. These fats are good for our brain, digestion and so much more. Coconut contains antimicrobial properties as well as fatty acids called lauric and caprylic acid which help your stomach maintain the acidity it needs to digest food well. Because it is a kind of fat that is called a medium chain triglyceride, it is more easily digested than some other fats so it is a good choice for a person suffering from digestion issues like IBS. It is also an easy fat for your body to use and not just store so it is good for your brain and may be beneficial for the prevention and treatment of memory impairment as well as for obesity, elevated LDL cholesterol (the not-good kind of cholesterol), and insulin resistance. Grass-fed Ghee is also a fantastic fat that has been used for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic tradition as a very healing food. Because it is butter that has been clarified, most people that are sensitive to dairy do just fine on it. It is helpful in soothing inflammation, is soothing and healing to the digestive tract, and is chock full of essential vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K which are necessary for our brain, immune health and overall health. Good fats like these are needed to even be able to absorb many different kinds of vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K, so eat it up!

Many of the fantastic spices this hearty dish contains have been found to calm inflammation, promote good digestion and are full of antioxidants ( good, protective, essential vitamins and minerals that keep us happy and healthy). Another star is the Red pepper, which have high levels of many different vitamins including vitamin A. A chopped cup of red peppers contains three times the amount of vitamin C as orange when eaten raw. We are cooking them in this dish so some of the vitamin C is going to be lost, but that vitamin A will be easier to absorb so it's a toss up. Go ahead and snack on them raw while you cook;)

Tomatoes contain high amounts of what is called lycopene that only becomes more bio-available, or easy for your body to absorb, with heat. So hello, canned or jarred tomatoes! Lycopene is an antioxidant in the carotenoid family that has benefits ranging from brain health to eye health, cancer prevention and LDL cholesterol lowering affects.

Lastly we have the Red Lentil, which is really a nutritional powerhouse. It has the fiber to help balance our blood sugar, high amounts of many vitamins and minerals, and the protein to fuel our muscles, brain and body. So now you know. Eat all the things!

Rosy Red Lentil Coconut Daal

Prep 10 minutes

Cook Time

Instant Pot: 15 minutes(plus heating and releasing time) Stovetop: 60 minutes

Makes 4 servings


3 tbs coconut oil (for a fully vegan experience) or grass-fed ghee

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium red onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 1/2 cups red lentils

2 tsp shredded ginger or 1 tsp ground ginger

1 tbs curry powder

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tsp sea or Himalayan salt plus more to taste

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper if you like some heat

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tbs honey, maple syrup or sweetener of choice

3-4 cups water Instant Pot: 3 cups water Stovetop: 4 cups of water

1 14.5 oz BPA free can of diced tomatoes

1 can full fat coconut milk

cilantro and lime wedges to top

4-5 cups brown rice, cooked, to serve

Method- Instant Pot

1. Scoop coconut oil or ghee into the instant pot on "Saute" and add garlic, onions, and bell peppers. Saute for 4 minutes, stirring frequently, and then add spices, stirring and sauteing for another minute.

2. Add the lentils, tomatoes, honey and 3 cups of water.

3. Press "cancel" on your instant pot and then set it to cook for 10 minutes on "high pressure." When it beeps, let it sit for a couple minutes and then quick release it.

4. Once you can open it, add in the can of coconut milk, stir and add any more salt you feel it needs.

5 Serve over cooked brown rice or quinoa, and top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

6. Enjoy!

Method- Stovetop

1. Scoop coconut oil or ghee into a pot heated on medium heat. Add garlic, onion and red peppers and saute for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add spices and stir for one more minute.

2. Add lentils and 4 cups of water. Turn on high heat until it boils, turn down to simmer cover, and cook for about 40 minutes.

3. Add honey, coconut milk and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.

4. Serve over cooked brown rice or quinoa, and top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

5. Enjoy!

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