December is here. I can’t believe we’re entering the last month of the year. It seems as if not long ago I was picking up fresh corn and juicy tomatoes at the farmers market. It’s now all about cozy comfort food, big cups of hot chocolate and holiday baking.
Truth is, these past few weeks have been a whirlwind of work, deadlines and a bit too much stress. I’ve found it hard to remain focused, clear-headed and productive lately. I’ve been running around a lot, juggling between freelance work, recipe development and personal projects – my mind being in a thousand places at the same time. I haven’t taken much time to just chill and relax.
With my vacation approaching (if you missed my last post, I decided to book a much-needed last minute trip and I’m leaving for Bali in a week!), I’ve been frantically trying to check things off my to-do list, without being very mindful about any of it. Moving from one task to the other without appreciating the things that are right there in front of me. It’s a recurrent struggle for me and something that I constantly force myself to be more aware of. It seems to happen quite often around the holiday period. Perhaps you can relate too?
I’m excited to bring you today’s recipe in partnership with a local company that I absolutely, wholeheartedly love: GRAIN. I’ve talked about them and used their farro last summer in this post. Today I’m using their fabulous French Lentils for the tastiest, cosiest stuffed sweet potatoes.
GRAIN is a Canadian company, founded by two inspiring women, Shira McDermott of the incredible blog In Pursuit of More, and her friend Janna Bishop. Their mission is simple: bringing you the freshest, highest quality Canadian dry goods, while ensuring complete transparency in the process – a concept that we sadly don’t see often enough in the food industry. So much of the food we buy ends up on our table without us having a clue where it came from. Thankfully, there are companies like GRAIN, who work hard to bridge this gap between farmers and consumers. What initially made me fall in love with GRAIN is the fact that the farmers faces and farm locations are illustrated on every single box. Talk about transparency. Whenever you buy a product from them, you know exactly where it’s from. The French lentils I used here were cultivated by Dwayne Woolhouse in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan. You can even find a short story about the farmers on their website.
At the time of writing my previous post, GRAIN’s products were only available in select stores in Western Canada. But their offering has expanded to the online world, and all of North America can now benefit from their fabulous dry goods. Canada grows the bulk of the world’s supply of chickpeas, lentils, and wheat crops, and the vast majority of it is being exported to other markets. Thankfully, GRAIN is now making the freshest, highest-quality products our land has to offer (think Wheat Berries, Farro, French Lentils, Laird Lentils, Kabuli Chickpeas and Golden Quinoa), available for purchase directly through their online store to people across Canada and the US. Even better news, GRAIN is currently offering free shipping until December 5th, plus a 15% discount to my readers with the code GREENLIFE15.
I’ve cooked with many of their products and their quality is truly outstanding – superior to anything I’ve had before. After trying GRAIN, I swear you’ll never want to go back to buying grains and legumes in traditional supermarkets. Their chickpeas, farro and wheat berries are among my favourites, and I look forward to trying their Organic Blue Barley (offered for a limited time) and hopefully make their blue barley mushroom risotto.
If cooking with ancient grains or pulses is new to you, GRAIN’s journal contains a ton of beautiful recipes for delicious weeknight dinner inspiration.
I wasn’t sure about how to name this recipe, but the mix of spices and condiments I used here to coat the French lentils reminded me of a BBQ sauce. The miso paste adds a nice complexity to the flavours. It’s a bit smoky, sweet, salty and umami, and it goes so well with the sweetness of the potatoes. The French lentils are packed with nutrition and provide a healthy dose of protein, for a filling, nourishing and satisfying meal.
I love to serve these sweet potatoes with a generous drizzle of garlic and lemon cashew cream for the extra creaminess. And I highly recommend to top it off with some fresh avocado slices, green onion and cilantro to balance it all out. So good you guys.
Thank you so much GRAIN for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I truly believe that their dry goods are among the best you’ll ever have. You can shop them here and get free shipping on all orders before Dec 5th, 2016. Grain is also offering my readers a 15% discount! Simply enter the code GREENLIFE15 at checkout. Thanks for supporting the brands who support The Green Life!
Notes on the recipe: I’ve also made this recipe with mushrooms and it was a lovely addition. If you decide to add them, just cook the mushrooms right after the shallot and garlic before adding everything else. I recommend serving these with the cashew sauce, but I’m sure some plain yogurt with a squeeze of lemon and salt would be delicious too. And don’t skip on the toppings, they bring freshness and balance everything out.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the sweet potatoes, and prick a few holes with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until tender. Cooking time will vary according to their size. (They are ready when a knife can easily pierce in the center).
For the lentils
Rinse the lentils well and remove any debris. Place in a saucepan and cover with fresh water (water should reach about 2 inches above the lentils). Cover and bring to boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Pour lentils through a mesh strainer, and add a good pinch of sea salt.
In a small bowl, mix together the miso paste, tomato paste, maple syrup, tamari, and balsamic vinegar.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for a few minutes, until soft. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Then add the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper and stir to coat. Cook for one more minute. Add the miso mixture and cooked lentils and stir well to coat. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
For the cashew cream
Place all the ingredient in a blender, and add about 1/4 cup water. Blend and add more water as needed, until you've reached a thin, sauce-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Gently slice each sweet potato length wise. Stuff each potato with the lentil mixture, drizzle with the cashew sauce and top with fresh avocado, chopped green onion, fresh cilantro, and any topping you'd like.