By definition, curry is simply vegetables + protein cooked in a sauce of strong spices and turmeric, served with rice (according to Google). In my kitchen, this formula becomes my Sweet & Spicy 30 Minute Curry with Lentils. It’s a #MeatlessMonday favorite. Keep scrolling to find the full recipe!
I’m not sure why, but the craving for curry hit me hard last week. We have a few favorite spots in town that serve up some ah-mazing versions of Thai or Indian style curries, but in my efforts to rein in my frivolous spending habits, I haven’t had it in a while. Insert cry-face emoji here.
But silly me, I forget how easy it is to whip up a simple curry at home. Ok, maybe not easy….but simple. “Simple” and “easy” are not interchangeable, but it is possible to create a home cooked version of a favorite dish in less than an hour. While I’d love to give this bad boy a chance to simmer longer and meld these flavors even more, it’s not happening on a weekday. There’s too much to do!
Cooking time will depend on how large (or small) you chop your veggies. The carrots and sweet potatoes will take the longest, but if you’re like me and want a little firmness left, 30 minutes is all you need. Package up any leftovers and be prepared for delicious lunchtime noms for the next couple of days.
These leftovers served me well when I headed to the state capitol of Topeka, KS for our Public Policy Workshop. Every spring, the Kansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (KSAND) brings dietitians, interns, and students together for a one-day workshop that centers on advocacy and legislation that affects our profession.
Now, I may have lost you there and that’s ok. I am totally, 100% aware that this topic is less-than-exciting for the vast majority of people. BUT, hear me out: in the state of Kansas, there is a list nearly two pages long of mandatory services covered by the state healthcare plan. But nutrition and dietitian services is not on that list. And I am not ok with that. This is a problem I want to do something about.
Furthermore, one of the largest insurance providers in the state (who shall not be named) does not reimburse for dietitian services UNLESS they are performed under the supervision of a physician. I’m sorry *not sorry* but I am not ok with having my ability to practice as I see fit be limited by whether or not I have a physician, with minimal training in nutrition, overseeing my work.
Long story short, it’s important for dietitians to advocate for more of our services to be covered. Preventive care is more cost effective in the long run, and we live and breathe prevention. I want to help clients and patients maintain their quality of life, and manage chronic conditions with diet and lifestyle instead of costly medications or procedures. Hopefully they never have to reach that point but I often don’t see them until they’re already there.
Moving into private practice is an exciting leap to take, but it’s also filled with uncertainty about the future. With all of the potential changes in the health care world, it’s hard to say where we [dietitians] will end up, but you can rest assured I’ll be doing my part to advocate for my profession. We need stronger voices to stand up and make our profession more visible. We need dietitians from all areas of practice, including students, to get involved to show our strength in numbers.
Kansas wasn’t the only state hosting a public policy day. And dietitians aren’t the only ones who can advocate for improved health care. We can all be our own advocates, for our personal health and the future of healthcare. Reach out to your lawmakers on issues that are important to you!
[steps off soap box now]
And in the meantime, fuel up with some dang delicious curry.
Sweet and Spicy 30-Minute Curry
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
2 small sweet potatoes
4 medium carrots
1 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow onion
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons sweet curry powder
1/2 Tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Dash of salt and pepper
1 can (14.5 oz) coconut milk
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
1 3/4 cups water or low-sodium stock
1 cup uncooked black lentils
Wash, peel, and chop the sweet potatoes into 1/2″ cubes. Wash and peel the carrots, then slice into 1/4″ slices. Chop the bell pepper and onion, then add all veggies to a large non-stick skillet. Add the coconut oil and turn the burner to medium-high heat. Cook, covered, for 10-12 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
Add the garlic, curry powder, crushed red pepper, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, then add the coconut milk. Stir well, then recover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the carrots and sweet potatoes are cooked to your preferred doneness. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to the curry mixture. Stir to combine.
Remove from heat and garnish with green onions. Add the cooked lentils to a bowl and spoon the curry over the top. Serve with a lime wedge (optional).
FOR THE LENTILS:
In the meantime, heat a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the water or low-sodium stock to a boil. Sift through the dried lentils, removing any debris if needed, then add to the saucepan and reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook until all liquid is absorbed and the lentils are fully cooked (about 2- to 25 minutes).
Substitute brown rice, freekeh, quinoa, or other grain for the lentils if desired.
For a thicker, creamier consistency, use regular coconut milk. For a thinner consistency, use lite coconut milk.
Adjust heat as needed by adding additional crushed red pepper, or using a spicy curry powder instead of sweet.