Sunday, June 26, 2011

Red Lentil Burgers

What’s a busybody’s dream food? RED LENTILS!

Let me tell you, these little things are cheap, versatile, and fast! I make a variety of dishes, from curries to chowders to variations of the traditional lentil soup. Thanks to Poor Girl Eats Well, I’ve discovered red lentil hummus, too! Her recipe is simple and you can easily personalize it. Red lentil hummus has become my go-to snack: I eat it as veggie dip, spread it on crackers, and use it in place of mayo on sandwiches.

But I digress. I got up this morning to tell you about red lentil burgers. Yes, yes, y’all! These are a tasty alternative to the ubiquitous veggie patty and bland black bean burgers.

Because I buy vegan, my recipe omits eggs. Therefore, I make my patties a little smaller so they will be less crumbly. This recipe yields 8-12 patties. The recipe that inspired my own simpler version is here.

The Goods
¾ cup red lentils
2 ½ cups water
2 cups mushrooms
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery hearts, diced
1 cup onion, diced
3 cloves (ish) garlic
2 cups breadcrumbs

Seasonings (to taste)
Salt n pepper
Cayenne pepper
Lemon juice

Bring lentils to a boil. (For more flavor, I prepare my lentils with veggie broth and a bay leaf.) Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain very well and set aside. You may want to use a wire colander because you want the lentils as dry as possible.

Saute the onion, garlic, and cayenne pepper in olive oil. When the onion is translucent, add the other vegetables and all seasonings except the lemon juice. Saute it all til it smells good and the mushrooms are soft but not slimey. Drain excess liquid.

Combine your lentils and veggie mix. Add the lemon juice. Add the breadcrumbs. Adjust seasoning to taste. Then chill the mash in the fridge for 30 minutes. Afterwards, make small patties and brown them on the stove, about 5 minutes each side.

Top with your favorite fixins. I suggest avocado, red bell pepper and hot mustard. Enjoy!

P.S. For all you playful flirts, this recipe is great to make with your date or sweetie!

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Loc Journey

What a jolt it was to see my own face staring back at me from my laptop!

Karen over at Naturally Beautiful Hair posted my essay, Bold Cuts, about my loc journey! I'm so grateful that she's allowed me to share my relationship with my hair with even more people. Thank you, Karen!

Naturally Beautiful Hair
is a lovely site dedicated to black women and our natural hairstyles. The interviews and testimonies are my favorites, while the photos always make me proud to be black and natural! Go check out Naturally Beautiful Hair and get inspired!

Shortly after I submitted my essay, I chopped my locs! This is me now!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ode to Coconut Oil

Friends, I found the mother lode of all beauty products! For all you looking for answers to dry hair and skin, COCONUT OIL is the best thing out there. Online reviewers rave about it, POC people in tropical regions have been using it for years and it apparently it is more multi-functional than a Swiss army knife. I had to give it a try.

I stumbled upon coconut oil while looking for alternatives to lotion. Lotion left me high and dry while other oils and butters made my skin break out. They didn’t keep my skin moist for too long, either. With a simmering DC summer in the forecast I had to find something fast. I ran across coconut oil and couldn’t stop reading.

--Your skin absorbs it better and retains it longer than many other oils.
--It’s anti-septic, killing bacteria, viruses and fungi. When ingested regularly, it boosts your immune system.
--Use it for baking, spreads on toast, or add a dollop to oatmeal, smoothies and drinks for added flavor. It has a low smoke point, though, so be careful when frying and sautéing.
--It’s affordable and accessible. Everyone from Giant (Safeway alternative) to Whole Foods carries it. It runs between $10-$16.
--it lasts forever, so you can take your time using it up, not that you’ll need it!

Use #1: Body Moisturizer
Right after the shower, I just rub it all over. It sinks in beautifully and gives my skin a delicious polish that doesn’t leave me greasy. The best part? It actually moisturizes!!! After applying coco oil in the morning, I don’t need to retouch all day. Not even the coldest air conditioned buses could bust a crack on my skin. Even my trouble spots—my shins, which only petroleum jelly could conquer—held up fantastically. Another bonus: In the three months that I’ve been using it, it has not once made my skin break out. My shoulder blades, arms and thighs are blemish free.

Surprise Bonus #1
My feet don’t stink. It’s hot and muggy over here on the East coast and that could spell stinky problems for an active, carless person such as myself. But my feet are odor free!

Use #2: Loc Butter & Hot Oil Treatment

I use coco oil when I palmroll my locs. It makes my hair shine and doesn’t build up. For a hot oil treatment, I combine it with an equal part of olive oil and a couple drops of lavender essential oil. Oh.my.goodness. Heavenly! My hair comes out incredibly soft and smells sooo good.

Surprise Bonus #2
My scalp doesn’t itch as much anymore. I recommended it to my boyfriend for his itchy skin and scalp and wa-la, his curls are soft and flake-free!

Use #3: DIY Deodorant

Now, hold on folks! You know I wouldn’t include it here if I hadn’t tested it out. I’ve been searching for a new deodorant for a while. [TMI ALERT] See, I’ve been skeeved out ever since I discovered what I thought was a pimple in my armpit a couple years ago. Against the advice of every beauty advisor out there, I popped it. And ICK! ICK! ICK! a humongous plug of deodorant came out! It became super clear that deodorant isn’t absorbed into the body but instead just accumulates under your skin. I decided that all those chemicals just cached in my armpit cannot be healthy for me. So I switched to one of those granola deodorants. And it stank. O_o So, I tried another one. And I was sweaty and I stank. Reluctantly I went back to my old standby.

Fast forward to 2011. I am experiencing yet more issues with my deodorant, which I won’t detail here. Emboldened by the good results of coconut oil so far, I decided to try another tempting recipe I’ve seen online: homemade deodorant.

The results? Stink free and, I swear, I sweat less!

Surprise Bonus #3
The smoothest, gunk-free armpits ever! I added a tablespoon of Jane Carter’s Nourish & Shine butter to my deodorant recipe because I like the smell of it.

So, friends. I’m enamored with coconut oil. Coconut oil is easily the best product I’ve ever tried. It feels so good to know that what I’m putting into my skin and body is chemical free, edible and healing. One container does so much, which makes it a very practical and moneysaving product. I hope you give it a chance, too.

For more recipes and ideas for coconut oil, see Crunchy Betty's article.

For more on the health benefits of coconut oil, start here.

**Be sure to buy unrefined coconut oil that has been cold pressed. Mechanically/expeller pressed products use heat which lessens the healthy properties of the oil. Also, hydrogenated and bleached versions are out, too.

**Coconut oil also been touted as a weight loss supplement and energy boost. However, I haven’t tried it consistently enough to give solid feedback on these points.

**if you try Crunchy Betty’s deodorant recipe, please be warned about baking soda. Many people online said it irritated them so you might want to try a reduced amount. I use 3 tablespoons instead of ¼ cup. To avoid a nasty burn, shave at night so you won’t have to apply the deodorant til morning. You don’t want to put baking soda on sensitive skin.

When I discover more miracle products and solutions, I’ll pass them on. Feel free to post questions and feedback in the comments!