So I have decided to jump on board and join the Meat Free Monday campaign, and I have to tell you, when Monday comes, I am salivating, as I know the flavours that are in stall for me. Regardless of what lifestyle you practice, the health benefits that the variety of vegetables, grains and plant-based proteins bring, as well as the positive impact this campaign has on the environment makes this ‘one day a week’, a day to look forward to.
The Meat free Monday movement has now spread in over 44 countries and it continues to grow. It was initially found by Sid Lerner in 2003, in the efforts to try and re-introduce a health conscious campaign. The singer-songwriter of the Beatles, Paul McCartney has taken a lead in this campaign, emphasizing the importance thereof in his interview, “Forget ‘Eight Days a Week’—Paul McCartney’s Asking for Just One” , carried out by National Geographic .
The health benefits are abundant when it comes to cooking with vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts- limiting your intake of saturated fats while pumping your body with vitamins, minerals, fibre and all things fresh. Not forgetting that this practice can be super beneficial to your money-saving intentions too. Skipping meat once a week is not only good for you, but it’s great for our nation’s health, and even better for the planet.
What better a dish to start off your week than a fragrant, nutrient-dense chickpea, broccoli and spinach curry? Jam-packed with ingredients that take this meal from being ‘good for you’ to oh so wholesome. This quick-to-make curry is one you don’t want to miss.
The lentils and chickpeas that form the bulk of the dish are plant-based proteins, which are both high in fibre and pack a protein punch. Chickpeas provide all the essential and non-essential amino acids, which are the building blocks needed to make proteins in our body. Lentils also contain numerous bioactive ingredients, which are compounds found in food that affect the cells and tissues in our body and in turn benefit our health. The bioactive compounds found in lentils are called polyphenols, which help to ‘switch on’ some of the genes that we want to be active in our body, for example those that aid in decreasing inflammation and increase detoxification.
In fact, once eaten, this curry could throw a HUGE nutrigenomic party in our body, as it is contains many dietary components that can regulate and affect gene expression in our body. There is strong evidence that turmeric (curcumin), freshly chopped coriander, lycopene found in cooked tomatoes and quercetin, found in garlic and onions, activate NrF2 – the master regulator of a powerful process that enhances antioxidant activity in our body that helps us to stay young and healthy.
Not only do these powerful ingredients help combat oxidative stress, but they also help reduce inflammation in the body, turmeric in particular. They do this by turning down the volume of the inflammatory stimulating proteins NF-Kb (Nuclear factor kappa B) and TNF-Alpha (Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha).
Steaming above the legumes and saucy curry base, sit the vibrantly green broccoli and spinach, rich in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C. Each mineral and vitamin in their own right, nourishing you respectively with benefits such as, red blood cell formation, fluid balance, bone strength, enzyme activation, DNA production, vision preservation and antioxidant activity.
Chop some fresh coriander and a handful of raw baby spinach to garnish, ensuring you get some extra nutritional benefits by incorporating a cooked raw approach.
Well… what you waiting for?
Chickpea, Broccoli and Spinach Curry
1 yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
Ginger, 2cm size piece
6 ripe tomatoes
1 head broccoli, broken small florets (300g)
400g tinned chickpeas drained
200g baby spinach leaves
4 tablespoons red lentils
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 ½ teaspoons of coriander powder
1 ½ teaspoons of chilli flakes (you can add more depending on your spice tolerance)
6 tablespoons of coconut cream
1 ½ cups of water
Fresh coriander (optional for garnish)
- Peel and chop the onion and garlic. Grate the ginger.
- Chop the tomatoes into small cubes and roughly blend with a stick blenders in a bowl, creating a tomato puree where half the tomatoes are still solid pieces. Set aside.
- Cut your broccoli into florets, measure out your spinach, drain out the liquid from the chickpeas and set aside so that you are ready to rock and roll.
- Heat the olive oil to a medium heat, add the onions, garlic and ginger, sautéing them for 5 minutes until golden.
- Add the spices to the sautéed onion mixture and mix through, allowing the aromas to develop for 2 minutes.
- Add the coconut cream, tomato puree and lentils. Simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes, allowing the lentils to soften and the tomatoes to release their juices.
- Pour in the chickpeas and gently stir them through the curry sauce.
- Place your broccoli florets on top of the chickpeas and place the lid on the pot, allowing the broccoli to steam for 4 minutes as you still want them to be crunchy and green.
- Add the spinach to the top of the curry, cover with the lid and further cook on a low heat for 2 more minutes.
- Mix the vegetables through the curry, gently coating them with the sauce.
- Garnish the curry with freshly chopped coriander and a handful of fresh baby spinach.
**You can also serve it with quinoa , brown rice or on its own.
Nourish yourself to the sunrise.
Cooked with love,
Sunrise by HM
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