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Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry

CurryTHE VERDICT:

Not the most authentic curry out there, but a warm and tasty meal nonetheless. It was fairly easy to throw together and the only time-consuming part was waiting the 30 minutes for the potatoes to cook. On a weeknight, you could easily leave this to simmer on the stove while you take care of other chores–a plus for any busy household.

There is lots of potential for easy experimentation here as well. Michael Smith suggests trying other nut butters, using squash instead of sweet potato or varying the spice with different curry pastes, but I think mixing up the citrus juice (lime or lemon instead of orange) would really brighten up the flavours of this dish. I think experimenting with different kinds of veggie combinations could also lead to some tasty results.

The use of peanut butter (or in our case, imitation peanut butter) really thickens up the sauce in this dish. If you prefer a saucier curry, you may want to skip the nut butter altogether.

If you shred the spinach into small pieces and make sure they are soft and wilted before removing the pan from the heat, this dish can be served as is to a child who is experienced with eating solid food (about 9 months and older).

If you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPE:

Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry (source: The Best of Chef at Home by Chef Michael Smith)

a splash of vegetable oil

1 large onion, diced

3 or 4 cloves of garlic, chopped

a small knob of frozen ginger

1 tsp. of Thai curry paste

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

one 19 oz. can of chickpeas

one 14 oz. can of coconut milk

1 cup of orange juice

1/2 cup of peanut butter or any other nut butter (we used imitation peanut butter and it worked out fine)

a sprinkle or two of sea salt

1 cup or so of frozen peas

several handfuls of spinach

a bunch of chopped cilantro (if you like that sort of thing)

  • Add a splash of two of vegetable oil to a stockpot over medium-high heat. Toss in the onion and garlic and saute them until they’re lightly browned, about 5 minutes or so.
  • Grate the frozen ginger into the pan with a Microplane grater or standard box grater and add the Thai curry paste. Continue cooking until the spices are heated through and fragrant, another few minutes.
  • Add the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, orange juice, peanut butter and salt. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and continue simmering until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the peas and spinach and cilantro.
  • Serve over rice.
  • Freestyle variation: There are three basic types of Thai curry paste, each with its own distinctive flavour. You may choose one based on your tolerance for spicy heat: yellow is the mildest, red is a bit spicier and green is the spiciest. This dish cooks very well in your slow cooker. You may use any type of hard winter squash instead of sweet potatoes; butternut and acorn work well.

Makes 6-8 servings.


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Chocolate Chip Cranberry Granola Bars & Sparkling Iced Tea

Granola Bar and Sparkling Iced TeaTHE VERDICT:

Both of these recipes make for a tasty afternoon snack though the beverage is a much healthier option if you are counting calories. The granola bars are amazing, but they are a problematic snack. The original recipe should be prepared in a 9 x 9 cake pan and then cut into 16 pieces, leaving you with a miniscule portion size that packs a whopping 157 calories without filling you up. Because we cut larger, more filling bars, I’ve doubled the original recipe, so that we can eat these as snacks all week long. We won’t make this recipe often as it is not the healthiest choice (though it is still preferable to the heavily processed granola bars available at the grocery store), and in the future we may try to make healthier substitutions for some of the ingredients (e.g. pumpkin seeds instead of chocolate chips).

The iced tea is extremely refreshing and I am looking forward to making several variations of this recipe over the warm summer months. The original recipe only serves two and is designed to be served shortly after making it, so I altered things a little bit. I just made a jug of extremely strong cranberry-raspberry tea and then diluted it with club soda whenever I made a glass. This would be a great drink to serve at a summer barbecue.

THE RECIPES:

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Granola Bars (source: Spark Recipes; original recipe)

Sparkling Iced Tea (www.canadianfamily.ca; original recipe)

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