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Monday, April 15, 2024 at 8:39 AM

What’s Cooking in Kelli’s Kitchen - Grains and Legumes

What’s Cooking in Kelli’s Kitchen - Grains and Legumes
File photo.

What’s Cooking in Kelli’s Kitchen

The Kelly household regularly includes animal protein as the “main ingredient” in many of our meals. However, we have started integrating more plant-based meals into our weekly menu. Plants are packed with the sorts of things that bodies need to be healthy (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants); eating more plants helps boost our immune system, helps reduce inflammation, leads to healthier digestion, and can lower our risk for cancer. Studies have found that eating a plant-based diet decreases your risk for type 2 diabetes by 30% and can lower your total cholesterol by 15-30%. While the occasional mid-rare ribeye is nice, it’s a no-brainer to integrate more plant-based whole foods into our diet.

One of my favorite combinations of plants is the nutritionally bountiful duo of grains and legumes. When you combine a grain (rice, oats, barley, wheat, corn) with a legume (chickpeas, lentils, beans, peas), you form a complete protein with an ample supply of all nine essential amino acids. Make sure your plant-based dish contains whole, not refined grains. A whole-grain kernel has three parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ. The bran has a hard outer shell and contains fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. The endosperm is the middle layer of a whole grain and is mostly made of carbohydrates. The germ makes up the center of the grain and contains vitamins, minerals, protein, and plant compounds. Whole grains can be cracked, crushed, and rolled; as long as all three components of the grain are present, they are considered “whole.”

Eating more plants can be fun, easy, and delicious. Here are some recipes to help you get started.

Red Curry Lentils


  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 T Thai Red curry paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
  • 1 t ground turmeric
  • 1 c red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 c white stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 t kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • Cilantro - for garnish


  1. In a heavy bottomed pot, heat 2 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over (5-7 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add 1 T olive oil into the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent (4-6 minutes). Add curry paste, garlic, ginger, chile, and turmeric, continue cooking for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the lentils, stock, salt, and sweet potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted. Turn off the heat, stir in lime juice, and season to taste with salt. Serve over brown rice garnished with cilantro.

Chickpea and Barley Stew


  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and green parts diced
  • 1 bu cilantro, leaves and stems separated
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T garam masala
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 4 c white stock (chicken or veggie)
  • ½ c pearled barley
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Pinch of saffron, crumbled (optional)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and diced
  • ½ c lentils
  • Plain yogurt and hot paprika for serving


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, heat oil over medium heat and sauté leeks until they begin to brown (10 minutes).
  2. Finely chop cilantro stems and add them to the pot along with the fennel and garlic. Cook for a few minutes. Add in garam masala, cinnamon stick, and tomato paste, and cook until the paste starts to darken (2 minutes).
  3. Add in the broth, 1 c water, the barley and 2 t salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Add in saffron and simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes. Stir in chickpeas, squash, turnip, and lentils, and cook for another 20-30 minutes until the barley is tender. Season to taste and remove cinnamon stick.
  4. Serve in bowls with a dollop of yogurt on top. Drizzle with olive oil and garnish with cilantro leaves and hot paprika.



Comment author: Claude EzzellComment text: Paul was one of the most manifest men I have ever met. He was a good friends with my Dad and always had an entertaining story for the occasion. One of my most favorite stories Paul told dated back to the late 60s or early 70s and it revolved around him killing a deer way out in the mountains. Naturally the deer ran down into a deep canyon and died. Knowing that it would take him forever to haul it out he devised an awesome plan. After preparing the deer he drove back to NAS Fallon and rustled up a SAR crew and they flew out and picked up the deer. Of course it was labeled as a training flight but what the hell in those days you could do that sort of thing. Rest in Peace my friend until we meet again!!Comment publication date: 4/11/24, 1:15 PMComment source: Obituary - LCDR Paul N PflimlinComment author: THughesComment text: So sad to hear. Prayers to the Goings family.Comment publication date: 4/5/24, 6:35 PMComment source: Obituary - Bill GoingsComment author: April SmithComment text: I love this beautiful woman and her family so much. Such a pure soul and I had a great pleasure taking care of her while she was at the homestead and being by her side for her last daysComment publication date: 4/2/24, 8:50 PMComment source: Obituary - Frances Elaine (Sanford) Atkinson V Comment author: Veronica BrandenburgComment text: Dee was the nicest lady! I remember her fondly from the days of my youth at Northside Elementary, many years ago. She and Mrs. Rowe were my favorite office ladies! I am so sorry to hear of her passing. My thoughts are with her family.Comment publication date: 4/1/24, 3:26 PMComment source: Obituary - Mary Delda “Dee Hewitt