January is a great time to detox after a period of extravagance, travel or your grandmother's special chocolate pecan pie. It's also the perfect time to make — realistic! — New Years resolutions, start getting into shape physically and try to be the best versions of ourselves. However, non, this is not the time to become a Liquitarian or completely change your habits, only to revert back to them later.
Going on a week-long juice cleanse in the dead cold of winter in New York City or going from a steak, burger and Diet Coke diet directly to an all-Kale meal plan isn't exactly a healthy "detox." It's all about balance. Ease your body gently into a healthier lifestyle instead of attacking it. And, while you're at it, ENJOY yourself!
While January in America is all about "going on a diet," "getting back to the gym" or "working off those Christmas calories," January in France is the season of "king's cakes" and everyone is sipping champagne and taking bites out of crispy pastry shells with cream inside.
Let's start off the year someplace in the middle of these two extremes, shall we? This magnificent millefeuille (that's French for "Napoleon" or a layered treat) manages to strike a nice balance between warming, filling comfort food and a healthy, nourishing meal. Sure, it's a très liberal interpretation of a traditional lasagna, but come on, it's 2015, why not try something a bit out of the ordinary?
This is a perfect light lunch with a side salad or you can even serve this as a side dish with a larger portion of protein (preferably plant-based, but it's eater's choice — do your thing!) You can replace the quinoa with your favorite grain and the lentils for another legume for an extra protein boost. Sub another nut for pumpkin seeds or even trade the tahini sauce for another sauce like pesto, cashew crème or tomato. This is also easy to make ahead, layer into a (glass or BPA-free please!) storage container and take to the office.
So as you watch your co-workers peer over as they sip their spinach juice slowly in envy, enjoy this delicious and nutritious detox-friendly meal. Oh, and extra bonus: it just happens to be vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and packed with protein, beta-Carotene, vitamins and minerals. This is a wonderful dish to serve to friends. Bon appétit!
Serves 1 (or 2, as a side or appetizer)
- 1/3 cup of raw quinoa
- juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup of water
- ¼ cup of cooked French lentils (or try Tru Roots already sprouted lentils – they cook in less than 10 minutes!)
- 4 slices of butternut squash (around ½-inch thick and as wide as possible, at least 2-3 inches across. If you can't find a big and wide squash, just use several smaller slices)
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (extra virgin + cold-pressed)
- 1 heaping tablespoon of tahini (I like Dastony — If you're using a different, thicker tahini, you may need to add more lemon juice or water to thin out)
- ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch of (Himalayan or sea) salt
- 2 large handfuls of baby kale or spinach or your favorite greens
- a few sprigs of fresh parsley
- a small handful of microgreens (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of raw pumpkin seeds or walnuts
- drizzle of tahini
- splash of lemon juice
- ½ avocado (optional)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Peel and slice the butternut squash. Toss with the coconut oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add to parchment paper on an oven-safe tray and bake for around 20-25 minutes, then flip over and continue to cook until fork-tender.
2. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa and lentils. Steam the kale / greens. Add the pumpkin seeds to the pan then change the oven setting to broil at around 400°F and continue to cook for another minute or two until the butternut is slightly browned and the pumpkin seeds are toasted and fragrant. Remove both from the oven.
3. Mix the quinoa and lentils in a bowl with turmeric, black pepper, tahini and lemon juice. Add the butternut squash layers to a plate or wide bowl. Top with a layer of the quinoa mixture, then a layer of greens, then more butternut and so on. Finish off with fresh parsley, microgreens, pumpkin seeds and another drizzle of tahini and lemon juice.
If you're using avocado, sneak in a slice or deux of avocado on op of each layer. If you're taking this "to go", add the avocado last.
Cover Photo Credit: Stocksy