Have you been drawn to eating more recently? How about craving comfort foods you don’t usually?
You’re not alone. With a lot of unknown in the air, many of us are feeling destabilised. While we aren’t able to fill ourselves with the answers, with what’s going to happen and when it will occur, we can choose to solve this emptiness temporarily with wholesome food.
Did you know that satiety communicates to the body that we’re safe; a feeling many of us are craving at the moment?
In unknown times, you can choose to use food as a tool to bring comfort, and all it involves is choosing wisely. For many people, it’s easy to get caught up in the loop of consuming comfort food, of delivery drivers and sweet treats. You guys know me by now, and I’m not the kind of person to encourage you to stop altogether, however gifting your body with nutritious foods can really lift your energy and mood, too. Fresh and healthy meals can grant a source of comfort; healthy food and tasty food can be mutually inclusive.
If you’re looking for a guide to help you feel your best and enjoy cooking, my FREE two-week guide to stockpiling your pantry may be right for you. Or if you’re keen to support your immunity another FREE resource I’ve created is a 14-Day Supercharge Your Immune Health Pantry List with recipes. The resources are great for singles, couples and families, and you don’t need to be a doomsday prepper to benefit from them, everyone’s welcome!
If you’re looking for a recipe that brings both comfort and nourishment in the same mouthful, my Vegan Lentil Moussaka is the one for you. I assure you it’s tasty like you’re-eager-to get-a-second plate-of-it-after-only-the-first-bite kind of tasty. You know what I mean 😉
If you’ve never heard of moussaka, it’s a traditional Greek dish that’s similar to lasagne but utilises eggplant in place of lasagne sheets. It’s a handy way to sneak extra vegetables into the mouths of those in your household. Moussaka is an extremely warming comfort dish that my family has been enjoying during this lockdown period.
Mince traditionally fills a wholesome moussaka, but after receiving many emails and Instagram DM’s from people who previously bought tinned lentils and beans during panic-buying days and didn’t know what to do with them, I’ve switched things up with this vegan moussaka with lentils.
You don’t have to be a vegan to eat lentils, trust me! When you prepare lentils appropriately, they can be delicious for the meat-eaters and meat-free among us.
So, let’s chat about the humble lentil. Lentils are a high-fibre legume, great for showing love to our digestive system. And remember, a happy gut = a healthy nervous system and a happy mood. This moussaka is also full of vegetables for an extra fibre hit.
Legumes also offer an excellent source of plant-based protein which brings satiety. Protein is necessary for the health of our hormones, muscle and skin health.
Lentils give this moussaka a meaty texture so your household won’t feel like they’re missing out if meat free Mondays sends the troops into meltdown. To make this moussaka even more delicious, I’ve created a sunflower seed cheese topping with nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast contains vitamin B12, another nutrient that can be difficult to obtain on a vegan diet. Vitamin B12 helps create DNA, and a deficiency can cause weakness and fatigue.
If you’re looking for comfort, why not try this Vegan Lentil Moussaka on for size? This deliciously layered baked eggplant dish with lentils and a vegan cheese sauce will bring all the comfort and nourishment you and your family need. Let me know what you think of it in the comments below!
Vegan Lentil Moussaka
When prepared with love and flavour, the humble lentil comes into its own. This moussaka is completely free of all forms of stodge.
1 eggplant (aubergine), sliced
2–3 zucchini (courgettes), sliced
Celtic sea salt
60 ml (2 fl oz/1/4 cup) cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, sliced
1 shallot, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 x 400 g (14 oz) tins diced tomatoes
2 x 400 g (14 oz) tins lentils, drained (soak if preferred for easy digestion)
125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) vegetable stock
2 teaspoons oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sunflower seed cheese
(If you don’t have ingredients or time to make this just use 1 ½ cups grated vegan cheese)
145 g (5 oz/1 cup) sunflower seeds, soaked in water
2 garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
pinch of Celtic sea salt
120 ml (33/4 fl oz) filtered water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes, for topping
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6).
Place the eggplant and zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 30 minutes then rinse off the salt.
Put the eggplant and zucchini on a baking tray and brush with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil then bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until browned.
Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 220°C.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Add the remaining olive oil into a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté the garlic, onion and shallot for 5 minutes, or until browned. Add the apple cider vinegar, tomatoes, lentils, stock, oregano and cinnamon and season to taste. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer over medium–low for about 15 minutes.
To make the sunflower seed cheese if using, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
If you’d like a creamier cheese, add some filtered water to the mix. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up.
To assemble the moussaka, place a layer of the cooked eggplant and zucchini in a 28 x 18 x 5 cm baking dish. Pour a layer of sauce over the vegetables, and then repeat. Top with the sunflower seed cheese (or grated vegan cheese, if using) and scatter over the nutritional yeast flakes.
Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes or until the top is crispy.
Give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments section below.
If you want more great recipes you can purchase Lee Holmes book, “Supercharge Your Life” from The Happy Frog bookshelf instore