Lentil Curry with Rhubarb & Fennel

It’s springtime! Time to get inspired by our early seasonal crops. Rhubarb is one of our early spring veggies. I have always shied away from using this nutritious vegetable as it is very sour. Rhubarb is often used in desserts with the addition of a lot of sugar. I didn’t want to go down that route. I was determined to make a rhubarb dish without the addition of any sweetener. So–savory was the way to go. I looked at various ways to use rhubarb in savory dishes. After perusing a few different recipes, I came up with this dish–inspired by the use of lentils with rhubarb. It’s quite a tasty dish and the rhubarb is barely detectable (but you still get the health benefits). I prepared this for the first time at work this week and I got really great reviews. Customers were as surprised as I was at how well the rhubarb worked in this recipe. Success!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon brown/black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
½ cup chopped fresh rhubarb
½ cup chopped fresh fennel
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 small–medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup French lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped fresh greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
2 cups vegetable broth*

* Add more water/broth if needed

Heat oil in a medium-size saucepan over low–medium heat. Add mustard seeds. Cover pot and cook for 1–2 minutes, or until seeds begin to pop (mustard seeds will become aromatic). Stir in ginger, garlic, onion, rhubarb and fennel. Cook for 5–10 minutes until vegetables soften and begin to caramelize. Stir in curry powder, then add sweet potatoes, lentils and greens. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25–30 minutes, until lentils are soft (cook them well) and water is absorbed. Serve warm or hot. Serves 2–4.

Health Benefits of Rhubarb

Weight Loss: Rhubarb is one of the lowest caloric vegetables on the market, and as such, it is often recommended for people who are struggling to lose weight, but still want to remain healthy. 100 grams of rhubarb contains only 21 calories, so feel free to load up on the rhubarb without packing on any pounds. The impact that the various organic compounds in rhubarb have on the body’s metabolism can also dramatically increase the rate that the body burns fat, thereby helping you lose weight in another way!

Cardiovascular Diseases: Rhubarb is extremely low in fat and cholesterol, the vegetable poses no threat to cardiovascular health, and it can actually increase the levels of good cholesterol due to the presence of dietary fiber, which is known to scrape excess cholesterol from the walls of blood vessels and arteries. Furthermore, the impressive amounts of antioxidants in rhubarb ensure that free radicals don’t cause heart disease and a wide range of other dangerous health conditions.

Digestion: Our digestive system plays a huge part in our overall health, so it is important to keep the digestive system healthy and regulated. The high amount of dietary fiber found in rhubarb can guarantee a healthy digestive system by bulking up stool and making sure that bowel movements are smooth and regular. Rhubarb has traditionally been used as a cure for constipation, but it was only recently discovered why it had such a powerful effect. By easing constipation and other digestive issues, you can prevent a wide range of more serious gastrointestinal disorders, including bloating, cramping, and even colorectal cancer.

Alzheimer’s Disease: The most prominent vitamin in rhubarb is actually vitamin K, and while it doesn’t often get as much attention as some of the other vitamins, Vitamin K plays a very significant role in brain and neuronal health. It can prevent the oxidation of brain cells and stimulate cognitive activity, thereby helping to delay or even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Bone Health: Along with its role in protecting the brain from neural degeneration, vitamin K also promotes osteotrophic activity, meaning that it stimulates bone growth and repair. Combined with the rich amount of calcium and other minerals found in rhubarb, the vegetable as a whole is a major player in bone protection.

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