Crockpot Lentil Veggie Chickpea Stew
My new favorite Sunday activity (besides watching football and being an absolute couch potato) is making an entire crockpot of goods that can serve as lunch or dinners for the week. With a crazy schedule, putting time aside once a week to make a large batch of food can be really helpful! I am in no way a meal prepper - especially because I often think “Meal Prep” can be looked at more as a rigid way to diet and dictate the food we eat on a daily basis, rather than help prepare us for a busy week by having some staples on hand. But when we meal prep ingredients or foods with the intention of making things EASIER and less so “healthy” - that is a meal prep I am all about. (more on this thought in my awesome friend’s blog post, here).
Now before I verge off topic … this Lentil Veggie Chickpea Stew was a perfect way to cozy up my lunches and add extra legumes and vegetables into my day. Another reason I made this was because I have been craving lentils and chickpeas - but generally have a tough time digesting these. I never really experimented with lentils due to this, but after some research and understanding of my own digestion - I realized that cooking and soaking lentils can make a world of a difference.
Why Soak Lentils and Other Legumes?
Soaking lentils, nuts, beans, etc. can actually improve how we digest and absorb these foods. These foods have an outer layer to them that helps them protects them before sprouting. Once these seeds and legumes are watered (think watering plants!), they are able to fully sprout into a plant. Without letting them soak in water, we aren’t allowing them to sprout - which leads to tougher digestion and more work on our own digestive system as well as make their nutrients less bioavailable. To soak lentils and other legumes - simply place in a bowl/pot of cold water overnight, or even for a few hours. This will make a huge difference on how your body reacts once eaten.
Another major help to my digestion is having vegetables, lentils and beans cooked. This recipe lets them cook for hours, really helping in breaking down the fibers and making it easier for my sensitive stomach to digest.
Now the important part …. to make this crockpot hearty dish:
1 cup of Lentils (soaked in water, enough to cover)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp of oil
4-5 large carrots, washed and cut into small pieces
Small bag of Fingerling potatoes, cut
Baby bella mushrooms
1 can of Chickpeas, rinsed OR can buy garbanzo beans and soak these as well
3 cups/large handfuls of chopped kale
1 jar of organic, sugar-free tomato sauce (I used a brand from Whole Foods that was on sale, but my favorite brand is Rao’s Homemade)
~1 cup water (from soaked lentils) OR vegetable broth for even more flavor
Spices: salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder
Hours before cooking, soak lentils in large pot with cold water (enough to cover)
Turn crockpot on high for 3-4 hours or low for about 6-8 hours
Start cooking chopped onion in oil until translucent. Once translucent, add soaked lentils (and water) and let boil in crockpot for about 20 minutes
Add rest of ingredients (Except for Kale) and jar of sauce and let sit for 3 or 6 hours (depending on temp) checking and stirring occasionally
Once cooking well (can fork the potatoes or taste the lentils for tenderness), add in kale and let cook through
Add dashes of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder (~1/2 tsp each estimate)
Continue stirring for last 10-15 minutes and turn off!
Can enjoy - by itself as a thick soup/stew, over brown rice, over pasta, or with other cooked vegetables for even more nutrients!