When exploring plant-based meals you quickly realize that while the standard American diet centers around animal products, other cuisines offer endless meal options without meat. When avoiding or reducing animal products, someone may start out thinking “What am I going to eat?” However, soon they find themselves having more foods to choose from than ever before. These meals are often colorful and bursting with flavor, just like this one!
Curry recipes are limitless – the general theme being they all have a complex mix of herbs and spices. This recipe makes flavoring simple by using curry powder, which can be picked up in the spice section at most grocery stores. One important ingredient in curry powder is turmeric.
Turmeric is an Indian spice that has gotten a lot of attention for its potential to prevent cancer growth. Curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric, is the anti-cancer component that has demonstrated health benefits in thousands of studies. Research has shown that curcumin can prevent DNA damage that leads to cancer growth as well as promote cancer cell death. Dr. Michael Greger discusses turmeric extensively in his book How Not to Die.
Let’s talk about some other ingredients that help make this recipe nutrient dense.
Lentils – Often people wonder where they’ll get their protein from if they forgo meat. Really, that’s an unnecessary concern – most Americans get twice the amount of protein they actually need. But, to put your mind at ease.. lentils are a great protein source. They’re also high in fiber, low in fat, and rich in folate. Side note – If you’re sold on lentils, check out our post Nine lentil recipes we love. ???
Leafy Greens – You can go with any leafy green in this recipes – we typically choose kale or chard. Leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses because they score the highest on the nutrient density index. ?? The nutrient density index is an equation that takes the nutrients in a serving of food and divides it by the calories per serving. So, by scoring high, we know that leafy greens are loaded with health-promoting nutrients, while being low in calories.
While this recipe can be enjoyed as is, curry is typically served over cooked brown rice or other whole grains like barley or quinoa. Whole grains are digested slower because they haven’t been processed, therefore they do a good job of keeping you full longer. This prevents overeating and promotes healthy weight management.
Let’s not forget the tomatoes, red onion, butternut squash, and pepper – all of these veggies are different colors. Why does that matter? The phytonutrients (“phyto” = plant) within fruits and veggies give plants their pigment. Different phytonutrients have different pigments. Therefore, by eating lots of different colored plants, you can ensure that you get a wide variety of phytonutrients!
We used this cast Iron pan to make this recipe (*affiliate link).
Plant-Based Squash & Lentil Curry
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 bell pepper, diced any color
- 1 cup lentils, rinsed
- 1 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups water
- 4 large tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cups leafy greens, chopped collards, kale, chard or spinach
- 1 1/2 T curry powder
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander or cumin
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes optional
- Add all ingredients except leafy greens to a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce to low heat and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in chopped leafy greens.
- Serve warm on it's own or over cooked brown rice, barley, millet or quinoa.
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