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If you’re looking for a warm, comforting bowl of healthy goodness on these cold winter days, look no further. This easy-to-make Roasted Fruit with Spiced Dal is not only a super protein-packed way to start the morning (or end a day) but it’s also gluten-free, has no added sugar, and can be adapted to your favorite seasonal fruits.
This idea of fruit with dal sprang from necessity back in October. Yes, it’s a bit of a strange combo, but I had just started a new healthier eating plan. For the first month I was supposed to avoid all carbs. Yep, you heard me. No fun right? So I was bummed to say the least when my go-to breakfast of oatmeal and fruit became verboten. Who can find fault with a hearty bowl of oatmeal and all the fixin’s? Well, perhaps it’s the “fixin’s” that may have become a wee bit excessive and got me into trouble! At any rate, I was going to be good and stick to the “plan”, so I needed to find a tasty substitute that would come close to my oatmeal bowl–just with more protein and less sugar. And since any and all kinds of legumes were A-OK on the Doc’s list, thought I’d start there.
[Masoor Dal (lentil)]
Ultimately, I decided on Masoor Dal as my “oatmeal” base because if you slightly overcook the dal (I mean just a tad, nothing crazy here), it will fluff up and give you a texture similar to that of oats. I liked its bright orange color too and thought it would work well with the autumnal spices and fruits. Dal or lentils are an edible pulse, which is part of the legume family. These tiny seeds pack a mighty punch with about 30% of their calories from protein. They have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp. The neutral flavor of the seed allows whatever spices or seasonings you’re using to come through in the dish. To make it work with the baking spices and fruit, I opted to go with the aromatic notes of India: Cardamom, Star Anise and Cinnamon. This trio is a perfect way to infuse flavor into an otherwise bland pulse.
Next the roasted fruit. This is so simple. I make a sheet tray at a time and then I can re-warm it throughout the week with the dal, or just on its own for a snack. I always like to include apples as they are so good for you plus they hold up well when roasting. My preference is Granny Smith as I like the tartness paired with the baking spices— we’ll get to those next.
I usually add one Honey Crisp or Braeburn too. The only variety I would avoid is Red and Yellow Delicious. They are softer-fleshed varieties and will get too mushy when roasting. Here I used Red Barletts but you can use any pear (just be sure it’s firm, not overripe). Try Asian Pear or Fuyu Persimmons too. In the summer, try a mix of nectarines, peaches, apricots and plums. The combinations are endless. For some texture and slight sweetness, I added these little nuggets: dried cranberries and my new favorite baking condiment: crystallized ginger chips from The Ginger People. You’ve seen me use these before, love these tiny morsels!
Then before roasting, I finished it off with small pieces of chilled butter and an assortment of baking spices such as ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, and pumpkin pie spice. But use whatever spices you like, make it your own.
1 cup masoor dal (orange lentils)
2 cardamom pods, slightly crushed to release inner seeds
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of fine sea salt
Rinse and drain dal well. Add to medium sauce pan. Fill with enough water to cover the dal by about 2 inches. Add in cardamom pods, star anise, cinnamon stick and salt. Bring to a low boil over med-high heat and cook covered for 8-10 minutes. (Lentils cook fast so keep an eye on them so they don’t overcook). Cool and serve with Roasted Fruit or on its own with brown sugar or honey.
2 green apples (granny smith)
2 pears ( red bartlett, bosch, or d’anjou)
1 red apple (honey crisp, braeburn or pink lady)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crystallized ginger chips
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 stick unsalted butter, chilled and diced
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a standard sheet pan with foil. Cut fruit into medium-size chunks and spread out on sheet pan in an even layer. Add cranberries and ginger chips and toss gently to distribute evenly. Gently mix in all spices. Top with butter pieces. Bake at 375F for 35-45 minutes, or until fruit is tender and slightly browned. Spoon over spiced dal and enjoy!