Food for Mood 5: Adding spice to your life with Dahl and rice

This week’s recipe is a quick and easy dhal and brown rice recipe to add in herbs and spices. The dish included in-tact wholegrains (brown rice) with bags of fresh herbs + peas plus the easy to cook red lentils that are great prebiotics and a good source of protein with orange and green vegetables.

Eating a diverse rainbow of colourful foods with added herbs and spices everyday gives our bodies a range of antioxidants, polyphenols and fibre to keep our gut health in tip top shape supporting our mood and giving us energy. Spices, such as garlic, ginger, turmeric and chilli contain potent medicinal properties that offer a range of health benefits. They support our immune system (you’ll get less colds and seasonal bugs and reduce your cancer risk) keep our vascular system healthy (helping our brains and heart work effectively), support our brain function and detoxification (to help cognition, focus, memory and vitality) plus they taste great (we feel good when we eat tasty food!).

Brown rice

  • Lower to a simmer and cover pot.
  • 1 cup of brown rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • Fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dahl

  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ red onion
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or grated)
  • Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1 red or green small chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped into cubes
  • 125g of red lentils
  • 100g of spinach (or kale or spring greens) chopped – you could buy frozen too#
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced all the way to the green
  • Fresh Thai basil or coriander (chopped just before serving)
  • 300ml of vegetable stock



  1. Rinse rice thoroughly – you can soak it overnight or 20 + minutes before cooking.
  2. Cook brown rice like pasta as it won’t disintegrate like white rice.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then add your rice with a pinch of salt.
  4. Cook for 20-30 minutes depending on type of rice and if you have soaked it (taste after 20 minutes: the husk should have burst open, but still a nutty bite to the rice).
  5. Add frozen peas during the last 1-2 mins.
  6. Then drain rice – let it sit in sieve over pot for 2 minutes to drain all the water
  7. Throw out any remaining water in pot, then return rice to the pot
  8. Mix through so rice and peas combined
  9. Add lemon zest, a bit of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, chopped fresh chives


  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wide-based pan with a tight-fitting lid.
  2. Add 1 finely chopped red onion and cook over a low heat for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until softened.
  3. Add 1 crushed garlic clove, a finely chopped thumb-sized piece of ginger and 1 finely chopped red chilli, cook for 1 min, then add 1½ tsp ground turmeric and 1½ tsp ground cumin and cook for 1 min more (or curry powder).
  4. Turn up the heat to medium, add 2 sweet potatoes, cut into even chunks, and stir everything together so the potato is coated in the spice mixture.
  5. Wash your lentils thoroughly. Put red split lentils in and stir thoroughly for a couple of minutes
  6. Add 300ml vegetable stock and some seasoning.
  7. Bring the liquid to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20-25 mins until the lentils are tender and the potato is just holding its shape.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then gently stir in the chopped spinach or spring greens or kale.
  9. Let the greens wilt for a few minutes.
  10. Then top with some of the sliced spring onions and ½ pack torn basil leaves or chopped coriander leaves to serve.
  11. Cool leftover s & then divide between airtight containers and store in the fridge for a healthy lunchbox or freeze for up to three months.

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