What is the highlight of Christmastime for you?  There’s no doubt for me that it’s seeing family and friends to celebrate, enjoy good food together and unwrap fun surprises from under the tree.  Seeing the kids delight in their gifts is such a joy.  I also enjoy tinkering in my kitchen and am delighted to use my mortar and pestle - the marble bowl and rod that allows you blend herbs and spices together…amongst other things.


I love using herbs and spices as they not only excite your senses with robust aromas and flavors, but they impart a whole bevy of health-related benefits for your heart, brain, eyes, digestion, immunity and the list goes on and on.  What a great way to connect with food by grinding, mashing and pulverizing herbs and spices, nuts, seeds and even avocado with your two hands!

Think of the possibilities: aromatic rubs for meat, poultry and seafood, savory and sweet seasonings for roasted veggies, flavorful pesto for pasta and creative blends for cocktails.  Whatever flavor combo you dream up, crush it with a mortar and pestle.  And there’s no heavy lifting, just a little elbow grease required.

Today, I am going to round up a bunch of flavorful ingredients and create a nut and spice concoction with green lentils - and put my mortar and pestle to work, too.


Coriander has a delightful aromatic scent, just like its leafy sibling, cilantro.  Coriander is used in many Moroccan, Indian and Mediterranean dishes to impart a unique intensity.  When you pulverize these seeds, you realize how much of their personality is locked in the seeds waiting to be released.

Next, I gathered some black mustard seeds.  These tiny black seeds look like chia seeds on the outside, but once you grind to the inside their yellow color explodes.


The juxtaposition of the yellow inside with the black outer skin is beautiful.  I am inspired to make my own mustard now.  I love mustard - it’s such a low-calorie way to add a boost of flavor to food.  Once these are crushed, I am going to add them to my cooked lentils.



I adore lentils as they are jammed with fiber (14 grams per 1/4 cup!) - that’s half of the fiber you need in a day.  Plus, these legumes are high in protein, complex carbs (which does not spike blood sugar) without fat or sodium - and they are packed with folate and magnesium, too.   The beauty of this type of dish is that you can add whatever herbs, spices or nuts you’d like.  It’s simple, quick and you can make it ahead of time and enjoy later in the day or the next day.



Serves 2 (3/4 cup each)


1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and drained

2 cups, low-sodium vegetable broth or water

1/4 cup walnut halves, ground

1 teaspoon coriander seed, ground

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds, ground

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon small capers (optional)


Put lentils and liquid into a medium pot and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to simmer and cover.  Cook until all liquid is dissolved and lentils are soft.  Mix in walnuts, coriander, black mustard seeds, paprika, olive oil and capers, if desired.  Stir until combined and serve warm.

Nutrition Information(per serving):Calories: 200, Total Fat: 11 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 34 mg, Carbohydrates: 18 g, Dietary Fiber: 9 g, Sugars 1 g, Protein: 9 g

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