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I am loving all that the fall-winter season has to offer: winter squashes and sweet potatoes, fall fruits like clementines and pears and apples, brussels sprouts and greens like kale and chard that thrive in the cooler temps.

I got home late from work tonight, so I popped a couple sweet potatoes in the oven at 400 to roast while I did a balance ball workout DVD (courtesy of GAIAM – big shout-out to those folks!). By the time I was finished 45 minutes later, I had a nice piping hot sweet potato that I topped with some coconut butter (an excellent non-dairy butter substitution) and cinnamon. I had a mixed green salad with avocado and olive oil-balsamic topped with leftover lemon-herb rotesserie chicken I bought from Whole Foods to eat on for the week.

Took me all of 10 minutes to throw dinner together tonight: way less time than take-out! A little advance planning for the week goes a long way. Tomorrow I’ll make a lentil-chicken sausage-kale stew. Here’s the recipe. Also a great one to prepare and eat on for a couple days. The addition of curry powder adds a lovely flavor and curry powder contains tumeric, a potent anti-inflammatory/anti-oxidant herb, thought to ease joint pain and enhance digestion and liver health.

Lentil-Sausage Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves crushed garlic
5 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (can use a little of both)
1 large bunch Swiss chard or kale, tough stalks removed, coarsely chopped (about 12 cups)
1 pound lentils, red or green (about 2 1/4 cups)
1 pound chicken sausage (can use less)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper
Bay leaf (optional)
Spring water if needed

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sausage; sauté until golden, about 5-7 minutes. Rinse the lentils and cull them for small stones and debris. Add to pot; add broth. Mix in curry and cayenne, salt, pepper.

Reduce the heat and cook at a lively simmer for about 1 hour, stirring from time to time to prevent the lentils from burning. Add water as needed if liquid cooks down too quickly. After about 40 minutes (when lentils are not quite done but almost), add chard or kale. It will cook down quickly. When the lentils are cooked and the chard is tender, serve piping hot in bowls. Top with yogurt if desired. Delicious.

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