Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

My eating habits over the past couple weeks have been less than stellar. As much as I try to eat clean most of the time, some weeks all of that falls to the wayside. I'm especially susceptible to temptation when I'm running errands with the kids, and the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru is just too easy. Or when I taste-test a few too many waffles and pancakes in the name of "recipe development." Or when the kids poop in the tub, you're not home, and your husband ends up scrubbing said tub and two poop-covered toddlers. And then afterwards, he needs feel-good comfort food, so you give in to take-out from Portillo's.

(By the time I came home, he had everything and everyone completely cleaned up. But of course, I couldn't have him eat cheese fries all by himself. Also, maybe I shouldn't talk about poop on a food blog? Oops.)

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

Needless to say, my body isn't loving my recent food decisions. As much as I love to cook, there are plenty of days when it doesn't happen - and this week included a few too many of those days. But, I'm not going to sulk and feel guilty about it. 1. Because Chick-Fil-A waffle fries and homemade pancakes soaked in orange-bourbon syrup are totally worth it. And 2. That was last week.

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

Today is a new day, and it's time for me to get back on track. This slow-cooker curry stew is the perfect way to do that. It's vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and almost Whole30 compliant (just sub the chickpeas for more potatoes or other vegetables to make it a W30 recipe). You can also easily change up the vegetables to use what you have on hand. Sub white potatoes for sweet potatoes. Toss in a bag of spinach instead of kale, or add broccoli florets that need to be used up.

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale | Sarah J. Hauser

So even if you have a rough day with the kiddos, and you end up spending the evening cleaning who-knows-what, you've got a hearty, comforting, clean meal ready to go. 

Of course, no judgment here if you need a few cheese fries, too. 

Slow Cooker Curry Stew with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes + Kale
Adapted from The Kitchn
Yields about 8 servings

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 Tablespoon kosher salt, divided
1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
2 Tablespoons curry powder
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth, divided
2 (15.5 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 (5 ounce) bag kale (or a few big handfuls of chopped kale)
1 (13-14 ounce) can coconut milk

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (a Dutch oven would also work) over medium heat. Add the diced onion and 1 teaspoon of the salt, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and 1 more teaspoon of salt. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the curry powder, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper (if using) to the pan. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in 2-3 tablespoons of the vegetable broth, and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.*

Pour the onion, potatoes, spices, and all the liquid from the skillet into the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the rest of the broth, the chickpeas, bell peppers, tomatoes, black pepper, and the last teaspoon of salt. Give everything a good stir. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3 ½ - 4 hours, or until the potatoes are tender. 

Stir in the kale and the can of coconut milk. Replace the lid and allow cook about 10 minutes more, until the kale is wilted. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

*Note: I have made this recipe by completely skipping the sautéing step, omitting the olive oil, and just tossing the raw onion, potatoes, and spices directly into the slow cooker. It does work and the recipe will still taste good, so that’s an option if you want to cut down on prep time. However, I highly suggest taking the extra few minutes to sauté the onions, potatoes and spices. You’ll get a richer, sweeter, and more flavorful finished dish.

Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail

Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail | Sarah J. Hauser

I made a to-do list at the beginning of the year that included 31 projects to complete by the end of January. They were simple tasks; I wasn’t trying to redo the kitchen or even paint a room. The so-called “projects” involved hanging up one picture or cleaning out one drawer. That was it. Many tasks could be done in less than ten minutes, and some could be done even while my kids were awake.

I just finished that task list a few weeks ago.

Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail | Sarah J. Hauser

I may have been over eight months late on my accomplishment, but I’m still calling it a victory. After all, I finished! Of course, in those eight months, about 253 other projects have come up, most of which I’ve barely started at best.

But I’m learning to be more realistic. I want to set goals and accomplish them. I’m a list maker, and I love checking things off. Sometimes, though, I find too much satisfaction in the check marks.

Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail | Sarah J. Hauser

Today I tried to get laundry done, and while I folded clean laundry, my kids decided the rest of the clean clothes needed to get stuffed down the laundry chute (by the way, why don’t all houses have laundry chutes anymore? Best idea EVER!). Other days, I’ll have a few minutes to throw dinner on the table, and they’ll unroll the toilet paper in the bathroom. One task gets done while toddlers are in the next room adding more to the list.

Often, I lose sight of what’s most important, and I end up believing my value is wrapped up in what I got done in a day. But the reality is, my family is not a box to check off, and my worth doesn’t depend on my lists. 

So today, I’ll make a to-do list like I usually do and work towards getting it done. But if it doesn’t happen? That’s perfectly OK.

Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail

This week, if you're working on a to-do list, celebrating accomplishments or just putting your feet up to relax, make one of these Fig + Vanilla Bean Gin Cocktails! This recipe combines fresh figs with smooth, rich vanilla for a cocktail that bridges the gap between summer and fall. It’s refreshing and comforting all at the same time. Cheers!

Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail
Yields 1 cocktail

1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Fig + Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup (recipe below)
2 dashes orange bitters
2-4 ounces tonic

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gin, simple syrup and bitters. Stir well. Strain into a glass with an ice cube and top with tonic to taste. Garnish with a fresh fig slice. Enjoy!

Fig + Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup
6 fresh figs, stems removed and halved
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or scrape the seeds from 1 vanilla bean)

Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes or until figs break down. Allow to cool, and strain using a fine mesh strainer.

Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Yields about 5-6 ounces of syrup (enough for 10-12 cocktails).*

*Note: This syrup doesn't have to be used only for this drink! Add it to iced tea or drizzle on top of pancakes. You can also make a pitcher's worth of the Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail if you want to serve a crowd!

Mixed Berry Chia Pudding

I meant to get this post up during the month of January when I was focused on Whole30 compliant recipes. But better late than never when it comes to clean eating, right? Especially because I just ate ice cream and popcorn with my lunch (or more accurately, "for" my lunch). The ice cream also may or may not have been eaten directly from the container. Ooof. Not one of my proudest moments.

As much as I love popcorn and ice cream, it's probably best that I don't make them a normal part of my lunchtime rotation. I should have eaten this Mixed Berry Chia Pudding instead. Creamy, nutritious, fruity and dairy-free, so my digestive system will still like me after I eat it (dairy and I don't always get along).

Make a couple jars tonight, and you've got a few quick grab n' go meals for the week. Top it with fresh fruit, nuts, a drizzle of honey (if you're not avoiding added sweeteners) or coconut flakes. You can also swap out the berries for your favorite fruit or change up the spices. Try mango with ginger or peaches paired with nutmeg. Or, switch out the coconut milk for almond milk (I like homemade best to avoid added preservatives).

Mixed Berry Chia Pudding
Yields 2 servings

1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk
1 cup mixed berries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend well. Divide mixture into airtight jars, cover and let sit in the refrigerator overnight (or for a minimum of 3 hours).

Serve chilled or warmed with toppings like unsweetened coconut flakes, almonds or additional berries. Leftover pudding can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Note: If you're not avoiding added sweeteners, this recipe tastes great with a touch of honey or maple syrup blended with it, or drizzled on top at the end!

Cold Brew + Bourbon Cocktail

It's the evening of Thanksgiving. The main course is ending, you're starting to hit that food coma phase but the night is still young. It's time for some dessert in a glass - and the combination of coffee and bourbon couldn't be more perfect. 

Enter Cold Brew + Bourbon Cocktail. Using cold brew concentrate instead of regular coffee ensures the coffee taste won't get lost in the mix, and the maple syrup and nutmeg give this drink its quintessential winter flavor. The bourbon adds just the right amount of warmth and bite for the perfect accompaniment to your holiday feast. 

If you love playing bartender, whip up one or two of these at a time using a cocktail shaker. Alternatively, you can follow the proportions below and mix together a crowd-sized batch. (Local friends, skip making the cold brew and pick up FreshGround Roasting's Black Ice Brew!)

What cocktails are on your holiday menu? I'd love to hear in the comments!

Cold Brew + Bourbon Cocktail
Yields 1 drink

1 1/2 ounces cold brew coffee concentrate* (see recipe below or use FreshGround's Black Ice Brew)
1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce heavy cream
1/2 ounce maple syrup
Ground nutmeg

Add the coffee, bourbon, cream and maple syrup to a cocktail shaker (or other airtight container) with ice. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. Strain out the ice, pour into a glass and top with ground nutmeg. 

Note: If you want to make this to serve a crowd, adjust the recipe using 3 parts cold brew coffee concentrate, 2 parts bourbon, 2 parts heavy cream and 1 part maple syrup.

*Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate

You can easily make cold brew coffee using a Toddy Cold Brewer. However, if you don’t have a Toddy, here’s an alternative method that uses a French Press.

1 cup coarsely ground coffee
4 cups cold water 

Add coffee to a French Press. Pour the cold water over the grounds, ensuring that all of the grounds get wet. Let steep overnight, or for 8-16 hours. After coffee has steeped, use the plunger on the French Press to strain your coffee.

Pour brewed coffee concentrate into a container that can be covered and stored in your refrigerator. Leftover concentrate can be refrigerated for up to two weeks and used to make iced lattes, baked goods and other treats!

This recipe was originally featured on the FreshGround Roasting blog