Greek Lentil Salad and the Vegan Cheese Industry

In honor of Mother's Day...

In honor of Mother's Day...

Happy (belated) Mother's Day to all you wonderful Moms out there! I decided to take last weekend off from recipe developing (and all cooking!) to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather with my little family.  I often think about how lucky I am that my little girl chose me as her mother, but this was on my mind even more this weekend as we celebrated Mother's Day.  She is still too young to understand the meaning of the day but she must have known something was going on because she gave me extra hugs and kisses all day long!  I can't believe how quickly she is growing (she is almost 18 months already!), and as much as I cannot wait to see how she grows and develops over the years, I also want time to stop so I can always have a little girl who gives me the biggest smile first thing in the morning, and gets so excited when I hand her a bowl of fresh berries ("boppies!!"). It feels like just yesterday I was holding my newborn in my arms moments after giving birth to her, but I better stop writing about that because tears are already welling up in my eyes!

So onto this recipe... 
If you haven't used lentils much before, I highly recommend adding them to your diet because 1.) they're cheap 2.) they're extremely healthy and 3.) they are so simple to cook.  Lentils can sub for ground beef in many recipes, they're packed with protein and fiber, and for $1.50 a bag, you can't beat it!

So what makes this salad "Greek" inspired? The flavors from the olive oil, dill, and lemon mimic traditional Greek salads and make this dish super light and flavorful.  A traditional salad would have feta cheese on top, but I subbed my recipe for almond cheese and it turned out fantastic.  If you don't want to make your own almond cheese (its very simple, don't let this intimidate you!), there are numerous vegan cheese brands out there that I highly recommend trying!  I linked a few of them in the recipe, but I also recommend going to Whole Foods Market or another non-conventional market near you and picking up a plant-based cheese you haven't tried before! Every time I go to my local market, I'm blown away by all the alternative cheese options on the shelves; I feel like there is a new one every time I go!  I remember when I first transitioned to a vegan diet, there were maybe two different options for plant-based cheeses, but just four years later and there are at least 10 I can count off the top of my head.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised since the plant-based food industry is projected to reach $2.8 billion in 2016! Keep the vegan food coming!