Settle into the winter comfort food season

Cold nights are all about fuelling up after a day out in the snow and stocking your spice cabinet can do more than simply add flavour to your meals.

Spiced red lentil and squash stew. Photo: Jodi Kay

by Jodi Kay

After the holidays we tend to fall into our winter routine. We have celebrated and feasted for the past few weeks and now we’re ready for some true comfort food.

Cold nights are all about fuelling up after a day out in the snow and stocking your spice cabinet can do more than simply add flavour to your meals.

Erin Potter of Jade Mountain Wellness suggests eating cinnamon to turn up the internal heat, as it is great for circulation — especially in the hands and feet. “Drinking ginger tea while in the backcountry can also keep the digestion warm and happy,” says Erin.

Cinnamon and ginger and some of my favourite spices, and they can both be used in sweet and savoury ways. One-pot wonders — meals where you can through all the ingredients in a single pot and let it simmer away — are always what I turn to when I want something filling and comforting.

Chilis, stews and curries all fall into the same group. This month we’re cooking up a spiced red lentil and squash stew. The winter market is still abundant with various kinds of winter squashes, but if those run out one day you can always substitute equal amounts of sweet potato.

I love red lentils for their quick cooking time and for the way they just seem to melt into a soup or stew, creating a really hearty meal. Get into the kitchen and stay warm with this cinnamon spiked one pot wonder.

Spiced Red Lentil + Squash Stew


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 1 small red kuri squash or other winter squash (about 4 or 5 cups when diced)
  • 1 + 1/4 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes, or more/less for desired heat
  • 1 796ml can diced tomatoes
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add onion and sauté until soft. Add garlic and squash and sauté, stirring often to prevent burning the garlic and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add a small amount of stock or water to remove any sticky bits on the bottom. Add the red lentils and stir, then add in the spices. Stir to combine then add in the diced tomatoes and vegetable stock.

Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer until red lentils are soft and squash is easily squished with the back of a spoon, about 30–40 minutes.

Using the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher, mash the stew to break up the sweet potato and lentils, I like to keep a few chunks for texture. Serve warm to stay warm.

This article was first published in the January issue of the free Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.