Unexpectedly Delicious: Lentils

History

Lentils are a type of pulse (the edible seeds of legumes), which have such incredible health benefits. For some, they might truly be an unexpectedly delicious item.  For others, like me, it traces back to childhood and one bad experience with a lack-luster lentil soup. However, if you start to explore the big world of cooking with lentils, you might be pleasantly surprised. It’s definitely time for lentil redemption!

Why should you eat lentils?                         

Lentils are a fantastic source of plant-based protein found in the legume family. They are a complex, high quality carbohydrate, rich in fibre and low in fat. They also provide an excellent source of potassium, folate, manganese, and iron. Folate and iron are needed for producing and maintaining healthy red blood cells, making this an excellent food source for individuals following a vegetarian lifestyle.

Nutrition value of 1/2 cup (100g) of dry lentils

  • 26 grams of protein
  • 6 grams of fat
  • 18 grams of fibre
  • 25% of daily potassium requirements
  • 45% of iron needs
  • 50% of recommended folate intake

The wonders of how to enjoy it

Lentils have fantastic versatility – they can be used in soups, stews, salads, even baking.  Lentils are also typically the go-to replacement for ground beef, so use them as a meatless option in any recipe you would typically use ground beef.  If using canned lentils, drain and rinse them and add to your dish. If cooking from dry, they are very easy to prepare as they don’t require any soaking prior to cooking. Just rinse and cook in water until they have reached the desired consistency. Boiling is only one method – you can also grill, roast, bake or fry your favorite type of lentil!

Recipe Ideas

  • Curried Quinoa and Lentil Salad
  • Sautéed Garlic and Tomato Lentil Salad
  • Lentil Taco Casserole
  • Lentil Bolognese
  • Apple Spice Lentil Muffins
  • Lentil Banana Muffins
  • Daal
  • Lentil Meatloaf/Burgers

Did you know that…

Lentils come in a variety of sizes and colours.  Green lentils and split red lentils are most commonly found on the grocery store shelves.  If you are looking for a quick cooking option, split lentils will cook faster than whole, and work well in curries and purees, or as thickeners in soups. Whole lentils work better in salads or where texture is desired. For more recipes, check out www.lentils.ca.