Lovely Lentils, The Nutritional Powerhouse

red lentils in a wooden spoon on a background of lentils

If you’re looking for a nutritional powerhouse, look no further than the lovely lentil.  These tiny jewels are easy to cook and packed full of good-for-you stuff.

Per one cup of cooked lentils you’ll get 35% of your DV (daily value) of protein, 89% DV of folate, 36% DV of iron, plus a whopping 62% DV of fiber.  And that’s not even getting into the B6, B1, potassium and zinc in lentils.  There is even evidence that suggests they can help in managing blood sugar levels, since their high fiber content digests slowly.  And at just 230 calories for a whole cup, they will fill you up–rather than out!

Lentils are legumes like kidney beans or navy beans, and grow in pods that contain either one or two lentil seeds. They’re classified according to whether they are large or small, and come in dozens of varieties including green or brown, black, yellow, red and orange. These round, oval or heart-shaped disks are small in size, sometimes even smaller than the tip of a pencil eraser, but when cooked, have a savory, nutty taste that is hearty and dense.

Unlike other legumes, lentils take much less time to cook, too.  Lentils can be cooked without overnight soaking, so they can be prepared in well under an hour and generally in only about 30 minutes.

Quick Lentil Dinner

1 lb. dried lentils, sorted and rinsed

2 large tablespoons roasted garlic

2 large tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

8 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup brown rice

Salt and pepper to taste

In a cast iron dutch oven, or other heavy pot, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat until the garlic begins to sizzle.  Add onion, lentils, seasonings, and saute gently until onion softens, about 2 minutes.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Add rice and return to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 25 minutes, or until stock is absorbed and rice is cooked.  Stir and serve.

Other Ways To Enjoy Lentils

  • Combine cooked lentils with chopped sweet peppers, and your favorite herbs and spices to make a delicious cold salad.
  • Toss together buckwheat soba noodles, cooked lentils and cooked broccoli florets with olive oil, garlic and ginger.
  • Make Moroccan Lentil Soup using cooking lentils, vegetable broth and diced vegetables of your choice. Season with coriander, cumin, turmeric, soy sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

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