The perfect side dish for your grilled meats or protein-packed addition to lunchtime salads, these delicious nutrition superstars can be served hot or room temperature.
They’re earthy, tangy without being sour, and somewhat addictive. Well, maybe not addictive like french fries, but, as far as healthy foods go, these lentils will have you coming back for more. And more.
If you are avoiding beans & lentils because you think they’re too “starchy,” you’ve got it all wrong. These delicious little powerhouses can be a regular part of a healthful diet & are especially great during pregnancy & postpartum. Replacing a serving of other carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, bread, etc.) with a serving of lentils is a smart choice, not just for variety but for your waistline.
One cup of cooked lentils provides
- 18 grams of protein
- 16 grams of fiber
- 40 grams of carbohydrate
- 37% of the RDA for iron (something women, especially pregnant women, can easily become deficient in)
- 90% of the RDA for folate (something you’re buying in vitamin-form if you’re taking prenatal or maternal vitamins)
…plus magnesium, potassium, B-vitamins, zinc, copper & more.Phew. And that’s for just 230 calories.
Ask your french fries if they can do that.
Those 40 grams of carbohydrates behave much differently from, say, the 40 grams of carbohydrates in a small serving of french fries, because they come packaged as nature intended with tons of fibre & protein to slow down absorption. Not only will lentils NOT spike your blood sugar, potentially fuelling weight gain, they will keep you supremely full. French fries, sadly, will not.
In fact, lentils & other legumes outrank potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, bread, and just about any “starch” you can imagine when it comes to health benefits.
If you’ve heard they’re “hard to digest” or worry about bloating… or maybe you’ve gone Paleo & are afraid they’ll tear apart your gut lining with their “anti-nutrients…” RELAX. Soaking & cooking legumes makes them perfectly digestible. Their insoluble fibre scrubs your intestines clean as it makes its voyage and can occasionally cause a bit of gas. But eating them somewhat regularly tends to remedy this side effect, and soaking & cooking them properly is also key.
Ready to get started with lentils? Here’s how to do it. And how to love it. This recipe reignited my love of legumes. It’s especially amazing served warm, topped with a runny poached egg but equally satisfying room temperature and added to a bed of arugula with some leftover roasted veggies.
- 1 cup french (le puy) lentils, rinsed
- 3 cups water (plus more for soaking)
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled but not minced
- 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- zest & juice of 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- fresh black pepper
- Soak lentils in medium pot with 3-4 cups water for 12-24 hours. (If you know your body to be sensitive to legumes, you can soak for even 48 hours, changing the water out once or twice to continue removing the potentially irritating lectins.)
- Drain, rinse, & return to pot; add water, bay, garlic, & worcestershire, and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20-3 minutes until lentils are softened but not mushy.
- Drain lentils & remove bay leaves.
- Add lemon zest, juice, olive oil, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir & crush cooked garlic cloves as you combine.
- Stir in parsley & additional olive oil, if deserved, before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- You could probably skip the soaking and use canned no-sodium green lentils. Rinse thoroughly & saute with bay leaves & garlic for a few minutes instead. I've never done it but I'm sure it would still taste lovely, if slightly different in texture from the "fancy" Le Puy lentils.
- Red lentils are great for curries and soups where smoothness is desired, but they don't hold their shape like brown/green/french lentils and are not best for salads and sautés.