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Cooking with Lentils

August 29, 2017 by Joanna Drake, Registered Dietitian

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Cooking with Lentils

Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot.
The more you toot, the better you feel, so eat your beans at every meal.

As a child, that song was pretty much the first thing I learned about beans. While this knowledge made them somewhat appealing, the only beans I had tried were kidney beans in chili and recipes with chickpeas. Lentils, another member of the legume family, were not in my family’s repertoire.

Over the years, my interests have matured (slightly) and my priorities have shifted. In recognizing the benefits of following a plant-based diet, I’m always looking for new and delicious ways to add more legumes.

When I first started using lentils, I had to get over an elusive fear. I had no experience with them and couldn’t imagine what I’d put them in. Taking a bag of dried anything and making it taste good seemed like too much time and work. But as it turns out, I learned that cooking lentils is actually really quick and easy.

Rinse and boil. That’s it! Whole lentils take 15-20 minutes and split lentils take only 5-7 minutes. After that, they can be used in more ways than you probably thought possible.

Beyond their surprising ease of cooking, there are many reasons to eat lentils. Nutritionally, they have a lot going for them. They are high in fibre and protein, and low in fat. They are good sources of potassium, folate, and iron. And compared to other legumes, they’re a lot less gassy.

I feel a little bit like Bubba talking about shrimp in the movie Forrest Gump when I list the many ways lentils can become part of your meal plan, but here are just a few ideas and lentil recipes to get you started:

At breakfast

Added to salads

As part of main dishes

In soups & stews

To be honest, it feels a bit unfair to stop there. I mean, why didn’t I mention One-Pot Penne with Lentil Ragout or Lentil Mushroom Spinach Stuffed Peppers? Check out more lentil recipes at any of these sites:
     Canadian Lentils, Recipes
     Pulse Canada, Pulses and the Gluten-Free Diet, Cooking with Beans, Peas, Lentils and Chickpeas
     Cookspiration

Is anyone else hungry right now? What lentil recipe appeals most to you? Which are you going to try first?

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Related blogs

Beans, Lentils and Peas Oh My!

Recommended resources

Lentils.org
Foodnetwork.ca
Lentils.org: Dietitian Info Sheet
Eat Right Ontario: All About Lentils

References: CNF 3393 Lentils, boiled
Per 175 mL serving: 6.2g fibre, 13.2g protein, 4.9g iron, 540mg potassium, 265mcg folate
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