Superfood Saturday: Why We’re Loving LentilsArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Lentils may be tiny, but they pack in tons of nutrition. This superfood is part of the legume family because they grow in pods. According to the Mayo Clinic, these pebble-like legumes are high in fiber and protein and low in fat, making them a great substitute for meat. They are also rich in folate, iron, phosphorus and potassium. They cook up soft and tender and can be mixed in a variety of dishes or even served on their own.
You may be surprised to learn that there are many different types of lentils. Some of the most common include red, brown, green and black. The different colors do taste different, so you may want to experiment with different types for various dishes. They also have differing textures and do not cook up the same way. Red lentils are the fastest to cook, but they lose their shape and become mush-like. Therefore, they are more popular for thickening soups and stews, for purees or for certain Indian dishes. The rest of the colors do tend to hold their shape and may be used in a variety of dishes.
They are easy to cook with and can often be a healthy substitute for meat in many different dishes. On the Nutrisystem plan, one-half cup of this superfood cooked counts as one SmartCarb. You’ll find that they are very hearty and can help you feel full and satisfied.
Here are five great ways to fit lentils into your diet:
1. As a Soup
Lentils make a delicious addition to your soup recipes. If you’re looking for an easy recipe, try our Simple Lentil Soup, which also incorporates celery, carrots and onion in a tasty broth. Red lentils work best for thickening your soups or stews, while other color varieties will hold their shape and be more of a bean-like addition.
2. As Part of a Salad
Cooked lentils would make a great addition to some of your favorite salad recipes—significantly boosting the protein content without adding meat! Green lentils (also referred to as French lentils) have more of a nutty flavor and make a nice salad topper. But that’s not to say that lentils must only be used as a topping. You could make lentils your main ingredient, much like a bean salad, and plan the rest of your dish around this tasty legume.
3. Mixed In
There are a lot of creative ways to mix this superfood into your favorite meals. We love the idea of adding lentils to omelets or even using them as a substitute for the meat used in burgers, tacos or stuffed peppers. It’s a great way to reduce your fat intake while still packing in the protein.
4. As a Dip or Spread
You can prepare this superfood as a spread in the same way that you puree chickpeas into hummus. Pureed lentil dips are a unique variation on your traditional hummus and bring a whole different flavor to the table.
5. On Their Own
You can also prepare lentils as a delicious side dish to your main course. They can be prepared with various spices to add even more flavor. Lentils also mix well with veggies like bell peppers and onions to make a more robust side.