What are your favorite lentil recipes and why should you eat lentils each day?
Did you know...
Lentils are tiny powerhouses of nutrition. No matter what stage in life-- childhood, adulthood, pregnancy, senior-care-- lentils are an easy way to get your nutrition.
Your body will love lentils. Your taste-buds will too (spoiler alert: they’re delicious).
Adding to the great news about lentils-they’re cheap!
You can meet your daily nutritional values without breaking the bank. Health on a budget.
Not only will it make you feel good inside, but it could also actually make you look great on the outside too! Lentils have the power to build healthy skin, nails, hair, and teeth. Who knew that such a small lentil could change your life so much?
Nutritional Value of Lentils
Did you know, your cells actually crave lentils? They pack a punch with what I like to call “happy vitamins”– B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, and lots of zinc.
Add to that potassium, iron, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, just to name a few.
Here are among the other nutrients you can find in lentils:
My favorite nutrient to talk about because of its effects. In fact, if you are following me on Youtube Fiber and Protein are the two nutrients I preach almost in every video and Grocery Discover. I am becoming the Queen of Fiber. You can check it out here. Fiber is a major player in losing weight and keeping weight off. It turns out that Americans aren’t even eating close to the suggested amount of fiber each day!
Like most of us know, fiber is also key in maintaining regular bowel movements. Because of this, it can also prevent colon cancer and other diseases associated with the digestive tract.
But fiber goes way beyond just digestive system health. Fiber also helps lower the risk of dangerous diseases like diabetes. It can also lower cholesterol levels and lead to having a healthier heart and a longer life. Who doesn’t want that?
Lentils are a great source of polyphenols--which are compounds in foods that can help you fight certain diseases like type 2 diabetes. It does this by lowering your blood sugar levels. It can also improve insulin sensitivity, which is your body’s natural way of handling high blood sugar.
Polyphenols can also make your heart happier. Studies suggest that they act as antioxidants to reduce inflammation, which is a serious cause of heart disease.
Having a regular diet of polyphenols might also lower your risk of cancer! Studies show that polyphenols can block cancer cells from growing! Sounds like a miracle nutrient to me.
Have you ever eaten a lot, but still feel hungry only an hour later? That’s because your meal was lacking in protein. Protein helps you eat less but feel full for longer.
This is why protein-rich diets can help you lose weight and keep it off! All without that hungry feeling that makes fad diets so difficult. Feel full and happy without the weight gain by eating more protein.
It also helps to build strong muscles. Eating a meal rich in protein before you have daily exercise is a great way to get toned muscles. Lentils are a great vegetarian source of protein!
In our Treasures of Healthy Living Bible study the three principles make it simple to distinguish healthy foods and foods that will deliver high-quality fiber and protein.
I like to call these vitamins the “Be Happy Vitamins” because they’re so essential to our body functioning correctly. One of their biggest impacts is by increasing energy levels! Along with a good night’s rest, a diet rich in B vitamins will stop that groggy feeling that makes us reach for the coffee.
Another great benefit of the B vitamins is their ability to help with cell metabolism. This means that they help with the processes that help our bodies function, and use the energy that we get from food.
Magnesium is essential to the endless amount of reactions that are happening in your body every second. These reactions are in charge of helping you function and stay healthy. Some of those important reactions include turning food into energy, creating proteins from amino acids, and DNA repairment.
On top of these reactions that are necessary for you to stay alive, they can also help your life be more enjoyable by improving exercise performance. No matter your level of activity, magnesium can help you increase your performance. Walking longer in the neighborhood, biking longer with your family, or swimming for longer in the pool. Whatever it is, magnesium can help you do it better.
Your body doesn’t naturally produce zinc, so this one is essential to get through diet. The best benefit of zinc intake is a boosted immune system. More zinc can help you fight off colds and viruses faster. Even if you do get sick, zinc can help decrease the length of your cold.
Zinc is also a good way to speed up the wound healing process. Any type of cut, ulcer, or scar can heal faster by increasing zinc in your diet.
Cooking Different Types of Lentils
Who knew there were so many different types of lentils? Here’s all you need to know about the ways cooking lentils can differ:
Brown and Green Lentils
These are the most common types of lentil. There’s a good chance these are what your mind immediately goes to when you think about lentils.
They take around 20-30 minutes to cook and usually fall apart a little bit. That fallen-apart texture is actually delicious in some meals, but not for others. Avoid using these in something like a salad. Instead, make them your new favorite ingredient in soups.
Similar to the brown and green lentils, these get mushy after cooking. They take about 20 minutes and are perfect for Indian dishes. Don’t be afraid of the mush but use these lentils to make the perfect curry.
These fancifully named lentils are quite different from their cousins--brown, green, and red. Instead of falling apart, they retain their shape and texture after being cooked through. This means that they’re perfect for sides and salads. However, it also means longer cooking times. Around 40-50 minutes is the perfect time to check on them.
Cooking Tips for Lentil Recipes
- Rinse your lentils with fresh water before boiling to remove any dust or debris.
- Cook on a stovetop, using 3 cups of liquid (water, stock, etc) to 1 cup of dry lentils. Be sure to use a large enough saucepan as the lentils will double or triple in size.
- Bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer until they are tender.
Additional Tips to Remember
- For whole lentils, cook time is typically 15-20 minutes.
- For split red lentils, cook time is typically only about 5-7 minutes.
- Be sure to season with salt after cooking – if salt is added before, the lentils will become tough.
How to Cook Canned Lentils
- Canned lentils are also another great time-saving option – just be sure to rinse them under fresh water for about one minute in order to reduce the sodium content.
- Lentils do not require soaking like other pulses.
Visit my recipe to make your own Lentil Detox Soup!