One of the reasons I love eating vegetarian is because it's so healthy. A lot of the vegetarian alternatives to meat are high in vitamins, minerals, and protein, and lentils are no exception.
Lentils are a staple in my diet. I always have them on hand, because they're super versatile, and they're delicious. A pretty normal dinner in my house is a lentil "bowl," where I just cook up some lentils, roast whatever veggies I have at hand, and serve those with either tofu or a poached egg. Simple, quick, and packed with nutrients.
To honor the humble lentil, here are four health benefits of lentils, and one tasty recipe!
1. Lots and Lots of Fiber
Lentils are packed with fiber. Fiber is the indigestible part of plants, and while that may sound bad, it's actually exactly what you need to keep your intestines healthy and moving smoothly.
Lentils contain about eight grams of fiber per serving, so if you need to get things moving, help yourself to some lentils, and you'll be back to normal in no time.
Feeling hungry? You need protein!
Protein is what keeps us feeling full, and for a lot of people, they get their protein through consuming meat. But if you're a vegetarian, you need other options to keep your belly happy.
Enter the lentil. With nine grams of protein per serving, adding lentils to your next meal will help you feel fuller longer.
3. Heart Healthy
Lentils have an extremely low amount of fat in them, which means they're great for your heart! They also contain magnesium, which is great for cardiovascular health.
Studies have also shown that lentils assist in weight management, so eat away without the guilt!
4. High in Iron
If you don't eat red meat, it can be very easy to become anemic, or have low iron. If you've noticed that you're bruising easily, maybe get your iron levels checked out. That could be the cause.
Luckily for vegetarians, iron is found in dark leafy greens (like kale), and also, you guessed it, lentils. Seriously, how can you go wrong with these tiny little legumes?
The next time you run out of ideas for dinner, go with the lentil. Here's a tasty recipe I recommend from AllRecipes.com to get you started!
Red Lentil Curry
Tip: I love red lentils, because the cook up so quickly. Other varieties of lentils can take up to forty minutes to cook, but red lentils cook in around fifteen. Which is perfect if you don't want to spend forever in front of the stove.
Add some tofu to this recipe, and you have a meal fit for a (vegetarian) king!
- 2 cups red lentils
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons curry paste
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 (14.25 ounce) can tomato puree
- Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear. Put lentils in a pot with enough water to cover; bring to a boil, place a cover on the pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, adding water during cooking as needed to keep covered, until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook and stir onions in hot oil until caramelized, about 20 minutes.
- Mix curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger together in a large bowl; stir into the onions. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato puree, remove from heat and stir into the lentils.
What are your favorite ways to cook lentils? Or what's your favorite vegetarian recipe? Share with us; we'd love to hear it!