Lentils: Protein Powerhouse

standard October 13, 2014 Leave a response

As a plant eater, I am beyond used to the standard “Where do you get your protein?” question. And while, yes, tofu, tempeh, and other processed soy foods have a high amount of plant protein per serving, I prefer to stick to whole food sources, including nuts, seeds, vegetables, and legumes. Yes, legumes. Peas, beans, and lentils are nutrient dense powerhouses, loaded with not only protein, but also a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

Sometimes I forget about the versatility of lentils. They are an easy way to substitute meat in a traditional recipe, but they are also fantastic in salads, soups, and dips. And they are also perfect on their own, which I recently rediscovered when I came across a few dal recipes recently.

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Nutrition:

There are many varieties of lentils, differentiated by color. Black lentils are small. Green or brown lentils are the most common. And red lentils break down very quickly, making them ideal in soups and stews.

One cup of cooked lentils contains about 18 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbohydrates. They are also a rich source of non-heme iron, at over 35% DV per cup, and folate, at almost 90% DV per cup. Potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc round out the significant minerals found in these little nutrient-dense legumes.

Benefits:

The high folate content in lentils aids in prevention of heart disease and birth defects. Their high fiber content helps to keep you full longer, aiding in weight loss and maintenance. As a low glycemic-index food, lentils keep blood sugar low, which also helps in keeping hunger at bay.

Recipes:

Add lentils to a meal with one of these flavor-packed recipes:

Sweet Potato Lentil Curry

standard September 25, 2014 1 response

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Curries scared me for a long time. Then I actually tried a recipe I found on Pinterest that seemed super easy, and it was amazing. I was hooked. I’ve made quite a few different versions since that first easy and delicious one. Some have been better than others. All have different methods of preparation. But they all seemed to have the same simple base: veggies, coconut milk, spices, and usually a protein.

For this simple dish, I used a homemade curry spice mix (from Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life). Any curry spice or even red curry paste would work okay here. I’ve built up a bit of a tolerance to the heat of the spices so I use quite a bit, but start small and taste and add more as you go if you haven’t ventured into curries before.

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Sweet Potato Lentil Curry

Yield: Serves 4

Calories per serving: 495

Ingredients

  • 1 c sweet potato, diced
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1 c eggplant, diced
  • 1 c squash, diced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1-2 T curry powder
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • 1/2 c vegetable stock
  • 1 c cooked lentils
  • 2 c cooked rice
  • 1 T green onion

Instructions

  1. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Cook sweet potatoes until almost tender, about 6-8 minutes.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add eggplant and squash. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, garlic, and ginger. Stir and continue to cook until veggies are translucent and starting to brown.
  3. Deglaze pan with vegetable stock. Add curry powder, tomato paste, and coconut milk and stir to combine. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add lentils and adjust seasonings as necessary. The curry will thicken up quite a bit as the lentils absorb some of the milk.
  5. Serve over rice and garnish with green onion.
http://www.neatandnutritious.com/sweet-potato-lentil-curry/

Nutrition:

Per serving: 495 kcal, 49 g carbs, 30 g fat, 11 g protein, 507 mg sodium, 7 g sugar

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Budget Burgers

standard June 17, 2012 Leave a response

As much as I experiment and try new recipes for things, sometimes an old favorite is the best. I’ve been making these veggie burgers for a while, and they’re easy, fast, freeze well, and best of all, cheap! All you need are lentils, oats, and salsa.

Southwest Lentil Burgers

Makes 8-10.

Print-Friendly Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 c cooked lentils
  • 1 c oats (either quick or old-fashioned are fine)
  • 1/2 – 1 c salsa
  • 1/2 c chopped onion
  • 1 T Arizona seasoning (or chili powder)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • whole wheat burger buns
  • sliced avocado
  • lettuce

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil and a  light amount of cooking spray.
  2. Combine  lentils, oats, salsa, onion, seasoning, and salt in a large bowl until well mixed.
  3. Add 2/3 mixture to a food processor and process until just combined. Pour back into bowl with remaining 1/3 mixture.
  4. Scoop about a palm full of the mixture into your hands, and roll into a ball. Flatten to form patties and place on prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the outside is slightly crispy and hard. The inside of the burger should still be soft and moist.
  6. Serve with avocado and lettuce. Or crumble on to a salad with corn, bell pepper, and diced avocado.

Dry lentils and oats are super cheap, either in the bulk bin or prepackaged. It takes more time to cook dried lentils, but I like to cook a cup and freeze the leftovers for future meals. One cup of dried lentils will yield 2-3 cups cooked. Considering they are high in iron, protein, fiber, and a ton of vitamins and minerals, their cost is an even better value.

These burgers are great as is, on top of a salad, or crumbled as taco filling. It may seem counter-intuitive to form and cook patties just to crumble them back up, but they make a great single serving that freezes and thaws easily for quick meals and portion control. They definitely never last long in my freezer!