Have you tried lentils? If you haven’t, you should, and here’s why. These nutritionally mighty legumes are packed with seven essential minerals, B vitamins, proteins and almost no fat. Amazingly, one cup of cooked lentils has only 230 calories. Natural fiber all-stars, lentils lower cholesterol and help manage sugar levels. Their nutty, earthy flavor lends itself well to many dishes, including salads, veggie burgers and soups.
Five Multi-colored Varieties
When it comes to these nutritional powerhouses, you have your choice of colors:
Brown: The most common type in the U.S., they have a down-home, earthy flavor and make a glorious soup (try our recipe below).
Green: Taste peppery and take a bit longer to cook.
Red: This split variety cooks up quickly and is commonly used in Mediterranean, Indian and Middle East recipes.
Yellow: They’re sweet, nutty tasting, quick-cooking and used in dal, a traditional Indian stew.
Black: The most nutritious variety, they have a deep earthy flavor and stand up well in salads.
Promote Healthy Glucose Levels
Here’s another reason to love lentils: they promote healthy glucose levels. In a simple, but revealing study, 48 healthy adults ate a dish of white rice alone or potatoes alone. At a later time, they replaced half the rice or potatoes with large green lentils, small green lentils or half-split red lentils.
Regardless of which lentils they ate, two hours after eating, blood sugar (glucose) levels were 20 percent lower in the rice groups and 35 percent lower in the potato groups compared to those groups that ate the rice or potatoes alone.
Doctors said that they mixed lentils with other carbohydrates to mimic typical eating patterns.
Reference: The Journal of Nutrition; 2018, Vol. 148, No. 4, 535-41.
Hearty Vegan Lentil Soup
Here’s a nutritious lentil soup recipe that has just the right blend of veggies and herbs to give it the perfect depth of flavor. Serve with your favorite sharp cheese, fresh fruit and dark, crusty bread.
Prep time: 15 minutes, Cook time: 30 minutes. Yield: 6 servings
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
2 cups dry lentils (rinsed and picked over)
8 cups organic or homemade vegetable broth
1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup organic spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 tbsp red wine or apple cider vinegar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste.
Directions: In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat, add onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring until onion is tender. Add garlic, oregano, bay leaf and basil. Cook 2 minutes; add lentils, broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, gently simmer for 30-40 minutes or until lentils and veggies are tender. When ready to serve, fold in spinach until it wilts. Season to taste and if desired, add vinegar.