There are plenty of reasons to love lentils
– but if you’re not totally familiar with this food, it may seem foreign to you. Read on to find out why lentils are the perfect
pantry staple and a welcome addition to many meals!
So, what is
a lentil, exactly? Lentils are considered pulses,
edible seeds from a legume plant. Their cultivation dates back to ancient times; they’re revered around the world today for their nutritional content and culinary versatility (more on both of those below).
One thing to know about lentils: they totally count as a superfood; and better yet – they’re a shelf-stable
superfood! Of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are crucial to a healthy diet. But one thing we do love about lentils is that they won’t wilt, wither or otherwise go unforgotten at the bottom of your vegetable crisper.
Many of us have been forced to take a long glance into the depths of our pantries, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic
of 2020. If your stash of non-perishables is lacking in the protein department, consider adding lentils to your grocery list.
Types of lentils
When selecting lentils, you’ll find that they come in several different colors: brown, green, and red. Your recipe may call for a certain type, but they are all relatively similar.
- Brown lentils are most commonly used due to their mild, earthly flavor.
- Green lentils take the longest to cook and have more of a peppery, robust flavor.
- Red lentils are the sweetest, taking on a nutty flavor. Red lentils take on a different texture when cooked, and for this reason they’re often used in thickening soups and Indian dishes or sauces. (You can also find red lentil pasta!)
How to cook lentils
can be easily prepared in your kitchen using a stove top, pot and water. Unlike other legumes and beans, they do not require soaking ahead of time. But much like dried beans, it’s recommended that you examine, sort and rinse dried lentils before cooking to ensure wholesomeness of the product.
Using a large pot, add 2 cups of lentils to 6-8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently with the lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached about 15-20 minutes. Like I mentioned earlier, green lentils may take a little longer. You can also ‘pan-fry’ lentils to give them a crispier texture. Using a frying pan, add olive oil or avocado oil
, then the cooked lentils and stir lightly for 10 minutes until desired crispiness is achieved.
Are lentils good for you?
Nutritionally, lentils score high. They’re a source of plant-based protein
, which means they contain no saturated fat. (Health tip: Choosing protein with no saturated fat is beneficial for everyone, but specifically for those looking to improve their cardiovascular health.)
Fiber is another factor that goes hand in hand with cardiovascular health as well as diabetes and weight management. It’s really important in controlling hunger and keeping our digestive tract functioning optimally. Lentils contain 9 grams of fiber per ½ cup
which is 32% of your daily value (win!). In addition, lentils are high in folate, potassium, iron and manganese.
Now that you know how to make lentils and why they’re good for you, it’s time to get cookin’! Here are some of our favorite lentil recipes from Vitacost.com and Kroger:
If recent events have taught us anything, it’s that embracing change can be a necessary (and healthy) thing. So why not commit to incorporating these plant-based powerhouses into your diet more consistently? You might just discover a new love of lentils!