Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lentils: Dating back 8,000 years sometimes Lentils get overlooked as a powerhouse food

For the Love of Lentils

Lentils. Just the thought of the word makes some people squirm and wince. They are not just another "bean". Lentils are pulses. A pulse is sometimes called a "grain legume". It is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable shape size and color within a single pod. Pulses include: dry beans like pinto, kidney beans, navy beans, dry peas, lentils, and others.

Pulses are important food crops due to their high protein and essential amino acid content. Just like words such as "bean" and "lentil" the word "pulse" may refer to the seed or entire plant.

Archaeologists have discovered traces of pulse production around Ravi River in the seat of the Indus Valley civilization, dating circa 3300 BC, as well as evidence of lentil cultivation in Egyption pyramids and dry seed pods have been discovered in a Swiss village that dates back to the Stone Age. 

Lentils provide protein, complex carbohydrates, and several other vitamins and minerals. Like other plant based foods they contain no cholesterol and very little fat and sodium. Pulses, in general, provide iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc (just to name a few) which play a variety of roles in maintaining good health.

They are 20-25% protein by weight which is  double the content of wheat and triple that of rice alone!They do lack in the essential amino acid called methionine (one of two sulphur containing  proteinogenic amino acids.) Pulses have very significant nutritional and health advantages for consumers. In many poverty stricken countries legume and lentil consumption means the difference between survival and fatalities. 

For People with Diabetes

Consuming lentils, peas, and beans help with glucose management. Compared with some other carbohydrate sources, pulses have a lower glycemic index. Studies have also shown more stable blood glucose levels after meals.

For Weight Management

Although more thorough research is needed in this particular direction, consuming lentils, peas, and beans can help with weight management. For those trying to loose weight, pulses are high in protein, low in fat and moderate in calories. One cup of cooked lentils or dry peas contains about half of the daily fiber recommendation for adults. Foods higher in fiber tend to help people feel more full and satisfied after a meal.

Lentil before flowering

The most common type of lentils are of the brown variety, but be careful- these lentils can get mushy if overcooked. Green lentils are a very popular and flavorful choice. They tend to hold their shape even after cooking. Red Lentils are popular in Indian cuisine, especially in dishes such as dal.

When storing your lentils, be sure not to store them for more than six months. Keep them in airtight containers and mark them with a use by date to ensure freshness. One pound of lentils yields approximately 7 cups of cooked lentils.

Preparing Lentils is Super Easy

Rinse dried lentil in cool water. Drain.
In a large saucepan, combine 1 pound of lentils and 5 cups of water (or a low sodium broth of your desire). Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered. Stirring occasionally. Cook until tender which is approximately 25-30 for brown, green, and yellow varieties. Red Lentils take approximately 5-10 minutes.
Drain excess cooking liquid.
Cooked lentils will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Here is an easy Lentil Recipe

Lentil Quinoa Cakes w/ Feta

25 minutes prep
Makes 14 cakes


1 c. Cooked Lentils
1 c. Cooked Quinoa
1 Egg
2 Garlic Cloves
2 tsp Dried Dill
1/2 c Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil
Tzatziki Dip (Cucumber yogurt dip)

To Make Cakes

Combine Lentils, Quinoa, Garlic, Egg, Feta, and Dill in a food processor or high speed blender. Blend until well combined.
Shape mixture into approximately 14 (1-inch balls).
Roll balls in bread crumbs until covered. Flatten each ball into a patty shape.
Heat Olive Oil in a large non stick saute pan over medium heat.
Add patties and fry until golden brown which is about 3 minutes on each side.
Serve with Tzatziki Dip.

Enjoy and explore your Love for Lentils!!