“Beans! Beans! Good for your heart. The more you eat the more you…”
I’ll be honest, that little song didn’t mean much to me for most of my life because I didn’t eat beans! Aside from the occasional lima bean or green bean, I didn’t eat so much as a chickpea until I was an adult.
When I was a junior in college, I spent a semester abroad in southern Spain and was exposed to dozens of foods I had never eaten before. Since I was a picky eater, I wasn’t exactly excited about this but knew it was a way I needed to grow. I even told my study abroad program I was allergic to seafood, so I wouldn’t have to try any of it!
I remember sitting down for lunch one day, as my host mom, Matilde, served me a big bowl of what looked like tiny, brown flying saucers (got that reference from Rebecca Katz!).
It turned out to be lentil and carrot stew, and I had no choice but to try it (doing anything else was considered rude in Spain). Fortunately, Matilde was so skilled at combining flavors in delicious ways that I tried it and loved it! Now, lentils are one of my favorite foods.
They also happen to be packed with nutrition to fuel your body and brain! Check it out:
- They are PACKED with energy-balancing, weight-stabilizing, fill-you-up fiber. *In fact, lentils fill me up more than any other food I eat.*
- They’re an excellent source of plant-based protein. Green and French lentils are especially high in protein!
- They’re mineral-rich and contain calming magnesium, heart healthy potassium, and are the #1 plant source of folate, which is essential for brain and nervous system function, healthy pregnancy and fetal development, reduced cancer risk and heart health support
- They’re one of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GBOMBS foods, which are some of the most nutrient-packed, anti-inflammatory, disease-preventive foods on the planet.
It’s nice to know that lentils are such a nourishing food, but where do we buy them and how do we cook them?
There are several different kinds of lentils, but the ones I tend to use the most are green lentils, French lentils and red lentils. Red lentils cook much faster but aren’t as firm as the other two kinds and contain less protein, so I don’t use red lentils as much as green we always have them on hand. Our favorite kind of pasta is actually made out of red lentils (one ingredient!) and is made by a company called Tolerant. We find it cheapest at Home Goods, but Whole Foods and MOMs sell it, too.
Every grocery store sells lentils, and you’ll find them either in the international aisle or in the health food aisle. Trader Joe’s also sells several different kinds of lentils, so we end up buying ours there to save a buck or two.
I scoured some of my favorite blogs and pulled together 11 lentil-loving recipes ranging from salads to soups to casseroles. I hope they inspire you to get excited about trying these little filling, fueling legumes!
Red Lentil Hummus by Jo Cooks
Balsamic Lentil Salad from Destination Delish
Curried Lentil & Brown Rice Casserole from Nourishing Meals
Warm Lentil Kale and Potato Salad with Lemon Dijon Dressing from She Likes Food
Lentil & Sweet Potato Stew from Eat Yourself Skinny
Mushroom, Lemon & Lentil Salad from Delicious Everyday
Best Lentil Soup from Cookie & Kate