Bowls of cereal grain

What are lentils?
Lentils are small, round seeds that are part of the legume family of plants (also known as pulses). They grow in pods similar to beans and peas. I often refer to them as the “no-soak, quick cooking” pulse. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, folate, iron, and potassium. In comparison to other plant-based proteins, they are

26% protein, making them the third most protein-dense whole food after soybeans and hemp seeds.

Quick facts about lentils:
Protein-packed: 1/2 cup cooked lentils contains at least 9 gram of protein (more than an eggs worth) depending on the variety.
Fiber Rich: each 1/2 cup serving contains 8 grams of fiber–about 25% of your daily needs
Fast-cooking: Cooks in about 10-30 minutes, depending on the variety and desired texture.
Cheaper alternative to meat and other meat alternatives: Lentils cost on average $1-$4 per pound, compared to $3-$7 per pound of boneless chicken breast. Organic, heirloom varieties tend to be more expensive.
Long-shelf life: Dry, uncooked lentils can be kept in an airtight container in a dry, cool place for up to 1 year.

Different types of lentils:
In the US, there are seven different varieties of lentils grown that vary in color, size, and flavor. The outer shell of the seed can be light brown, green, speckled gray-green, yellow, red, or black. All varieties are equally nutritious, yet the texture can differ depending on the type. For example, red lentils, which have been “split”, removing the outer shell, have a softer texture when cooked and are great for making purees for dips or veggie burgers, whereas black, French and green lentils are intact so they have a firmer texture, making them good in salads and soups.

Mediterranean Lentil Salad
1 cup dried lentils (preferably small black or French lentils)
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
½ English cucumber, halved and sliced
¼ cup sliced scallions, green parts only
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 lemon, juiced and tested
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan with lentils, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes. Drain in a large sieve, and then transfer to a large bowl.
Allow the lentils to cool. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, dill, parsley, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Red Lentil Dal
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
1 cup jarred, crushed tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and ginger along with a pinch of sea salt. Sauté for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, cumin, coriander and mustard. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Add 3 cups water and lentils. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

By: Katie Cavuto, RD,
Research: Tara Pellacchia

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