Did you know that Canada is the largest producer of lentils in the world? At a cost of about $0.16 per 1/2 cup serving, lentils can be an affordable way to increase your fibre and protein intake.
Are lentils healthy?
Lentils are a great plant based protein option to incorporate more often in to your eating routine. Each 1/2 cup serving of cooked lentils provides:
Fibre: 5 g (20% DV)
Protein: 10 g
Available carbohydrates (net carbs): 17 g
Lentils are also a great source of iron (20% DV) and folate (48% DV)
How to cook lentils?
The great thing about lentils is that unlike other pulses, lentils don’t require soaking! Depending on the variety of lentils you are using, cooking time can differ:
Green or brown lentils have a thicker seed casing, thus take longer to cook (~20 - 25 min) and will keep their shape more. They are great for soups, stews, salads, and pasta sauce.
Red lentils are often found in stores as split lentils with the seed casing removed - thus they will cook faster (12 - 15 min), and soften and “melt” when cooked. These are great for: curries/dhals and recipes that call for creamy or pureed lentils (e.g. dips, baked goods).
A few tips to keep in mind when cooking lentils:
Be sure to rinse with water before cooking to remove any dust or debris
Be sure to use a large enough pot - 1 cup of dried lentils will cook to 2 to 2.5 cups
If seasoning with salt, add salt after the lentils have cooked to avoid lentils becoming tough
Really short on time? Canned lentils can be a good time-saving option! Just be sure to rinse and drain before using to remove extra sodium!
How to store cooked lentils?
Cooked lentils can be stored in an airtight containers or bags and are good for:
Up to 1 week in the fridge
Up to 3 months in the freezer
How to eat lentils more often?
If you are looking for some inspiration on how to incorporate lentils more often into your meal routines, here are 10 ideas to get you started!
Try out new recipes where lentils are the star of the show and introduce your taste buds to new flavours:
Looking to incorporate lentils into recipes you already enjoy? They work great as a replacement for ground meat in your favourite recipes:
If you are just introducing lentils into your culinary repertoire, you can try replacing 1/2 the ground meat called for in your go-to recipes with lentils as a start! You may find this is a way to balance keeping the usual flavour/texture while stretching your grocery bill and boosting the fibre content!
Finally, get adventurous! Pureed lentils are a great way to boost protein and fibre in smoothies and baked goods!
So next time you are at the grocery store, be sure to check out the dried and canned lentil options available! What’s your favourite way to eat lentils?