Are Lentils Healthy? How to Cook Lentils? How to Eat More Lentils?

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.


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How to eat more lentils | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian



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)


Lentil nutrition - fibre, protein, iron, folate | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian



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).


Cooking time for dried lentils, green or brown lentils, red lentils. Tips for cooking lentils | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian

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!


Tips for using canned lentils, rinse and drain | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian



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 store cooked lentils in the fridge or freezer | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian



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:

  • Lentil soups

  • Lentil curries/dhal

  • Lentil salads

  • Lentil stew


Looking to incorporate lentils into recipes you already enjoy? They work great as a replacement for ground meat in your favourite recipes:

  • Pasta sauce

  • Tacos

  • Stuffed peppers

  • Burger patties

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!


10 ways to eat more lentils, how to eat more lentils | Beyond Diabetes Nutrition - Lucy Zhang, Registered Dietitian


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?



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