Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lentil Fest 2012

Lately I have been going crazy with lentils!

I used to dislike lentils and I'm hardly a fussy eater--if you disregard that I don't want to eat many foods, which is totally different than many foods don't taste good to me.

But lentils didn't used to taste good to me. Oddly enough, it was when I went plant-strong that all that changed.  And now, I can hardly get enough of them.

From the black lentils in this Kale Salad to Dr. Fuhrman's Lentil Dal with Mango and on to Dr. McDougall's Sloppy Lentil Joes, I have been cooking with lentils at every opportunity. It's all been very, very  delicious.
And that's a really good thing. Because last I checked, lentils are outstandingly good for us. They're loaded with fiber, folate, iron, protein, and other vitamins and minerals. Thanks to their fiber, your body absorbs the energy from lentils slowly, which helps keep your blood-sugar levels even. About a quarter of lentil's fiber is soluble, which helps lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and keeping your digestive system running nice and smooth.

Lentils also deliver an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron -- especially when paired with a food containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits or peppers. And like other legumes, lentils are a significant (and virtually fat-free) source of protein, with 26% of their calories coming from protein.

There are hundreds of varieties of lentils, which range in color from yellow, orange, red, green, and brown to black and can be bought either with or without their skins. Each type has subtle differences in taste and texture. They're cheap too, which is never a bad thing!

This recipe came my way via my e-mail inbox, where for $3.95 per month I receive one Dr. Fuhrman recipe per day. I wish I could keep up with preparing them all, but life is too busy for that. Luckily, this one stopped me in my tracks when I saw it. I love the combination of sweet and savory and it works really well in this recipe.

Dr. Fuhrman's Lentil Dal with Mango
courtesy of drfuhrman.com member center

print me!

1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 mangoes, peeled and diced
3 cups coarsely chopped spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine lentils, water and turmeric in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, water saute onion until almost tender, about 3 minutes, add garlic and ginger and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add coriander, cumin and black pepper.

Stir the garlic mixture and mangoes into the lentils. Return to a simmer; cook stirring occasionally, until lentils are very tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in spinach and cilantro and heat until spinach is wilted.

I've seen many recipes for vegan versions of sloppy joes, and even tried one made with a faux meat product. I wasn't that impressed (from a taste or nutritional standpoint), so when I happened upon the McDougall's lentil version of sloppy joes, I was really curious.It is really quick and easy to prepare and it's absolutely perfect reheated for leftovers.

Dr. McDougall's Sloppy Lentil Joes
courtesy The McDougall Newsletter, February 2006

3 1/3 cups water
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ cups dried brown lentils
1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper

Place 1/3 cup of the water (I used low sodium vegetable broth instead) in a large pot. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until onions soften slightly, about 5 minutes. 

Add the chili powder and mix in well. Add the remaining water (3 cups), the lentils, tomatoes, and the rest of the seasonings. Mix well, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook over low heat for 55 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Serve on whole wheat buns.

Since going plant-strong, have you discovered an ingredient that you love that you used to loathe? If so, what is that ingredient? To leave a comment/view the comments, please click on the title of this post (the orange text above).

Blogging tips