Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love for Lentils

Lovely, Lovely Lentils...

There are so many reasons to love this mighty (tiny) bean!   Just wait until you read all the health benefits I posted at the bottom; you will be amazed.  And once you try this recipe you will be sold!  It is a great choice for cooking for a family, not only because it is so tasty, and for all of its amazing health benefits, it is also super easy to cook.  Unlike most other beans there is no need to soak the lentils over night, you can just put the dried beans directly into some boiling water and eat them once they are softened.

My version of lentil soup takes inspiration from traditional Italian lentil soup and Indian Daal.  I love this recipe because it is so satisfying and comforting, and also my daughter and husband gobble it up.

Fun fact...
Did you know lentils are also believed to bring prosperity and luck?  A popular New Year's meal in Italy is Cotechino con Lenticchie (green lentils with sausage). This tradition which got it's start centuries ago is thought to bring good fortune for the coming year.  If you are at all superstitious like me, it's just another reason to love lentils.

 The ingredients are so simple...

 - some veggies, lentils, and a bunch of spices.


1 cup lentils
1 jalapeno (if you like it spicy)
3 carrots chopped
5 garlic cloves finely minced
1 medium onion diced
3 or 4 stalks of celery chopped
2 medium potatoes chopped
1 tomato chopped
1 tablespoon of finely chopped ginger
6 cups of either chicken stock, veggie stock or water
3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 tablespoon tumeric powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon coriander
1 tablespoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste

There is a lot of veggie chopping involved but other than that this recipe is a snap to make...

How to make:

Chop onions, garlic and ginger first - they are the first things in the pot...

 Then chop all your veggies...

Peel your potatoes and chop them...

In a large sauce pan (I use my dutch oven), cook your onions, garlic, ginger (and jalapeno) in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 mins...

Then add the other veggie and cook them down for another 2 or 3 mins...

Then get your spices in there...

Leave the salt till the last 10 mins of cook time (salt can make beans tough so just leave it until the end)

Then add your lentils (make sure to rinse the lentils in a strainer before using them to get rid of any impurities)

Add water or stock and bring to a boil...

Turn down to a medium simmer and then let cook for 45 mins to an hour until everything is nice and soft.  Add the salt at the very end.

Sometime I throw some chopped cilantro on top in the bowls.  It looks pretty and adds a refreshing flavor.

I hope you enjoy!  This is a great way to get more veggies into your family diet, and the added health benefits of ginger and tumeric.  I feel so good after eating this!

Here is some additional information about why lentils are so good for your health...
(found here - http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=75)

Health Benefits of Lentils...

Lentils are a great source of fiber, and help lower cholesterol.  Lentils also provide good amounts of seven important minerals, our B-vitamins, and protein—all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up—not out.

Good for your Heart

Lentils have significant amounts of folate and magnesium which are very important minerals for keeping your heart healthy.

Lentils also Give You Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar

Iron gives you Energy

In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, lentils can increase your energy by replenishing your iron stores. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with lentils is a good idea—especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, lentils are not rich in fat and calories. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you're pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron.

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