There’s a reason they’ve been dubbed, “the poor man’s meat” — lentils are high in protein, low in fat, and affordable. Here at Honest, we love our lentils, so today we’re sharing just why the lentil is such a super food.
Don’t let their size fool you — lentils are small but mighty, nutritional powerhouses. One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein, which is roughly equivalent to the protein content found in 5 egg whites. They are rich in complex carbohydrates (aka the good kind) meaning they will boost metabolism and help your body burn fat. Looking to increase your fiber intake? One cup of lentils is good for 16 grams of fiber, which helps to keep your cholesterol levels in check. Lentils also contain more folate than any other plant food, making them a great addition to the diets of expecting or breastfeeding women.
Because of their high levels of protein, lentils are an essential food for those choosing to support a vegetarian lifestyle. Lentils also contain twice as much iron than other legumes, so they are a good way to get more iron into your diet, especially if you’re not eating red meat.
Studies have found that eating high fiber foods, such as lentils, helps to prevent heart disease. The folate and magnesium content found in lentils are also key players when it comes to heart health. So if you want to keep your heart healthy and happy, eat lentils!
While a cool season crop, lentils are generally available for purchase year-round. Buy dried lentils in bulk or by the bag at your local grocery store. Look for bright, uniform color to ensure freshness.
Unlike other legumes, lentils are low maintenance and do not need to be pre-soaked before using. Rinse lentils with cool water before cooking. To boil, use three cups of water for every one cup of lentils. Add to boiling water and cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on your recipe and desired texture.
Lentils make a great addition to any meal of the day! Mix them into your breakfast frittata, toss them into your lunch salad, toast them for a crunchy afternoon snack, or serve them alongside a main course at dinner. One of our favorite lunches to have around the office is lentil soup, because it’s hearty and filling, without the dreaded post-lunch food coma. Try out our version of a vegetarian lentil soup below; it’s a go-to recipe that we promise is worth mastering.
Vegetarian Lentil Soup (gluten-free!)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion (diced)
1 carrot (sliced)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup dry lentils
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
- In a large pot, sautee onions and carrot in olive oil for 3-5 minutes until onions turn clear.
- Add the vegetable broth, lentils, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, and salt.
- Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Remove bay leaves and stir in lemon juice before serving.
What is your favorite way to enjoy lentils? Share your favorite recipes with us below!