Lentils are an almost ideal plant protein because they are low in calories and high in nutrients. Additionally, they are inexpensive. Fortunately, lentils also possess the most crucial last component: they taste great. Lentils may be a fantastic way to create hearty and full meals as part of a plant-based diet if you properly prepare them. So why are you still waiting? From soups to tacos, here are our top lentil dishes.
What are Lentils?
The dried seeds of the legume lentil plant are known as lentils. They are round and diminutive. They are a common ingredient in Mediterranean, West Asian, and South Asian cuisines. Lentils are a great food for vegan and vegetarian diets because of their high fiber, carbohydrate, and protein content. Lentils come in various colors, sizes, shapes, and flavors. In South Asia, West Asia, and the Mediterranean, lentils are small, round legumes used in various recipes. They make a great pantry staple because they are inexpensive, adaptable, and store well for up to a year.
Due to their high fiber, carbohydrate, and protein content, lentils are also widely used in vegan and vegetarian cooking. They contain so much protein (9g per 1/2 cup) that I frequently suggest lentils when readers ask for a vegan alternative to one of my recipes. Throughout the day, lentils will keep you full, healthy, and energized.
Top Recipes for Lentils
One of the best vegetarian Indian dishes is lentil dal! This version, which I like to refer to as Emerald Dal, is loaded with spinach, making it particularly nutritious and flavorful. Consider this Lentil Dal to be Saag Paneer with lentils in place of the Cheese for a rich, fragrant, and protein-rich dish. A delicious, nutritious, and vegan-friendly lentil meal!
Lentil Tabouli Salad
Middle Eastern tastes are blended into this lentil tabouli salad, which can be prepared ahead of time. For weekday lunches or potlucks, these flavorful lentils are coupled with fresh summer tomatoes, lemon, mint, and parsley, as well as a special blend of spices. Gluten-free and vegan.
Lentil Soup with Spinach
This delicious soup is rich in flavor, nutrition, and protein.
This vegan winter warmer requires 30 to 40 minutes to simmer after being prepared in a matter of minutes.
Lentils and chickpeas in an easy vegan meatloaf
What you can accomplish with a can of chickpeas never ceases to amaze me. Have you ever baked using chickpeas? You ought should
However, the topic of this discussion is lentils, and this dish is incredibly filling.
The texture is rich and almost meaty, thanks to the inclusion of chickpeas, lentils, and flax seeds.
The lentils and chickpeas should be smoothed out ideally in a food processor, but if you prefer more texture, go ahead and manually mash them!
Red lentil crust for pizza
You did indeed read that correctly!
Even though cauliflower is popular right now, you must try this recipe.
The dough must only be poured onto the tray after being thoroughly combined, then cooked for 20 minutes.
Enjoy adding your preferred toppings!
The crisp exterior that results from frying in a skillet is unquestionably the greatest feature of these fritters.
They would bake up nicely, no doubt, but the hot oil’s sting wouldn’t be present.
For increased spiciness, feel free to add more chilies to the mixture.
I cook a large batch of chili in my crockpot as soon as the weather begins to change.
Even though mine is stuffed with beef, this lentil recipe just might convince me to switch.
You can really go all out with this because it is packed with lentils, onion, tomatoes, and bell pepper. Roasted sweet potatoes, corn, and even jalapenos are things I would include.
Creamy vegan Lentil hummus
This is your chance to try liquid smoke if you’ve never done so before! This creamy, bacon-flavored, high fiber, protein-packed hummus has a hint of smoke.
It’s a fantastic substitute for the typical store-bought hummus.
Easy Sweet Potato, Red Lentil, and Coconut Curry
I’ve been attempting to provide more vegetarian meals at home in recent years.
It’s so much simpler than it used to be with all the fantastic recipes available!
You’ll find the nutritious lentils in this curry along with the substantial sweet potatoes in a delicious coconut curry.
Why not adore it?
A hearty pasta dish with lentils and marinara sauce
Here, their substitution is much simpler to make because of how much they resemble ground beef.
After all, you eat with your eyes, and this dish resembles what your grandmother used to prepare.
Since the lentils will soak up all the extra marinara, I would add a bit extra if you prefer your sauce to coat the noodles.
What are the Health Benefits of Lentil?
A low-cost, highly-nutritious legume is lentils. With various textures, flavors, and colors, lentils are a pantry staple in many different cuisines worldwide. Red lentils have a flavor all their own, unlike other colored lentils. It is the quickest and simplest lentil to prepare, and once it is done, it has the consistency of a smooth puree, making it perfect for curries, thick creamy soups, and traditional Indian stews or dhal. Red lentils are excellent for adding thickness to soups and stews, but they also offer a wealth of minerals and health benefits that your body will value.
High Nutritional Value
Red lentils are a welcome dish for vegans and non-vegans due to their high nutritional value and simplicity of dietary integration. Additionally, it makes a great meat substitute that is easy on the stomach and may promote weight loss.
The incredible amount of essential vitamins and minerals in red lentils makes them a superfood from which your body will benefit. Due to its high protein and fiber content, including red lentils in your diet is a fantastic way to benefit from these health benefits. Red lentils provide the following nutritional and health advantages:
A Good Fiber Source
About 39 grams of carbohydrates and 16 grams of dietary fiber are present in one cup of cooked red lentils. Additionally, red lentils have a negligible effect on blood sugar levels because one cup of cooked red lentils only contains 3.6 grams of sugar.
Red lentils have 18 grams of protein per cup, which is enough to satisfy 32% of men’s and 38% of women’s daily protein needs. Red lentils don’t have enough amino acids on their own, but when combined with other plant-based protein sources like whole grains and black beans, they can supply all the amino acids your body needs daily.
There are lots of B vitamins.
The best B vitamins are found in red lentils, which are also a good source of thiamine, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6. Additionally, 358 micrograms of vitamin B9, or folate, are included in cooked red lentils. Ninety percent of the daily need for folate—400 micrograms—can be found in one cup of cooked red lentils. Red blood cells, DNA, and energy production all depend on folate.
Lentils: Can you Eat them Every Day?
When ingested regularly, beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils can significantly cut bad cholesterol. A recent study found that consuming one serving of beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils daily significantly reduced “bad cholesterol” levels and, consequently, the risk of cardiovascular disease. High-fiber meals, such as lentils, can “push extra waste through your digestive system, lowering constipation and IBS symptoms,” according to Hickey. He adds that a high potassium content in lentils “helps to limit the negative effects of sodium and decreases blood pressure.”
The top five reasons to eat lentils (and other legumes) at least three times per week are as follows: Protein: Studies show that women over 40 need more protein to maintain their muscle mass and prevent weight gain (or help with weight loss). Critical factors to consider are the quantity of protein consumed and how it is distributed throughout the day.
How to Use Different Types of Lentils?
Regular lentils cannot be used in various ways due to their delicate texture, but French lentils can. Since they maintain their firmness, they are ideal for Mediterranean-style roasted red pepper and lentil salad and French lentil salad with goat cheese. You may cook brothy soups like Lebanese Lemon Lentil Soup or saucy dishes like Lentil Bolognese without worrying that the French lentils will turn mushy because they do not break down and absorb all the liquid in meals. Green or brown lentils can also be swapped with French ones, but watch the cooking time because they take longer to soften.
Different lentil varieties lend themselves to different kinds of dishes, and they are not all interchangeable. The following are the varieties that may be found in stores the most regularly, along with tips on how to use them:
French Green Lentils or Le Puy
My favorite kind of lentils! These fellas cook up with a great crisp texture and keep their shape. They go well with my curried lentil soup, and I like to add them to lentil salads and pasta sauces.
The green lentils seen in France are quite similar to these black lentils. In the majority of lentil dishes, they can be used interchangeably. They take around 20 minutes to cook and have a delicious taste. When I want to add lentils to a salad or serve them as a hearty side dish on their own, they are my go-to option.
Brown or Green Regular Lentils
Green or brown lentils are also fantastic options if you’re making a hearty soup or stew, and they lose their structure as they cook and instead become mushy and soft. The dry lentils are best added to a sizable soup pot and boiled for about 30 minutes or until tender.
Lentils of all colors, except red (or yellow), cook more quickly. After only 15 minutes of boiling, they are soft and tasty! They melt and disappear when cooking, giving food a deliciously creamy texture. As a result, they make a great addition to hearty stews, curries, or Indian dals. I even mix them to make a delicious dip that resembles hummus!
Are there Proteins or Carbohydrates in Lentils?
With little fat and calories, lentils are a good source of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Due to their high protein content, lentils are a fantastic method to enhance your protein intake. They are delicious gluten-free kitchen essentials because they are naturally gluten-free. When you exclude foods like meat, dairy, eggs, and poultry from your diet, you’ll probably substitute foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds that are higher in carbohydrates and fats and lower in fat protein for a large portion of those calories.
There are, however, several anomalies, like the lentil. Depending on the type of meat you’re looking at, lentils have about half the protein found in meat. Although lentils are an excellent plant-based protein source, there are few alternatives: One cup of lentils contains 17.9 grams of protein (230 calories).
What Lentils are Highest in Protein?
Which lentils provide the most protein? If you’re trying to maximize every calorie. Puy lentils, which contain 36 grams of protein per cup, are the solution.
Getting enough protein can be difficult if you eat a plant-based diet and engage in any form of resistance training. If this applies to you, lentils are an excellent option because they typically contain much more protein than other whole plant foods.
However, not all lentils are created equal. They come in a range of forms, dimensions, and hues. The various varieties of lentils are broken down in the table below, along with their nutritional value. Based on which lentils provide the greatest protein, they are sorted from top to bottom.
Puy & French Green Lentils
Like green lentils, French lentils are smaller, darker, and better able to maintain their shape. The rich volcanic soil of Puy in central France has been used to develop a particular variety of French green lentils known as Puy lentils.
With a tie-breaking 36 grams of protein per cup, French green lentils and Puy lentils have the most protein. However, Puy lentils provide more protein per calorie than their French cousin since they have 40 fewer calories per cup. Additionally, they contain fewer carbohydrates, making them better suited for a low-carb diet.
Moong beans that have been hulled and split are used most frequently in India as dal. Since they lack the peppery vegetable flavor that green lentils offer, these are my particular favorite lentils. If you cook them properly, they also have a consistency similar to mashed potatoes. You may make a wonderful dish that is high in protein by adding salt and olive oil.
With 0.0796 grams of protein per calorie, yellow lentils rank third in terms of nutrients. Compared to other lentils, they have comparatively fewer calories and carbohydrates. Although they may not have as much protein, the excellent taste and low-calorie count may make up for it.
When looking for a vegan lentil recipe, try creamy red lentil soup. It can be made in less than 30 minutes and is rich in coconut milk. Add garlic and onion for an extra flavor boost. If you are vegan, you can omit the Greek yogurt topping and make the soup with vegetable stock or chicken broth. It’s easy to make vegan lentil soup without the Greek yogurt topping. If you’re trying to make vegetarian meals, you can use vegetable stock instead of chicken broth.