Unlike the common misconception that meat eaters place on vegans and vegetarians about lack of protein, there are actually many healthy ways to get protein besides meat (meat isn’t good for you anyways!). A great example of this is lentils.
Lentils are a wonderful source of protein and a very versatile, nutrient-rich food. A lot of times meat eaters just turning vegetarian complain that they don’t feel full, but trust me, with lentils, you will not have that excuse any longer! But besides, I think that’s more of a control issue than anything. If you’re not full from eating lentils, maybe it’s time to start reanalyzing your relationship with food. Do you eat to live or live to eat?
The attitude that a lot of meat eaters seem to portray is that they live to eat. Now, as insulting as that may sound, how many times have you heard the excuse of taste? Yes, food can be tasteful but it shouldn’t be the only reason or excuse for eating it. Besides, who said healthy, whole foods can’t taste good, anyways?
With lentils, you cannot only have the hearty flavor of meat, but the amount of protein in this bean is incredible! In fact, the suggested serving size, one cup, contains 18g of protein itself. And not only are they rich in protein, but fiber, iron, zinc and more; not to mention literally fat-free! What’s not to love?
As far as cooking goes, these legumes can be done as quickly as 20 minutes; no soaking is necessary! Though these can be bought in a can, I highly suggest buying them bagged considering BPA from canned foods is still a possibility. Plus, there dried beans are easy to store and dirt cheap! They go for under $2 for a 16 oz. bag! Now that’s a great deal.
At this point, hopefully you’re curious to experiment with lentils yourself. If so, today’s you’re lucky day. I have a delicious and easy recipe for you to try at home with simple ingredients. Also, the great thing about this recipe is that is easily adaptable for likeness, portion, and taste differences. Check it out below!
Spicy Lentil and Kale Dinner
Serving size: 2 but can easily be doubled, tripled, etc!
Ingredients: 1 cup of Lentils, Carrot, Garlic, Olive Oil or Coconut Oil, Vegetable Broth, Water, Salsa, Kale, Mandarin Orange(s), Black Pepper, Spices of Your Choice.
1. In a large skillet/pan, sauté the minced garlic and finely chopped carrot in olive oil or coconut oil for about 5-7 minutes or until the carrots are soft. While that is cooking, if you are using a vegetable broth cube instead of canned vegetable broth, start boiling your water now. Usually 1 cube calls for 2 cups of boiling water. When the water is boiling, add the cubes and wait for them to dissolve. If you are using canned vegetable broth, there is no need for this step.
2. After you broth is a complete liquid, add it to the sautéed garlic and carrot when they are done. From there, rinse 1 cup of dried lentils in a strainer to get rid of any dirt. Then, add the lentils to the skillet now containing the broth, carrots, and garlic.
3. From here you can add a mandarin orange for a hint of zest. I like to crush it with my hands and use the whole fruit.
4. While the mixture is set to low heat (simmer), add spices of your choice. I use Penzeys Spices in “Forward!” but don’t fret if you don’t have it. You can easily make up your own mixture to your liking. The spice mix I use contains: black pepper, onion, paprika, garlic, turmeric, celery, rosemary, thyme, and basil. Don’t be afraid to experiment and use what you have based off the mix.
5. After adding the spices, cover the skillet/pan with a lid after a few mixes. Set your timer for about 45 minutes as an estimate. The time can vary.
6. Next, start washing the kale by removing the leaves from the stem. You can use how ever much you’d like. I usually use a big bunch already put together in the fresh produce section. Besides, kale is not only a super food, but super priced!
7. After the kale is washed and ready to go, set it aside. Don’t forget to occasionally stir the lentil and recover.
8. In the last 15 minutes, add a salsa of your liking. I choose medium for a kick with more black pepper. Stir.
9. Add the kale in teared bunches, not too big. Then add a some water on top of the kale to give it some moisture (don’t over do it). Stir.
10. Lastly, when the kale is done, usually 5-10 minutes with a covered lid, taste the lentils with a fork to ensure they are fully cooked. They should be soft and not hard, or cook to your liking.
And there you have it! A simple, one entrée meal that is sure to have you coming back for more. The nutritional benefits from the lentils and kale will not only satisfy but also fill your appetite. Be sure to test it out and let us know how it goes!