Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Lentil and Bulgur Soup
Rice and Lentil Pilaf
Maple Glazed Salmon with Lentils
Mustard Glazed Salmon with Lentils
Lemon Pork with Lentils
Lentil and Black Bean Salad
Halibut with Seven Spices
Lentil and Black Bean Salad
Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Lentils
Brown, green, and red lentils.
Closeup of brown lentils.
When I am giving lectures I love to talk about lentils. Legumes are one of my favorite ingredients and lentils are one of my favorite legumes. They keep well in the cupboard, cook quickly and there are dozens of ways to use them - in soups, salads, stews, chili or simply as a side dish.
Lentils, like peas, garbanzos and peanuts, are legumes. You can think of them as a starch since they are mostly carbohydrate and protein with essentially no fat. They best part is that they contain tons of fiber with a half cup of cooked lentils coming in at around 8 grams.
You can find references to lentils in the Bible and they have been found in Egyptian tombs (dried lentils do keep well). Like other legumes you can cook and serve lentils whole, but they are also great pureed into in soups and sauces. Because they are so tiny, dried lentils don’t have to be soaked overnight like other legumes. It is a good idea to rinse them well because they contain a lot of dust and dirt. Boil very gently, testing often for doneness.
There are three main types of lentils. The most common is the brown lentil, sometimes labeled Indian Brown Lentil or German lentil. I have seen these repeatedly mislabeled as green lentils, but strictly speaking they are not. They are light brown in color and are easy to find on your grocery store shelves. They cook quickly and will be mushy if you cook them too long. This does make them perfect for soups and will give the soup a rich thickness.
The small dark green lentil is also known as the French lentil. You might find them labeled Puy lentils or by the French term "lentilles vertes du Puy." They have a thin shell and a stronger pea-like flavor. These are slightly tough and take longer to cook. I love to use these in salads and side dishes, such as pilafs, because they hold up well to cooking and won’t turn to mush.
Red (pink) and yellow lentils have had the hull removed and are split much like split peas. As a result they will cook more quickly than brown or French lentils. These are slightly smaller and not as plump as green lentils and have a milder flavor. In India yellow lentils are known as moong dal and red lentils known as masoor dal. You might also see the pink lentils labeled Egyptian lentils.
Lentils store well. Keep them in a Ziplock bag and place the bag inside a plastic container. Because they are quick cooking you will always have the starter for a great quick meal.
1/4 cup uncooked lentils = 169 calories, <1 gram fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 gram monounsaturated fat, 12 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams fiber, 3 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 mcg Vitamin K
1/4 cup uncooked pink lentils = 166 calories, <1 gram fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 grams monounsaturated fat, 12 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 3 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mcg Vitamin K
Slim Your Waist with Whole Grains and Legumes
I've said for years that the most important factor in weight loss is the number of calories you eat versus the number of calories you burn. That said, we also know that some foods are more filling and satisfying than others, which is just one explanation for why those who eat more whole grains tend to gain less weight over the years. Further, those who eat more legumes seem to have a lower Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR).
A Roughage Life....
We know that fiber can help prevent some cancers, reduce your cholesterol, help you avoid problems with heart disease and help diabetics control their blood sugar. Almost every week I read another positive study on how great high fiber foods are for you health. While there's no magical dietary cure eating foods that are higher in fiber is pretty close and is one of the easiest changes that you make in your diet.
What I (Un)Learned in Medical School
It was about 15 years ago, but as amazing as it may seem, I actually had a professor say, "I don't care about my diet, I'll just take Zocor or another cholesterol lowering medication and keep eating my thick, juicy steaks." This was in response to a Grand Rounds lecturer speaking about the importance of diet in preventing heart disease.
Bean There, Done That!
I have written recently about the positive effects that diet can have on different cancers. We know that people with a normal Body Mass Index have a lower risk of cancer. Studies have also shown a clear link with increased fruit and vegetable intake providing a decrease in the risk of some cancers.
What About Gout?
This was a recent question by a visitor to the site in response to a column about how great legumes are for you. The issue is that legumes can provoke a flare-up of painful arthritis in those who suffer with gout. This is the consequence of higher amounts of purine molecules found in beans, peas and peanuts.
How Soy Can Improve Your Health
A recent nutritional study found that including nutrient-dense plant based foods (like soy protein, whole grains, vegetables, and garlic) can, at least in the short term, reduce your LDL cholesterol levels (the bad stuff) and total cholesterol.
A Mediterranean Diet Won't Make You Fat
You've probably heard that a "Mediterranean Diet" will help you live longer. What is a "Mediterranean Diet"? Essentially, a diet like that of the Greek and Mediterranean regions--a diet low in meat and dairy products, but high in vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, cereals, fish, and olive oil, with a moderate alcohol intake.
More About Fiber
I write about getting more fiber all the time because it’s really important. There’s no doubt that this is one key to eating healthier and being more satisfied when you do eat. I pay attention to this in every recipe that I research and every ingredient I choose these days. When I am thinking about making a particular recipe I pay as close attention to the amount of fiber as I do to total calories and fats.
Eating healthy important for kids' weight, too
It's clear that what's known as a "Western" diet, comprised of high-fat foods, refined grains, and lots of sugar, is one of the primary causes of the rise in obesity levels throughout the Western world. Most studies of dietary patterns, however, are focused on adults and their diets while in adulthood.
Control Cholesterol Through Diet Alone?
Canadian researchers assessed the cholesterol levels of 55 men and women over the course of one year of a recommended low-fat diet designed to combine various foods known for their cholesterol-lowering effects.
Diet and Glycemic Index
Glycemic Index (GI) is a concept that has been around for decades and has moved in and out of favor for use with weight loss and for diabetics. It's a great tool in many ways, but it does add another number to learn and there has long been debate as to whether diets that specifically use foods with a low GI are effective.
Magnesium and irregular heart beats
A number of my patients have trouble with irregular heart beats. It can be very common and is people call this many different things. Some feel they are having "skipped beats" or a "flip-flop" of the heart. Many will call these palpitations and it is best described as a feeling that the heart has jumped or beaten out of sequence.
Eating A Mediterranean Diet Reduces Your Risk Of Becoming Obese
I have written extensively on how a Mediterranean style diet can help prevent disease. A group of researchers using information gathered in Spain about dietary patterns looked at how a diet that closely adheres to the Mediterranean patterns affects weight gain.
Dietary Fat and the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease
It has become clearer and clearer that diets high in saturated fat and trans fats are associated with health problems. I have written about many different research studies that link diets high in these types of fats with heart disease and stroke. Recently, however, a very well designed study shows a clear connection between Alzheimer's Disease and an increased intake of saturated and trans fat.
The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is the name that has evolved to symbolize the healthy foods eaten by those whose countries surround the Mediterranean Sea. Their diets are higher in vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and whole grain cereals. The main fat used is olive oil and there is less emphasis on highly saturated fats.