Not a fan of lentils? That’s okay! Today’s lentil recipe is even a hit with non-lentil-lovers. The humble lentil is so inexpensive, yet filling and highly nutritious. I’ll get into that later, but first …
I made a big fruit salad yesterday, containing 1 pineapple, 2 passion fruit, 3 plums, 1 particularly large mango, & 2 kiwi. I’ll have some of that for breakfast!
- 2 c. fruit salad sprinkled with 1 T ground flaxseed
- 1/4 c. dates
- 1/2 c. blueberries
Checklist items: berries, 3 other fruit, flaxseed (5 out of 18 servings)
I’ll be getting all my bean & grain servings at dinner, but not much in the way of veg, so I’m having a very vegetable-heavy lunch (a.k.a., a salad).
- 2 c. lettuce and arugula, chopped
- 1/4 c. red bell pepper
- 1/4 c. red onion
- 1/4 c. cucumber
- 1/4 c. corn kernels
- 1/4 c. walnuts
I had my salad with My Basic Dressing.
Checklist items: 2 greens, 2 other vegetables, nuts (5 out of 18 servings)
Ah. The lowly lentil. A quick read into the history of lentils leaves one with the impression that mankind may not have evolved like we did if not for the lentil. This was one of the first plants ever to be cultivated, and lentils have been eaten by our kind since prehistoric times. Archaeologists have found 8000 year-old lentil seeds at dig sites in the Middle East, and evidence suggests we may have been eating them as much as 13,000 years ago. And that just goes to show that, even though our species can be pretty stupid at times, we do have some brains. Lentils are among the best foods that you could possibly put into your body. And here’s why…
Among legumes, only black beans top lentils in terms of antioxidant power. For protein, iron, zinc, & folate, red lentils come in first, followed closely by puy & green lentils. This data, however, does not include information on beluga lentils which, like black beans, have a black skin jam-packed with anthocyanin. I would be interested to see whether they might even beat out black beans for antioxidant power. The reason I think they might is based on simple geometry: all else being roughly equal, the smaller object should have a larger surface-area-to-volume ratio. Thus, the lentil should have more skin as a percentage of its total than the black bean. Since the antioxidants are in the skin, the beluga lentil may actually have higher antioxidant power. I’m sure we’ll find out someday. (UPDATE: In a Live Q&A on July 28, 2017, Dr. Greger postulates similarly – that Beluga lentils are likely the healthiest of the lentils because of their small size, though I think it’s likely not only a function of surface-to-volume ratio but also because smaller often means higher concentration of nutrients. I’m guessing – his words were “smaller is better”.)
Lentils have a higher fiber content than almost anything else. For a fiber chart and all the information you (n)ever wanted to know about fiber, visit this page. Here’s a couple of highlights: first, all that soluble fiber helps to lower cholesterol by trapping cholesterol-containing bile & “ushering” it out of your system. Second, fiber also helps to regulate & stabilize blood sugar levels.
Another good reason to eat lentils is their iron content. Richer in iron than anything but soybeans, lentils can help maintain healthy metabolism, produce energy, & maintain hemoglobin. Foods rich in vitamin C (e.g., broccoli, bell peppers, & brussels sprouts) help to increase plant-based iron absorption if eaten at the same meal (learn more about different types of iron here). But avoid coffee & tea, as they impair iron absorption. According to the Iron Disorders Institute, this is due, at least in part, to polyphenols & tannins rather than caffeine. For more info about iron & a list of foods highest in iron, visit this page.
If you have high homocysteine levels in your blood from a history of consuming animal products, the folate in lentils (along with vitamin B6, of which lentils are also a good source, and vitamin B12) will help to lower those levels, reducing both damage to your arteries, and your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Finally, a daily dose of lentils (or peas or beans) is important for prostate health.
All that research has made me hungry: now, for dinner!
This will serve 2 – 3 people, depending on appetite. For the checklist items at the end, I assume you bring your appetite. What am I making? Misr Wat. It’s an Ethiopian dish of lentils with Berbere spice blend, to which I add kale. It is traditionally served with injera – similar to a crêpe – but I’m serving it over black rice. If you can get your hands on some real injera made with teff, a whole grain, that would also be a good option. This dish is great for rainy or cold days, as it is hearty and satisfying.
- 3 c. cooked black rice (a/b 1 c. dry)
- 1 c. red lentils
- 1 c. finely chopped kale
- 3 c. (900 ml) vegetable bouillon or water
- 3 T tomato paste
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 T fresh ginger, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 T lime juice
- 1 1/2 T Berbere spice mix
- 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
- Sauté the onions, garlic, & ginger in water or bouillon, like this.
- Stir in tomato paste & Berbere spice mix, and continue cooking for about 1 minute as you combine everything.
- Slowly add bouillon, whisking until the mixture is smooth, and bring to a simmer.
- Add lentils & kale, and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
- Turn off the burner, and stir in lime juice.
- Serve over black rice and sprinkle with cilantro.
Checklist items: 3 beans, cruciferous, .5 other vegetables, spices, 3 whole grains (8.5 out of 18 servings)
Taking account of the day:
18.5 servings in total
We got at least the minimum recommended servings of everything today, plus half an extra serving of other vegetables.