lentils
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A Guide To Lentils: Types, Nutrition, and How To Prep

Lentils are always a staple in my house. Not only are they healthy, but they’re easy to cook and super versatile. They work great in salads, main dishes, soups, and much more! They also make a hearty and cozy meal – perfect for the fall.

By: Isabella Milkes

This guide will help you identify the different types of lentils, their nutritional benefits, and a recipe to learn how to prepare them!

Health Benefits of Lentils

According to mindbodygreen.com, lentils contain:

  • Fiber: soluble fiber that lowers cholesterol and insoluble fiber, which aids your digestion
  • Magnesium: which help to stabilize blood sugar levels and aids in oxygen and blood flow
  • Protein: There are 17.86 grams of protein per cup. This makes lentils perfect for vegans and vegetarians who want to incorporate more protein in their diet 

There are many varieties of this legume that you can use in your everyday cooking. Here is a guide to the three most accessible types of lentils.

Brown Lentils

lentils

 

The most common type, brown lentils, are hearty with an earthy taste. They work perfect as a main dish (see the recipe below!) or in soups. These take 30-45 minutes to cook if bought dry, but many grocery stores sell them boxed or canned as well.

Green Lentils

 

Green Lentils are seen more frequently in soups or mixed with salads because they don’t break apart and hold their shape. These take about 25 minutes to cook if you soak them overnight. 

Want a soup to warm your soul? Check out this Crockpot Lentil Soup recipe, made with green lentils!

Red Lentils

Lastly, most widely used in Indian cuisine and typically called daal, these red lentils are by far the fastest to cook, as they only take 20 minutes. No need to soak them overnight! Red lentils turn yellow and mushy once cooked, almost like a purée and they work great with rice, potatoes, or your favorite flatbread.

And now, for the recipe…

This recipe uses dry brown lentils, so there is some preparation the night before cooking, but I prefer using dry rather than boxed or canned, because personally I think they absorb much more flavor.


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This recipe is great if you prefer to prepare in bulk, so that you can have it as a healthy meal and ready-to-go for the next days as well!

Creamy Brown Lentils

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of oil (I use grapeseed oil, but olive oil works just as well)
  • 1 cup of dry brown lentils
  • 1/2 purple/white onion
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (depending on your preference)
  • 1 small russet potato (Russet potatoes work best because of their starchiness; they will add creaminess to the lentils)
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 stems of cilantro/coriander (omit the leaves)
  • 1 dried bay leaf (optional but highly recommended)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • water or vegetable stock

Instructions

  1. The night before cooking: soak your lentils in a bowl of water overnight. Be generous with the water as the lentils will absorb the water and expand in size.
  2. On the day of cooking: take a large pot and place it on the stove on medium heat. While waiting for the pot to heat up, finely chop your green onions, garlic, oil, and add that to the pot. Sautée the green onions and the garlic for a few minutes. 
  3. Rinse the lentils that were soaking overnight and add them to the pot. Lower the heat a little and stir with the green onion and garlic. Add your water/vegetable stock, leaving about an inch of water above the lentils. As the lentils continue to cook, they will absorb more liquid.
  4. Finely grate half a carrot and add it to the pot. Cut the remaining half into small pieces. Peel the russet potato and chop it into small cubes and add it into the pot (this is what adds creaminess).
  5. Add in the entire red or white onion and the celery. Then press your cilantro stems with a knife to release the aroma and place them whole into the pot. Lastly, add your bay leaf.  
  6. Cover with a lid on medium heat, and wait for lentils to start boiling.
  7. Check on your lentils every few minutes to see if they need more liquid. Once your lentils begin to boil, add the turmeric and salt and pepper to taste, then lower the heat and cook for 30-40 minutes.
  8.  When the lentils are nice and creamy, remove the celery, the onion, and the cilantro stalk and discard. (They have released their flavors, so we don’t need them anymore!) 
  9. Finally, serve as desired in a bowl, along with rice, pita bread, potatoes, quinoa or any other side dish that you enjoy!

Whats your favorite lentil recipe? Share with us in the comments!


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