10 Reasons to Love Lentils – The Other Legume
Why I Love Lentils & Eat Them All the Time
When people say they can’t eat beans, I say, “Have you tried lentils?”
There are so many different kinds of legumes (beans & lentils), over 11,000 known varieties.
Of course you won’t find that many varieties in your supermarket, but you’ll probably find a dozen different kinds of legumes, dried & canned, and double that number in natural food stores.
And there are almost infinite numbers of ways to prepare beans and lentils (including split peas).
So anyone can easily find several legumes to love and at least twenty different ways to prepare them.
But I confess, I love lentils more than beans. I do love pinto beans, garbanzo beans, black beans and black eyed peas, and I’m fond of several other kinds of beans and peas. But I eat lentils about 10 times more often.
1. Tasty & Colorful: Lentils come in many delicious flavors and colors. In fact, each variety of lentil has it’s own unique flavor & color, plus it takes on the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with. Just because beans do the same is beside the point.
2. Healthy, Packed with Nutrition & Fiber: Compare lentils to black beans. Both nutritious, but lentils are EVEN MORE nutritious! Thanks to Whole Foods for the nutrition info.
Lentils, cooked 1.00 cup (198.00 grams): Calories 230, GI low, NutrientDRI/DV: molybdenum330%, folate 89.5%, fiber 62.5%, copper 55.5%, phosphorus 50.9%, manganese 49%, iron 36.6%, protein 35.7%, vitamin B1 27.5%, pantothenic acid 25.2%, zinc 22.8%, potassium 20.8%, vitamin B6 20.5%
Black Beans, cooked 1.00 cup (172.00 grams): Calories 227, GI low, Nutrient DRI/DV: molybdenum 286.6%, folate 64%, fiber 59.8%, copper 40%, manganese 38%, vitamin B1 35%, phosphorus 34.4%, protein 30.4%, magnesium 30.1%, iron 20%
3. Quick Cooking: Most beans need to be soaked before cooking, while most lentils do not. Plus they cook in half the time, and are less likely to end up either crunchy or blown apart, which happens to beans more often than anyone will admit.
4. Smaller: There’s something so meek and mild, so unassuming and non-threatening about lentils, and that’s because they’re smaller.
5. Cheaper: Since lentils are lighter and smaller, it seems like you’re getting more for your buck, even though technically, they might cost the same per pound as beans.
6. Versatile: You can make more things with lentils than with beans. That hasn’t been scientifically verified, but in my experience, it’s true, and has nothing to do with the fact that I eat more lentils.
7. More Digestible: For some reason that I am not able to grasp, the bigger the legume, the more gastric distress it causes. I have found that to be more or less true, and it could be due to more ol·i·go·sac·cha·rides in beans (carbohydrate whose molecules are composed of a relatively small number of monosaccharide units). Or it could just be that my digestive system is more used to lentils since I eat them more.
8. Acceptable to Small Children and Bean Phobic Adults: While cooked beans are large, obvious, shout “gaseous”, and infants might choke on them, small discrete lentils hide quietly in soups, stews, casseroles, burgers and salads, where they are eaten before anyone realizes they’re there and starts to feel threatened.
9. Easy to Disguise: Lentils cook up softer, and are easily made into smooth purees, especially Indian lentils and dhals and yellow or green split peas. That means they can become creamed soups, or find their way into spreads, dips and baked goods without anyone the wiser.
10. Filling and Satisfying: Because they’re smaller, more nutritious and digestible, non-threatening and easily disguised, we’re more likely to eat lentils, and eat more of them, so we end up feeling fuller and more satisfied. A Scientific Fact!
Cooking and Sprouting Lentils
The recipes shown here don’t include split peas which are a close relative of lentils. Split peas are best cooked until they are mush, sometimes they take a while to do that, and often need soaking.
Lentils are best when they keep their shape during cooking. The only exception to that are the tiny red lentils, called Masoor Dahl in India. IMHO, they are best cooked until mushy.
Although soaking is an option for lentils, they can easily be cooked without soaking, and they don’t take long at all to cook.
The tricky part of cooking lentils is to get them to cook through while staying intact. The secret is to soak them for an hour or two and add a pinch of salt to the soaking water, and then to the cooking water. That may add a few minutes to the cooking time, but it’s worth it, for perfect lentils to add to salads or casseroles.
Sprouting makes lentils even more digestible, nourishing and delicious. And makes it possible to eat them raw.
To sprout lentils: Soak 1/2 – 1 cup lentils overnight in a 1 – 2 quart glass jar, then rinse and drain. Cover the top of the jar with a piece of old dishtowel secured with a rubber band, or a fine mesh sprouting screen.
Place the jar of soaked and rinsed lentils in a cool dark spot, with the mouth of the jar tilted downward and the lentils distributed evenly in the jar. Rinse 2 or 3 times a day. When tails begin to appear, sprouting is done. Sprouts are most nutritious when just barely sprouted.
Use sprouted lentils in salads, wraps, add to soups at the end of cooking, or grind up and add to breads.