Monday, August 20, 2012

A Lesson On Lentils: Taste The Rainbow

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Skittles may have coined the phrase 'taste the rainbow', but I'm pretty sure we could apply this catchy little phrase to lentils. Just look at all those colors! Confession time: I'm practically a lentil virgin. Sure, I've had them in soups, but that's where my experience comes to a screeching halt! I don't know how to cook them, I don't really know what they taste like solo and I'm fairly certain my inability to make decisions would be put to the test when given the option to buy any color under the rainbow. The paralysis of analysis... story of my life.

This past weekend, I decided that enough was enough... I can't have a nutrition blog and totally act like lentils don't exist! It was time for a little trip down to Trader Joe's so that I could further acquaint myself with these colorful legumes. It was time to take our relationship to the next level. 

Here's why I gave lentils a second look...

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HIGH FIBER CONTENT - Just 1 cup of cooked lentils contains about 15 grams of fiber, more than half of your daily requirement. Because lentils are comprised of soluble AND insoluble fiber, all your bases are covered. If you're not making a trip to the bathroom after eating some, then you're just a tricky case and I can't help you.

PACKED WITH PLANT-BASED PROTEIN - That same cup of lentils contains almost 17 grams of protein, making lentils a great choice for those of you who don't eat meat. Even if you DO eat meat, plant-based protein is much better for you than animal protein because you're eliminating the extra fat and calories that come with meat.

LOW IN FAT AND CALORIES - Chances are, you'll fill full when you incorporate lentils into your meal, and in one cup, you'll only consume about 220 calories and less than 1 gram of fat (including no saturated fat). With those kind of stats, you might as well go back for seconds!

FANTASTIC FUEL SOURCE - The complex carbs in lentils provide the body with lots of energy without causing your blood sugar to spike. Energy is released slowly... and that's how we like it, folks!

CHOCK FULL OF VITAMINS AND MINERALS - If I were to list them out, my list would be a mile long so I'll keep it snappy. Lentils are specifically rich in folate, which helps in cell production and maintenance. Studies have also suggested that folate can help prevent changes to DNA that could eventually lead to cancer. Just one cup of cooked lentils provides 90% of your daily requirement of folate. In addition to folate, lentils also assist in replenishing your iron levels, making this a great choice for women who are pregnant, lactating or 'on the rag' (sorry, boys...gross, I know).

For my weekend experiment with lentils, I recruited my friend Marissa and attempted to make a recipe from (love, love, love this blog!) for Lentil "Meatballs" in Lemon Pesto. We might have been a bit out of our league trying this particular recipe, especially since the food processor decided to die as we began. Thankfully, Marissa was able to take over and pulverize the lentils and pine nuts by hand! Good job, M!   ...She must workout.

When we were done, the kitchen looked like a level 5 disaster area, but the lentil meatballs were so tasty and complimented our girl's night movie choice 'Cruel Intentions' perfectly. Yes, in case you were wondering... lentils go perfectly with a side of Ryan Phillippe.

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