Ingredient spotlight: Lentils
Lentils score tons of points for being a healthy additive to meals plus, they are super versatile– you’re bound to like at least one of these recipes. Welcome your new favourite fuel.
According to the United Nations, 2016 is the year of the pulse (lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc.) and Canadian Running is on board with that decision. Pulses are a smart source of vegan protein and fibre, as well as having a reduced carbon footprint to their meat counterparts.
Lentils, a member of the pulse family, pack approximately 9g of protein per 100g serving, for only 115 calories. Worried about lentils causing digestion difficulties or gas? Soak them overnight before you cook them. We’ve rounded up some yummy lentil-filled recipes below.
1. Greek lentil salad
Greek salad is a classic, but this version lets you amp up the vegetarian protein content, making it worthy of main dish status. This salad is a fantastic make-ahead lunch recipe.
2. Spicy maple roasted carrots with crispy lentils
I’ve never met a maple-syrup inspired recipe that I didn’t like, though lentils aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Canada’s favourite sweet syrup. Make this recipe as a side or dig into a bowl of it on its own.
This hearty slow cooker dish is more of a stew than a soup. It’s perfect for those who want to walk in the door to a nutritious and hot meal, right after work (or after the post-work run). The lentils provide protein and fibre, the sweet potatoes are a long-acting carbohydrate to keep you feeling full.
4. Roasted butternut squash with spiced lentils
Flavourful butternut squash, crunchy pine nuts and creamy feta come together to make a perfect dish (Veggie Primer recipe picture left).
You can swap the feta for goat cheese if you prefer.
5. Lentil stuffed zucchini boats
These pizza-inspired zucchini boats have all the cheesy goodness of a slice of ‘za, but for only 115 calories per boat. When shopping for this recipe, make sure to look for zucchinis with the widest base, for the best results.
Mandarin oranges, pomegranate, avocado and green lentils… to call this dish a salad seems to be underselling its intense flavours. (See GiveRecipe salad, pictured left.)
Think of these as the vegetarian equivalent to sliders (Photo credit: Blissful Basil) –you can eat them burger style, throw them on a salad or add it to your plate with sides. The recipe makes 12 cakes, each filled with sweet potato, lentil, kale, and unexpected ingredients, like hemp and pumpkin seeds.
This shepherd’s pie is ready in just an hour, which is pretty darn good for a casserole made from scratch. Lentils fare so well with the classic carrots and corn that you definitely won’t miss the beef.
This Gimme Some Oven dish is ready in 15 minutes total, making it a great option for busy weeknights. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 healthy fats, while lentils serve up the fibre. Combined, they make for a filling and protein-packed meal.
This site outlines how to properly sprout your own lentils to make use of in salads, wraps and as a garnish. Many people who find lentils difficult to digest fare better when they eat lentils that have begun sprouting.