Health Warrior: Lentils and Their Perks




I am lucky.  My daughter actually asks me to make lentils - those fiber-rich, nutrient-laden nuggets..  How many mothers get to say that?  And here is a twist:  I don't really like them.  But I am learning to.  There is hope.  It took me awhile to think cilantro did not taste like soap and now I like it a lot.  But, isn't it supposed to be the other way around?  Isn't the parent supposed to try and get their child to try new foods?  She is a gift.  I tell ya, a real gift.



Reach For A Jar Of Lentils


Here is why you should be like my daughter and ask for lentils:
  • Loaded with magnesium, iron, folate
  • Stabilizes blood sugar levels
  • Very low fat
  • Contains lots of B vitamins
  • Quick and easy to prepare
  • Absorbs a variety of flavors from other foods and seasonings
  • Easy to find 
  • Inexpensive
  • Rich in both forms of fiber: insoluble and soluble
  • Stores easily
  • Looks pretty in a clear jar
  • Adds texture to food



Rosemary Lentils with Tomato and Greens Over Crispy Polenta

Here is a recipe that introduces lentils nicely.  This dish is packed with nutrients, not only from the lentils, but the greens and tomato and rosemary too! Despite the many steps it comes together fairly quickly and both the polenta and lentils can be made ahead and assembled later.


Gather

  • 4 cloves of garlic made into a garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons oil of choice
  • 14 ounces chopped tomato, fresh or canned
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup greens of choice, one of these or a mix: spinach, kale or swiss chard, washed well and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup lentils of choice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup quick cooking organic polenta
  • 3 cups chicken broth or low-fat organic milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon high smoke oil (for sauteing later)



Now do this


To make polenta:
  • Pour chicken broth or milk and water into medium sized pot and bring to a simmer.
  • Slowly add polenta stir.
  • Cook according to package directions.
  • Add salt and pepper and stir again.
  • Pour into greased pan that allows polenta to be at least an inch thick or so.
  • Leave at room temperature to firm for 30 minutes or refrigerate for later use.

To make lentils:
  • Make garlic paste and set aside.  Click on the green link in the ingredients next to garlic to learn how to do that.
  • Using a high smoke oil, heat oil on medium low in large pot and add red pepper flakes and rosemary.  (Click on the green link in the ingredients for possible oil choices.)
  • Stir for a bit and add tomatoes, tomato paste and garlic paste.
  • Add water and lentils.
  • Reduce heat to simmer, cover pot and cook lentils until soft.  This ranges from 20-30 minutes depending on your variety of lentils.
  • Add greens to pot, cover and steam until greens are tender.
  • Add salt to taste and adjust seasonings.

To serve:
  • Cut polenta into 3 inch squares.
  • Heat saute pan and add oil
  • Add polenta squares and lightly brown on both sides to crisp polenta.
  • On each polenta square, spoon about 1/3 cup lentil mixtures on top.
  • Serve at least two polenta squares per person. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.


photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/meanestindian/2179957538/">Meanest Indian</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>


2 comments:

  1. Oh, wow! This sounds really, really good! And, I love that your daughter is such foodie! My kids are some of my best (and sometimes toughest!) taste-testers! I think it's just awesome to get the whole family involved in eating healthfully!

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  2. So do I Shelley. It makes it all worthwhile. So wonderful you are doing it for your family.

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