Weekly Health Tip: Lentils for Protein

This month, we're featuring warming and immune-enhancing foods for these cold winter days. Last week, we featured winter squash and sweet potato. This week, we're taking a closer look at the delicious lentil. 

If you are vegetarian -- or merely prefer to limit your consumption of animal proteins -- lentils are a very good source of protein. They are also an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, easier to cook than other legumes, high in molybdenum and folate--and last but not least--very tasty and adaptable to different recipes!  They are also rich in iron, manganese, phosphorous, copper, potassium, and Vitamin B1 (thiamine).

The fiber in lentils is filling without being fattening, and contributes to cardiovascular and digestive health and helps reduce diabetes risk. For those already dealing with diabetes, a legume-rich diet is a plus.  In addition to fiber, lentils' high folate content reduces blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to artery damage.

You can whip up an easy and yummy lentil soup in just a few minutes at home! Try this recipe:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 0.5 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 0.5 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 quarts low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 0.5 teaspoon coriander
  • 0.5 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro
Pour olive oil in pot and set the stove on medium heat. Once oil is hot, add onion, carrot, celery, and salt and cook until onions are translucent. Next, add all the remaining ingredients, stir, and cover. Set on high heat and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender (approximately 35-40 minutes). Puree soup if so desired and enjoy! 

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