It’s 80 degrees here in NJ and I’m LOVING IT! With the advent of warm weather comes not only clothing changes, but meal changes in our home…It’s time to shelf my many soup ideas for the next few months and bring forward meals that are more seasonally appropriate! So I’ve brought back out the lentils (which I often use for soups) and I’ve made a few salads to celebrate our spring/summer days. Are you a fan of lentils? I love these legumes for their versatility and nutrient dense properties. And lets face it – who’d doesn’t get tired of chicken, salmon, tuna as their protein of choice? Other than a great source of protein, lentils are packed with additional health benefits:
They are great for weight loss and keeping you satisfied throughout the day because the soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing down digestion and stabilizing blood sugar levels. The fiber in lentils helps to prevent constipation, and they are high in iron, which transports oxygen throughout your body is key to energy production and metabolism. Lentils are also a great source of folate and magnesium, which are big contributors to heart health! Interestingly magnesium could often times be the reason for cramping – from time to time I’ll get leg/food cramps and have learned that magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. So when I think cramping, I think Magnesium deficiency = lentils! Lastly, for those watching their waistline, there is essentially zero fat in lentils (although healthy fats are essential to weight loss) and low in calories (about 230 cal. in one cup of cooked lentils). So get cooking and embrace these legumes this season
Here are two recipes that I’ve made recently. VERY easy. If you have 20 minutes to allow the lentils to cook, and a few more to chop veggies and toss some dressing, this is a great salad to prepare on the weekends and bring to work for lunch or pair with something for dinner.
Greek Lentil Salad:
Makes 6 to 8 servings
What you’ll need:
- 2 cups lentils (whichever color you like!)
- 2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- ½ pint of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 3 persian cucumbers, cut in ¼ inch cubes
- 6-8 oz feta cheese
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 6 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- salt & pepper to taste
1. Place the lentils in a saucepan with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil (and one bay leaf if you have it -remember to discard after the cooking process). Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Strain and set aside.
2. Whisk olive oil, zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. It should be well seasoned as it will be tossed with the rest of the ingredients.
3. Add 1/2 the vinaigrette to the lentils and allow lentils to fully cool. When cooled, add the chopped parsley, onion, tomatoes, cucumber & feta and remaining dressing.
Lentil, Kale & Apple Salad:
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 2 cups of chopped kale, stems trimmed, thick inner ribs removed
- 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 medium-sized Granny Smith Apple chopped into small cubes
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1 medium clove raw garlic, grated
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Follow the same steps above used for the Greek Lentil Salad. For those of you who are not fans of raw kale, you may want to sauté your chopped kale in a saucepan coated with some olive oil for a few minutes until the leafy green begins to soften. I actually did do this on the last go-around and it created a much more palatable kale, in my opinion.
For more recipes visit http://www.chrissydavenport.com/recipes.html