Lentils are one of the plant-based kitchen ingredients that are exceptionally conducive to a slim, attractive figure. It is perfectly filling, rich in nutrients, low in calories, suitable for both dinner dishes and cold dishes. In fact, the versatility of lentils is huge, which is undoubtedly its great advantage. We can prepare it in countless ways, avoiding culinary boredom.
Table of contents
- 1 Lentils – a plant with outstanding strengths
- 2 Lentils – composition
- 3 Lentils – health promoting properties
- 4 Lentils – types
- 5 Lentils for weight loss
- 6 Lentils – dietary recipes
Lentils – a plant with outstanding strengths
The lentil is a popular legume around the world in the broad bean family, characterized by high nutritional value. It is considered to be one of the oldest cultivated plants, it is said to have been grown over 10,000 years ago. The edible part of the plant are the seeds.
Lentils have several varieties, which differ from each other in taste, color, size, level of hardness and consistency after cooking. The most popular are yellow lentils and red lentils, while green lentils, brown lentils and black lentils are used somewhat less frequently in cooking. Due to the high protein content, lentils are often treated as a substitute for meat in vegetarian diet systems, such as vegan and vegetarian diets.
Lentils – composition
It is a treasure trove of easily digestible protein with a good amino acid composition, but this is only the beginning of its strengths when it comes to nutritional value. In lentils you will also find many minerals important for the proper functioning of our body (potassium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, sodium, phosphorus, copper, manganese) and vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, B vitamins). Lentils also contain dietary fiber and omega 3 and omega 6 acids.
Lentils – health promoting properties
Thanks to the wealth of nutrients, lentils actively support our health. Due to the high content of iron and folic acid, prevents anemia. Thanks to the large amounts of tannins (tannins), protects against the formation of cancer cells. Potassium contained in lentils helps regulate blood pressure, magnesium helps maintain good mental condition, and protein and calcium take care of the health of our bones and muscles.
Dietary fiber, which in lentils can be found in abundance, contributes to lowering cholesterol levels, prevents sudden jumps and falls in blood sugar levels, supports the fight for a slim figure, and also has a positive effect on health and intestinal function. It is worth adding that, in contrast to other legumes, such as beans or peas, lentils are easy to digest and do not cause bloating, constipation or other digestive problems.
Lentils – types
Yellow lentils and red l entils are the most delicate types of the valuable legume. They are fine in texture and very mild in taste. They do not require prior soaking, during cooking they soften quickly and are easily overcooked. In fact, it takes only about 15 minutes of simmering to obtain soft grains, which are very easy to mash with a fork into a purée. Red and yellow lentils are excellent as an ingredient of stuffings, pâtés, vegetable cutlets, pastes. They can also serve as a diet thickener for soups and sauces. Equally well discussed types of lentils find themselves as a base for salads and dinner dishes (for example, as an alternative to rice, potatoes).
Green l entils are endowed with a more definite character. It is harder and larger than yellow and red lentils, it does not fall apart during cooking, instead it retains a loose structure. Green lentils do not need to be soaked, and their cooking time is about 25 minutes. The taste of green lentils is delicate, but not devoid of a slight spiciness. Green lentils can be used in many ways: as an ingredient in fillings (such as dumplings), as a base for spreads and pastes, as an addition to soups, salads, vegetable and meat dishes. Green lentils are also an interesting combination with groats of various varieties.
Black lentils (beluga) also do not disintegrate during cooking, the grains remain perfectly separate and loose. It does not need to be soaked, but it should be cooked for quite a long time (about half an hour). The distinctive flavor of this variety of lentils and its unusual appearance, makes it a very interesting addition to hot dishes and snacks.
The most demanding in processing and the hardest variety of lentils is brown lentil. It is a red lentil, but in unshelled form. Due to the presence of the husk, it is the most nutritionally valuable variety of lentils. Before cooking it should be soaked, preferably for a few hours. The grains of brown lentils do not lose their shape or bulk. Brown lentils have a very strong flavor, perfectly suits one-pot dishes, stews, soups, meat and vegetable sauces, stuffing and salads.
Lentils for weight loss
For people watching their weight or trying to lose extra pounds, dishes with lentils are a great choice. It has a low glycemic index, provides few calories (about 120 kcal in 100 g of cooked lentils), contains little fat and little simple sugars, which are ingredients that cause weight gain. It has a lot of fibre, which has a positive effect on metabolism and regulates carbohydrate metabolism of the body.
Due to the aforementioned dietary fiber, lentils give a long-lasting feeling of satiety and prevent attacks of ravenous hunger, thus protecting us from reaching for excess food. As a fiber product, lentils also take care of the proper work of our intestines. It increases their peristalsis, leading to more efficient excretion of food debris. In this way, it prevents constipation and bloating and contributes to reducing the circumference of the abdominal area.
Lentils – dietary recipes
Dishes with lentils are nutritious and also dietary, provided, of course, that we do not add to them fattening additives! Here are some interesting ideas for dietetic dishes with lentils, which our figure will certainly like.
Rumpy, aromatic cutlets from lentils and mushrooms
Lentil and mushroom cutlets are a great option for a light fit dinner. The dish is quick and easy to prepare, so it is sure to appeal to people with busy schedules. If you want to maximise the calorie content of the lentil cutlets, you can bake them in the oven instead of frying.
- 1 cup dry yellow or red lentils
- 300 g mushrooms
- half a bunch of parsley
- 2 tablespoons of bran
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika and 1 teaspoon hot paprika
- half a teaspoon of thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
- large pinch of ginger
- large pinch of pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- oil for frying
Rinse the lentils and cook in salted water. After cooking cool and crush slightly with a fork. Rinse the mushrooms, peel and grate on large meshes. Chop the parsley. Cut the onion into cubes. Lightly fry the onion in a spoon of oil, add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt and pepper, fry for 2-3 minutes. We combine lentils, onions with mushrooms and parsley. Add pressed garlic. Break the egg, add bran and all the spices, mix thoroughly. The mixture should be compact, so that you can form chops. If it is too loose, you can add a little more bran.
Form into little patties, coat lightly in flour and fry on both sides until browned. If you choose the baking option, put the cutlets on baking paper and place in a preheated to 180 degrees oven for about 30 minutes.
Lentils with vegetables and chicken in a spicy setting
Lentils with chicken and vegetables is a one-pot dish that will intrigue us with its taste, perfectly satisfy hunger, provide plenty of valuable nutrients, while remaining safe for our figure. It consists of only vegetables and the leanest batch of chicken – so can it have a lot of calories?
- 1 glass of green lentils
- 2 peppers
- 2 carrots
- 1 can of corn
- 1 tin of sliced tomatoes in brine
- 2 onions
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 courgette
- 300 ml vegetable bouillon
- chicken breast
- spices: salt, chilli pepper, curry powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, sweet pepper
- 1 spoon of oil
Rinse the lentils and cook in salted water. Cut the bell peppers into strips, the carrots into posts and the onion into feathers. Cut celery into small pieces and dice zucchini. Peel and chop garlic. Wash the chicken breast and cut into cubes. Fry the meat in a spoon of oil. Add the onion and fry for a while. Add peppers and carrots. Fry for another 5 minutes. Add zucchini, celery and garlic, leave in the pan on low heat for another 5 minutes. Place the cooked lentils in a pot, add the fried chicken and vegetables. Pour in the broth. Add tomatoes and corn. Mix all together.
Cook 15-20 minutes, from time to time stirring. In the middle of cooking add a teaspoon of curry, sweet paprika, coriander and oregano and half a teaspoon of chili pepper and cumin. Season with salt. If the dish is not spicy enough, add more chili. If too bland, add a tablespoon of lemon juice.
Black lentils with spinach and sharp cheese – a simple and quick dish for lunch or dinner
Dietetic, quick, easy to prepare, at the same time remarkable and essential – if you are looking for such a dish, black lentils with spinach and sharp cheese (such as Parmesan) is an idea just right for you.
- 1 cup dry black lentils
- 500 g fresh spinach leaves
- a piece of sharp, tangy cheese (e.g. parmesan, grana padano, gorgonzola, rokpol)
- lemon juice
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion
- spices: salt, pepper, ginger, nutmeg
Cook the lentils until soft. Heat up a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion which was previously chopped into small cubes. Add the spinach, stir, wait until the leaves lose their volume. Add pressed garlic and a big pinch of salt, pepper, ginger and nutmeg. Stir. Season with lemon juice. Add cooked lentils to the frying pan and mix. Put the dish on the plate, sprinkle with shredded cheese and you are done.
Delicious lentil paste with colourful additions
Colorful lentil paste with chords of eastern spices is great on sandwiches and toasts or as an addition to snacks. Lentil paste is quick to make and the result is surprisingly good.
- 1 cup yellow lentils
- half a bunch of chives
- 2 flat tablespoons mustard
- 0.5 teaspoon honey to taste
- 1 clove of garlic
- half a red pepper
- a few black olives
- Tbsp olive oil
- spices: salt, chili pepper, turmeric, cumin, curry, ginger, freshly ground black pepper
Cook the lentils until soft, drain, cool and crush with a fork into a pulp. Chop the paprika, chives and olives very finely and add to the lentils. Add also mustard, honey, pressed garlic and spices. Mix thoroughly, season to taste.