Lentils: A Super Food to Love

LentilsDay 20.

Hard to believe we are almost finished with the 31 Days of Wellness. Don’t fear, there are 334 days in the year left afterwards.

There is a very nice entry from the New York Times Recipe for Health section, that features an assortment of healthful recipes you should all bookmark and check in with from time to time. Today I chose the entry on Lentils.

If you have lentils, you have dinner. This high-fiber, protein-rich legume cooks in 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the dish, and requires no soaking. Lentils are the basis for many starters and salads, soups and stews, side dishes and Middle Eastern pastas. The distinctive flavor has been adapted to a variety of classic cuisines, from France to the Mediterranean, from India to Mexico and North America.

The usual supermarket offerings are brown lentils, but there are other varieties and they’re all worth looking out for. Chefs prefer the pricier small black “beluga” lentils (in their raw state they glisten like caviar, but the resemblance stops there) and the firm green Le Puy lentils from France, because when cooked both types stay intact and maintain a firmer texture. But the flavors of all three are similar enough to make them interchangeable in this week’s recipes.

Red lentils, available in Indian and Mediterranean markets, have a different taste, more akin to dried favas or split peas, and a very different texture when cooked, so do not attempt to substitute these for the brown, black or green varieties.

One fact worth noting: unlike other beans, lentils do not contain sulfur, the gas-producing element in legumes. And in addition to being an excellent source of soluble fiber and a good source of protein, manganese, iron, phosphorous, copper, vitamin B1 and potassium, lentils are an excellent source of molybdenum, a mineral important in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and iron. — Martha Rose Shulman

Like so many foods, the key message all of us are stressing is the need to experiment, and leave your comfort zone of what you are used to. Discuss it over with your family, and each week select one new vegetable to try. If you don’t like it, try another.

Send me your feedback, and share your experience. Keep trying.

Dr. Joe Galati

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