There’s a lot to love about lentils. These tiny bean-like beads are from the same family tree as legumes, technically making them veggies. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and even flavors—making them a versatile and nutritious add-in to many a meal. These superstar supplements also have an outstanding shelf life. If kept uncooked and stored in a cool, dry place, lentils can last for years. Without further ado, let’s shine some light on these hearty seeds.
Where do Lentils Come From?
What do ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, and Romans have in common? They all had lentils on their menus! For all you archaeology buffs—evidence of lentils were found on the banks of the Euphrates river dating all the way back to 8,000 B.C. These little legumes became the “it” food of the time, making their way into the royal tombs of Thebes in Egypt. Common folk and the upper class alike championed lentils for the ease of prep and versatile flavor. They even have a spotlight in the Bible, starring as a bowl of soup in the story of Genesis.
What are the Health Benefits of Lentils?
If you’re looking to pack some protein into your diet, lentils are the way to go. When combined with whole grains, they can deliver similar protein values as meat. Plant-based eaters and carnivores alike can benefit from these legumes because of their fiber content. A single serving of lentils can help you reach about 32% of your daily fiber requirement. This may help lower cholesterol, boost digestion, and protect against diabetes. Potassium also plays a huge role in their overall nutrition profile. A high-potassium, low-sodium diet can lead to lower blood pressure and more regulated fluid levels.
100 grams (g) of cooked lentils has:
- 116 calories
- 9.02 g of protein
- 0.38 g of fat
- 20.13 g of carbohydrates
- 7.9 g of fiber
Popular Types of Lentils
Green lentils are extremely common in dishes due to their wide availability and mild flavor. They’re great mixed into veggie burgers, soups, and grain bowls.
These lentils are a popular pick. Many people stir them in stews, soups, and chilis.
Red and Yellow:
Many Middle-Eastern and Indian dishes feature this variety. They’re sweeter than other lentils, lending them a totally different flavor.
Also known as French green, are small and round and have a peppery taste.
Although these lentils look like beluga caviar, their taste is far from it. They’re earthy in flavor and are a little tougher in texture, making them perfect for barleys and salads.
How to Cook Lentils
Since lentils are stored dry, you might be a little confused how to bring them back to life. They’ll first need a quick wash to rinse away any dirt and debris. Bring three cups of water or stock to every cup of lentil to a boil. After the liquid starts to bubble, add the lentils, cover with a lid, and let them simmer until tender. Onto the fun part—season, sauce, and shake up as you please! If you’re tight on time but still want to hop on the lentil train, try out our Italian Sausage & Lentil Stew or Farmstead Baked Lentil Pasta.
Don’t let these legumes’ unassuming appearance fool you. Lentils are filling, flavorful, and a fantastic way to add more substance to your meals!