Lentils are low in calories and high in nutrition. They are easy to cook, and a hassle-free compliment to any meal. Nutty and earthy in flavor, lentils have a high nutritional value that anyone can benefit from by incorporating this healthy legume into their diet.
Let’s look at lentils benefits and a lentil stew recipe, which you can make vegetarian or not.
Brown lentils are used Ayurvedically according to their qualities. They pacify Pitta and Kapha dosha and could aggravate Vata due to their astringent taste which promotes dryness. Like all food, brown lentils have medicinal properties too. They act as an appetite suppressant and do not cause weight gain. They are nutritive (strengthening and nourishing), and they contain high fiber.
Eat lentils and reap their health benefits.
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1. Lower Cholesterol
Lentils help to reduce blood cholesterol since it contains high levels of soluble fiber. Lowering your cholesterol levels reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke by keeping your arteries clean.
2. Heart Health
Several studies have shown that eating high fiber foods like lentils reduces your risk of heart disease. Lentils are also a great source of folate and magnesium, which are big contributors to heart health. Folate lowers your homocysteine levels, a serious risk factor for heart disease. Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Low levels of magnesium have been directly associated with heart disease, so eating lentils will keep your heart happy!
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3. Digestive Health
Insoluble dietary fiber found in lentils helps prevent constipation and other digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.
4. Stabilized Blood Sugar
Adding to the many benefits of fiber, soluble fiber traps carbohydrates, slowing down digestion and stabilizing blood sugar levels. This can be especially helpful for those with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.
5. Good Protein
Of all legumes and nuts, lentils contain the third-highest levels of protein. 26 percent of lentil’s calories are attributed to protein, which makes them a wonderful source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
6. Increases Energy
Lentils increase steady, slow-burning energy due its fiber and complex carbohydrates. Lentils are also a good source of iron, which transports oxygen throughout your body and is key to energy production and metabolism.
7. Weight Loss
Although lentils include all these beneficial nutrients like fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins, they are still low in calories and contain virtually no fat. One cup of cooked lentils only contains about 230 calories, but still leaves you feeling full and satisfied.
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Here’s a delicious recipe using lentils. It’s healthy, hearty, high in protein and low in calories. You can use meat in this recipe or keep it vegetarian. When you omit the meat and keep it vegetarian it becomes a detox dish. Eat it alongside rice or on its own as a thick soup. If you try it, let me know in the comments below how it turns out!
1 pound beef stew cubes
1 medium-large yellow or white onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
2-3 large carrots, diced (2/3 cup)
2-3 large celery stalks, diced (2/3 cup)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
2-3 cups brown or green dry lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove anything that shouldn’t be there (like a small rock for example)
3 cups water
3 cups stock* (chicken, vegetable or you can substitute water for a total of 6 cups of liquid)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (can substitute cider vinegar or lemon juice)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, with a little extra for garnish
1 tablespoon olive oil to sauté
* If cooking gluten-free, use gluten-free stock.
1. Cook the beef cubes as you would usually do and set them aside.
2. Heat the olive oil on medium high and add the carrots, onions, celery, ground coriander, turmeric and cumin. Stirring frequently, cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant.
3. Add in the cooked beef cubes, the rinsed lentils, stock, water, thyme and bay leaf. At this point add a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. You will season more to taste later. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.
4. Add the sherry vinegar or lemon juice and parsley to the stew. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. You may need to add more salt than you expect, especially if you are making the stew with water only and not water and stock. And if you want it hearty make it all with stock.
* You can certainly play with the quantity of the spices according to taste. More cumin can be nice.
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