The Healthy Lunchbox: Lentil Goodness
In our recent article The Healthiest Diet: Eat Like a Mediterranean, we highlighted the importance of healthy foods like lentils and beans. Lentils, beans, and peas are all part of the legume family. Lentils in particular are a good source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, folate, and a number of other vitamins and minerals (Mayo Clinic).
Lentils are also affordable, easy to prepare, and will last for a long time in your pantry. When cooked properly, lentils have a pleasant, but mild, nutty and earthy taste. They can also be added to various other dishes, including chili, soups, and salads for a healthy kick of protein.
✿ While lentils are a healthier option for protein compared to meat, lentils are not a complete source of protein because they lack two essential amino acids. This may be of concern to vegans or vegetarians. So, if you do follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, be sure to combine cooked lentils with a grain like rice. Brown rice has more nutrients than white rice. For more information on the health benefits of lentils and other legumes, including what foods to mix lentils with to achieve a full protein profile, click here.
This week’s healthy lunchbox features a lentil and rice pilaf with a side of veggies, fruits, and nuts.
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 cup rice
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 yellow onion
- Olive Oil
- Chop the onions and brown them in olive oil.
- Sort through the lentils and pick out the discolored pieces. Wash them thoroughly under running water.
- Add 1 cup of lentils to the browned onions and saute for a couple of minutes.
- Add 2 cups of water and a dash of salt to the mix and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook until all of the water has been absorbed. The lentils should be soft, but not too squishy or too firm.
- Let cool.
- Wash rice thoroughly under running water and cook separately by adding 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water to a cooking pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat until the water has fully absorbed and let cool.
- When both the rice and lentils have cooled, mix them together and enjoy!
We love lentils so much, we are featuring two more ways to serve lentils to your little ones below!
Lentils with a dallop of yogurt: cook the same way as above without mixing with rice. Let it cool and add a dallop of whole, plain yogurt for a tasty and refreshing dish.
Lentil Cakes or Nuggets: Cook the lentils as described above and let them cool. Combine lentils with a quarter cup of bread crumbs, one whole egg, and your choice of herbs and spices. Mash with a potato masher or run it through the food processor (or blender) until everything is well mixed and has a slightly mushy appearance. Make little cutlets (or nuggets), coat them in a thin layer of bread crubs, and bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees or until the nuggets have firmed. Enjoy!