Lentils are a staple in the Indian cuisine, and a main protein source for those who follow a vegetarian diet. There are many varieties available and the colors and textures are as varied as their individual tastes. Typically, lentils can range from an assortment of hues from green, black, brown, orange, red, to yellow and gold. And though each type features its own unique flavor, all are packed with protein, fiber, iron and folate.
For the most part, lentils can be prepared fairly quickly with cooking times ranging from 20- 45 minutes. They can be consumed whether hot or cold, although in Indian cuisine, most lentil dishes will be served hot. And while they may not look very hearty, lentils will often satisfy the most indulgent appetites. In addition to offering excellent nutritional value, lentils are also an affordable option for everyone and they are as easy to store as they are to cook.
Plus there are a number of health benefits associated with adding lentils into the diet. Namely, these benefits can range from lowering cholesterol, regulating blood pressure and preventing heart disease among many others. So here are a few different ways to incorporate lentils into the diet:Dal:
For Indian food fans, lentils go by the name of dal and are typically prepared as thick, hearty stews. Dals are the easiest types of food to make as the cooking process does not require much more than cooking the lentils in water or broth with a few essential like onions, tomatoes and some Indian spices. Most dals are served with either a serving of rice or chapatti / flat bread.Salads:
But lentils are not restricted to making dals only and can be incorporated in healthy meal ideas in a variety of other ways. For instance, certain lentils that hold their shape well such as the green and red ones can be prepared and mixed into any type of salad. Lentil salads can be packed with so much nutrition and be so hearty that thy can serve as a complete meal on their own.Meat alternative:
Likewise, lentils can also be a most suitable alternative for ground beef in recipes like tacos, meatballs, burgers, and even shepherd’s pie. For those people who follow a vegetarian or vegan way of eating substituting lentils for ground beef offers an excellent solution to enjoy their favorite dishes without compromising on its nutritional value or taste.
When replacing meat with such alternatives, lentils are also an effective way of reducing the amount of saturated fat intake that is otherwise consumed.Entrees:
Served on their own, lentils may be relegated as a side dish, but when paired with rice or veggies, the dish instantly becomes a nourishing and substantial entrée. In fact many world cuisines, including Indian, Mediterranean and Lebanese use this formula for a number of their appetizing entrées.Soups:
This goes without saying but lentils soups are the best. They can be paired with vegetables or mushrooms to devise creative blends of hearty flavor and offer excellent nutrition.
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