Not exactly a new food, lentils are one of the world’s first cultivated crops as of about 10,000 years ago. They feed many people. India, Canada, Turkey and Australia are major producers. About a quarter of the world’s lentil supply is grown and consumed in India which has inspired an amazing array of savoury lentil dishes we enjoy in Canada. Canada is the world’s largest exporter of lentils, most of them grown in Saskatchewan.
Lentils are a nutritional superstar yet they keep a pretty low profile. As a great source of fibre, they’re helpful for athletes and anyone looking for more sustained energy or improved blood sugar control. They’re a very affordable plant source of protein and nutrients including folic acid and B vitamins. Every one cup serving of cooked lentils supplies 230 calories, 18 grams of protein, 16 grams of fibre and 37% of daily iron requirements. When included in a meal containing vegetables and grains, the protein in lentils is complete. Everyone should eat lentils. For toddlers, they’re a protein source that can be picked up and eaten by small fingers.
Grown in our country and a nutritional gem, their time has definitely come. Lentils are more than worthy of including at least a couple times each week to replace some or all of the animal protein in a meal. Toss them into stews and pasta sauces. Pureed lentils can be used in hummus-like dips to serve with vegetables or grainy crackers or pita as a snack or to use in place of some of the fat in baked goods like cookies, muffins and loaves. They can even be stirred in to thicken soups while boosting the protein. Lentils come in various sizes and colours including red, green, brown and black. To cook dry lentils, simple rinse them and then boil 1 cup lentils to 2-3 cups water as for rice. Find more LOTS more delicious lentil recipe ideas at lentils.ca and enjoy them in every season.
Sesame Lentil Slaw Makes 8 servings
- 3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 3 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 T sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 tsp sodium-reduced soy sauce
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 2 cups cooked green lentils
- 3 cups green or Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced or grated
- 3 cups purple cabbage, thinly sliced or grated
- 6 green onions, sliced diagonally
- 2 medium carrots, grated
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- In a glass jar or container with lid, shake together rice vinegar, canola and sesame oil, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sugar. Drizzle about half the dressing over the lentils and allow to marinate in fridge overnight or while you assemble the remainder of the salad.
- In a large bowl, combine both cabbages, onion, carrots and sesame seeds. Drizzle over remaining dressing and toss well. Sprinkle marinated lentils on top to serve.
- Optional: top with a grilled skewer of prawns, tofu or chicken satay.
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