I love lentils! I have been making lentil soups for years, but I wanted to make a lentil dish also suitable to the warm weather seasons. French lentils hold their shape and texture, which makes them a great ingredient for a salad. This is my first lentil salad creation, which evolved into several variations–and it’s great any time of year.
1 cup dry French lentils, rinsed and drained
1½ cups water
½ vegetable bouillon cube
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped red or white onion
4 tablespoons chopped sweet bell pepper (about ½ of a small pepper)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Fresh lemon juice from ½ of a lemon, or to taste
Black pepper, to taste
In a medium-size pot add lentils, water and bouillon. Cook on medium–high heat for about 25 minutes, or until lentils are tender but not overly done (al dente, not mushy). Add a little more water if needed, but just a little at a time. Make sure lentils are cooked and water is absorbed. When done, put lentils into medium-size bowl. Allow to cool and then add remaining ingredients. Stir together until well combined. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature. Serves 4.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Lentils should be rinsed before cooking. Like any legume, soaking lentils overnight and discarding the water helps speed up the cooking process and helps remove impurities.
- Protein– Lentils are rich in protein, which is well known to the vegetarian and vegan communities. In fact, a 1 cup serving of lentils provides nearly 40% of your daily recommended value of protein, and you will only be getting 230 calories for that entire cup!
- Iron– Often another big problem for vegetarians and vegans is getting enough iron in their diets. Lentils provide iron, without the fat and cholesterol associated with red meat. Women, especially pregnant women, and children should be especially careful to get adequate amounts of iron as their needs are greater.
- Fiber– Lentils are another great vegetable source of fiber, and their high fiber content helps you to feel full with less food. High fiber legumes like lentils are especially useful for those trying to stabilize blood sugar levels, as your metabolism burns them very slowly over time. The fiber is also effective in lowering blood cholesterol.
- Anti-oxidants– Lentils contain anti-oxidants similar to those in tea, red wine and other foods.
- Heart-Healthy– In addition to the fiber, magnesium and folate, a B vitamin, are found in lentils and very important nutrients to heart health.
French green lentils do not require soaking, and they are also more resistant to falling apart while being cooked. When it comes to your health, French green lentils contain several nutrients and have specific benefits. Carbs come in the form of simple and complex. Simple carbs cause a fast spike in blood sugar levels followed by a fast release of insulin. This in turn promotes weight gain. Complex carbs, on the other hand, digest slowly and give you a steady stream of energy. This causes a slow release of insulin. Legumes have a high amount of complex carbs.
- High Fiber Content: French green lentils are chock-full of soluble fiber. A 1-cup serving contains 16 grams. Soluble fiber, which is absorbed in water, forms a gel inside the intestinal walls when consumed. Not only does this help regulate blood glucose levels, but it also helps lower cholesterol. Men up to age 50 should aim for at least 38 grams of total fiber a day, and men over 51 should get at least 30 grams. Women 50 years old or younger should get at least 25 grams and women over 51 should aim for at least 21 grams.
- Protein: French green lentils have a high amount of protein. However, unlike animal sources, they are not complete proteins because they do not contain all of the essential amino acids. One cup of lentils contains 36 grams of protein. The daily recommended intake of protein is 56 grams for men 19 to 70 years old and 46 grams for women in this same age group.
- Fat and Cholesterol: A diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol increases cholesterol levels and promotes the build-up of plaque inside the arteries. French green lentils are both fat and cholesterol free.
- Iron and Vitamin C: Iron is commonly found in animal protein. This mineral is important for the transport of oxygen through the body. Legumes in general have a high iron content, which is beneficial in non-meat diets. One cup of French green lentils contains 100 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts immunity and promotes healthy connective tissue.