Livin’ La Vida Lenteja

Katie Clark, MPH, RD, CDE
Katie is a consultant dietitian and freelance writer in San Diego, CA. Fed up with telling people what not to eat – Katie focuses on what we all can eat more of: high fiber foods. Check out Katie’s blog on dietary fiber or follow her on Twitter @fiberfriendly.

Much of the geographical focus of the Mediterranean Diet centers on the cuisine and lifestyle in Greece and Italy. But don’t forget about Spain, which also borders the Mediterranean Sea. And when it comes to fresh, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, the Spaniards are no slouches!

For example, take lentils – or lentejas, as they are called in Spanish. These high-protein legumes are a staple in many dishes throughout the various regions of Spain. In addition to being protein-packed, lentils are a very good source of dietary fiber, and contain iron, phosphorus, copper, folate and manganese.

If you are trying to adopt the Mediterranean Diet principle of cutting back on animal fats and protein – look no further than lentils. With 115 calories, 9 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per ½-cup serving, lentils are a hearty addition to any meal that will fill you up without filling you out.

Want to start experimenting with lentils today? Check out this Spanish Lentils with Vegetables recipe, courtesy of Wendy Jo Peterson and the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies.

Spanish Lentils with Vegetables

Adapted from recipe by Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RD, from Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, mashed


4 ounces Spanish chorizo or Portuguese sausage (linguiça)
2 cups dried green lentils
1 medium tomato, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced in ½-inch rounds
1 large potato, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
Salt to taste


1. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.

2. Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes. Add the dried lentils, chopped tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and spinach and sauté for 3 minutes.

3. Pour the stock over the vegetable mixture, season with the cumin, paprika, and bay leaf, and bring mixture to a boil. Drop the temperature to medium-low and simmer the lentil mixture for 30 minutes or until tender. Season with salt to taste, remove the bay leaf, and serve.


Nutrition per serving: Calories 353 (from fat 11); Fat 12g (Saturated 3g); Cholesterol 12mg; Sodium 234mg; Carbohydrate 43g (Dietary Fiber 7g); Protein 19g.

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