I am often surprised when people always default to pasta or rice for a quick and easy meal. Year round, I find that lentils can be more versatile, more effortless, and cheaper than almost any other pantry staple. Lentils take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked in, so you can take these nutritional superstars in a variety of directions using whatever you have on hand. Lentils make fantastic comfort food, but can also be a light, refreshing meal depending on how they are prepared. Before we dive into the many ways to prepare lentils, let’s explore these little legumes in a bit more detail.

  • Lentils date back more than 10,000 years, as one of the first crops domesticated in the Fertile Crescent.
  • The word “lentil” comes from the Latin term “lens”, as lentils are shaped like the double convex optic lens.
  • Lentils come in an assortment of types, varying in flavor, texture, and color.
  • Lentils are incomplete proteins, missing two essential amino acids. To make them a complete protein, pair with whole grains (similar to the well-known combination of rice and beans).
  • One of the cheapest sources of protein you can find, lentils are a good alternative to meat and fish. A cup of cooked lentils contains around 18g of protein, which is comparable to a 3oz serving of salmon.
  • A half-cup of lentils contains 8 grams of fiber. You’d have to swallow 20 Metamucil capsules to get that amount of fiber. Eating real food is so much more enjoyable.
  • While lentils are grown throughout the world, Canada now leads with the highest production, followed by India and Australia.

And without further ado here are Oldways’ ideas for 12 Great Ways to use Lentils!

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