2021: The Year of the Lentil
Although my family may not be as excited about this self-proclaimed lentil banner year, I’m so excited to put this underrated legume to use in many of our traditionally meat-based meals, starting with this Spinach Lentil Dal meal. Let’s take a look at why lentils are so exciting from a nutrition standpoint.
Where to even begin?? These little legumes pack a powerful punch!
Beneficial to your native gut microbiome, just one serving (1/4 cup dry or 1/2 cup cooked) contains 4 – 9 grams of fiber. Women should consume 25 grams of fiber daily, while men’s recommendations are 38 grams. That means just one serving of lentils is 16 – 36% daily requirements for women or 11-24% for men!
When combined with a whole grain, lentils are a complete protein. One serving provides a bumper 12 grams. Not only does this provide a necessary macronutrient, but it also leaves us feeling full longer.
This water-soluble B-vitamin helps support red blood cell production. It’s particularly important for women of childbearing age for blood volume support and neural tube development of baby.
One serving of lentils provides 15% of the average person’s daily needs of iron. Iron is used in the production of hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs all over the body.
An underrated mineral, manganese plays a role in metabolism, blood clotting, and bone integrity.
While not super flavorful on their own, lentils are a great carrier of flavor without requiring long marinating times. Bring on the spices!
One pound of lentils yields just under 6 cups of prepared beans, or 12 servings. That’s a great value!
If you’ve even following along with our blog this month, you have been learning about nutrient-dense, fiber-filled foods and how you can slowly begin adding them into your diet. Why not give this plant-based Spinach Lentil Dal meal a try this week?!
2 Tbsp oil (ghee preferred)
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped, or paste
1 medium jalapeño, finely chopped
1 tsp black mustard seeds – alternative option 1 tsp dry mustard or a hefty tsp of turmeric powder
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp garam masala
1 lb baby spinach, fresh or frozen
10 mint leaves
2 Tbsp water, for wilting if using fresh spinach
¾ cup water
1.5 cups dry black lentils, alternative brown or French
2 cups rice
1 tsp salt
Optional: Naan, additional yogurt to top
- Cook lentils according to package – can use the pasta method. Bring a pot of water to a boil and season with salt. Cook for 20 minutes uncovered until al dente but cooked through. Drain in colander and rinse under cold water.
- Prepare rice of choice according to package/your liking. Basmati is traditional. A pressure cooker consistently makes a great pot of rice.
- While lentils and rice cook, make the spinach sauce: Sautee onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. Sautee until fragrant and golden. Mix in mustard seed, cumin seed, and garam masala and allow to cook for two minutes. Lower heat and add fresh spinach, mint, and 2 Tbs water. Cover for 2-3 minutes allowing spinach to wilt with a few stirs.
- Blend spinach sauce in blender and the remaining ¾ cup water until smooth. If you prefer a little texture, pulse until it reaches your desired chunkiness. Pour sauce back into pan on low heat.
- Add lentils to green sauce, season with salt and top with yogurt.
- Serve over rice.
Written by Lorilyn Van Dyke, Entegro Health