How to incorporate legumes in your meal plan easily
Did you know that lentil nutrition is an effective way to support your clean eating habits. If weight management is your goal, then this week’s challenge is crucial for you! The same is true if you struggle to get a sufficient amount of protein from your food.
I will also reveal to you my ultimate red lentil soup recipe including a short video tutorial. I think it is the most perfect and clean dish to implement legumes in your meal planning – and it’s quick and easy.
What are legumes?
Legumes are plants with seed pods that split into two halves. Examples of edible seeds from plants in the legume family are lentils, beans, peas, and soybeans.
Lentil nutrition facts
Lentils, like all legumes, are small powerhouses that are beneficial to your health. Nutrition experts and medicines appreciate them because of their high amount of nutrients headed by a considerable portion of plant protein:
25% (25.5 g/0.9 ounces) plant protein per 100 g/3.5 ounces
This is an impressive ratio! No wonder that lentils are especially popular in both vegetarian and vegan kitchens.
You can enjoy lentil nutrition pretty much year round. These seeds are very affordable, nutrient-dense, super versatile and you can store them packaged in your pantry or on your cupboard shelf for up to a year.
Once you’ve tried my favorite red lentil soup recipe, however, I guarantee they won’t last that long.
Red Lentils – perfect legumes for a 80:20 clean eating lifestyle
The most common kinds of lentils are brown, green and red lentils. For a lean jumpstart, my recommendation is to focus on red lentils.
1 cup of red lentils contains a highly nutritious 230 calories. Though all lentils provide great health benefits, red lentils cook up more quickly and taste the nuttiest and sweetest – in my mind, at least!
Another advantage: Unlike beans, or their sturdier green and brown lentil cousins, you don’t need to soak them in water overnight to speed up the cooking process or ease digestion.
And yet red lentils can compete with brown lentils regarding energy density and nutrient content.
Valuable lentil nutrition: Protein with a high satiety effect
Meals with red lentils provide a high satiety effect and are ideal for all weight conscious individuals on a clean eating diet. Apart from their high protein content, lentils are low in fat and high in fiber.
Your body is forced to absorb the complex carbohydrates from legumes slowly. This has a beneficial effect on your blood sugar level too.
In addition, legumes are top suppliers for minerals like iron, potassium, magnesium and phosphor as well as for vitamins K, C, E and some B vitamins.
How to cook lentils
Lentils should be rinsed before cooking to remove impurities.
The cooking time for red lentils is 10 to 25 minutes, depending on how soft and disintegrated you want them. Don’t overcook them or else you risk destroying nutrients.
While cooking, they usually turn from orange to a lighter yellow color and fall apart into a smooth, mush-like consistency.
That makes them a perfect companion for soups, stews, Indian dals and other curries.
Tip: If you are cooking a stew with legumes, eat a slice of whole grain bread with it, or add some whole grain noodles or rice to the dish. By doing so, you consume them together with grains which, in return, results in a high quality combination for your body.
Lentil Nutrition Baby Steps: How to incorporate a red lentils recipe into your weekly diet
Below is a simple 3-step habit change that will help you automate your lentils intake.
You want make it a habit to eat legumes once a week.
Step 1: Use your weekly meal plan as a trigger
Step 2: Include a lentil dish in your meal plan once per week
Step 3: Print out my healthy lentil soup recipe below, or research another easy legume recipe – see my suggestions below.
My Ultimate Red Lentil Soup Recipe: Quick & Easy
On the web you’ll find many recipes for making lentil soup. The following simple, vegetarian lentil soup recipe is one I cook at least two times per month. Big advantage: Most of the ingredients are staples that I have at home any way.
- 1 tsp water or extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 1 carrot sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 medium potato in small cubes (200 g/7 ounces)
- 4 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
- 1 cup dry red lentils (250 g/8.1 ounces)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp dried coriander
- dash salt
- 2 tbsp vinegar
- In a large pot, sauté the carrots and onions in water/olive oil for three minutes, until the onions turn clear. Add the vegetable broth, potato cubes, red lentils, pepper, coriander and salt and let it come to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are soft, which should take about 20 - 25 minutes. Stir in vinegar before serving. Makes four servings.
- Great Tip: Serve it with some whole grain bread for the best possible bioavailability.
- As garnish I used frozen parsley because I didn't have fresh one, it looks and tastes of course way better with fresh parsley;)
Video: How to make a Clean Eating Lentil Soup
Don’t miss my short video (1:10 Min) below where I show how you can easily cook this clean eating red lentil soup. Enjoy!
Cooking with Lentils – Other Quick and Easy Recipe Ideas
Besides my simple lentil soup, there are a whole bunch of other quick and easy recipes to support lentil nutrition. Once a month I include red lentil rice as a yummy side dish in my meal planning. From time to time, I also opt for a delicious lentil salad or a creative lentil pasta.
There are many legumes to choose from, which gives many possibilities for variation. Peas, chickpeas, brown beans, red kidney beans and soy beans are other great options for legume recipes – but most of these are not as quick to prepare as red lentils. Luckily, the 80:20 approach allows you to store some not-so-clean kidney bean cans as an instant base for a seldom, but super quick, chili con carne.
On a side note: Cooking with lentils or other legumes can provoke flatulence. Put some caraway or coriander in your dish to improve salubriousness.
Do you know of any easy red lentil soup recipes?
I’m very curious about your lentil nutrition. Please share your lentil recipe ideas with us in the comments below.