Last Updated on July 31, 2019
Did you know that a regular 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 and fiber from your food.
I will also reveal to you my ultimate legume soup recipe. 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, fiber and 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 lentils 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.
Perfect legumes for an 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 the red types.
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.
Fiber-rich proteins 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, they 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.
Tip: If you want to further increase your fiber intake make sure to check out my popular list of high fiber foods!
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 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.
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 legumes intake.
You want to make it a habit to eat legumes once a week.
- Use your weekly meal plan as a trigger
- Include a lentil dish in your meal plan once per week
- Choose one of my red lentil recipes below or research another easy legume recipe.
Red lentil recipe ideas
This easy red lentil soup recipe is one of our absolute favorite one-pot meals. It is easy to prepare and can be ready within 30 minutes.
Besides my simple soup, there are a whole bunch of other quick and easy recipes to support you. 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 creative pasta. Click here to try out my flavorful red lentil pasta recipe.
If you love the Indian kitchen then you must try the delicious Garam Masala Dal.
Fiber-rich legume alternatives
There are many legumes to choose from, which gives many possibilities for variation. Peas, chickpeas, brown beans, red kidney beans, and soybeans are other great high fiber legumes. 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.
Fearing flatulence? Don't give up too early!
Fact is, cooking with legumes can provoke flatulence giving you the impression that you don't tolerate pulses very well. Put some caraway or cilantro in your dish to improve salubriousness.
Another thing I can promise: The more often you include legumes in your nutrition the better your body gets used to it. Don't give up too early. Over time your body creates more beneficial gut bacteria that help you better digest your beans and lentils while reducing flatulence.