When you’re looking to decrease the animal products in your diet, one of the first questions you might ask is, “How will I get enough protein?” Plant-based protein isn’t actually all that hard, but the question underneath that question is really often, “What can I replace meat with as a filling and satisfying entree?” The cheap, delicious, sustainable option that many people are less familiar with is lentils.
What are lentils?
Lentils are seeds! Technically, they’re seeds of plants in the legume family and are also called pulses. We treat them like a bean/grain hybrid in the kitchen, but at heart, they’re seeds. A more familiar example of a pulse is the humble and ubiquitous chickpea.
Why should we eat lentils?
Pulses are one of the most environmentally-friendly sources of proteins, getting a mention in the World Wildlife Fund’s Future 50 Foods report on foods we should be eating to save the planet. They’re nutrient dense, providing 8.6 grams of protein and 14% of your daily fiber in a single serving along with important nutrients like folate and iron. And, quite frankly, they’re delicious.
How should we eat lentils?
We’ve covered the under-loved lentil in the past, covering types of lentils and cooking methods, and that article is worth reading if you’re new to lentils because they come in a wide variety of colors, cook times, and textures. For satisfying vegan flavor, these are my favorite tricks:
- Use Marmite as you would soup base, dissolving 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces of water to create a vegan broth bursting with umami and substitute anywhere a recipe calls for broth.
- Sprinkle classic herbed lentils with nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan cheese…better nutritional balance and no melty cheese to scrub off your utensils!
- Get comfy with using mirepoix and bouquet garni. They’re classic methods for imparting flavor to a dish that are especially worth mastering in vegan cooking.
Dates and herbs make this dish, made with soft red lentils, an absolute treat.View recipe »
This recipe is worth every bit of effort and can stock your freezer with wraps for easy lunches for weeks.View recipe »
Last week’s tip: Vegan Cheesin’
Next week’s tip: Vegan Treats