Being a vegetarian is hard. Being a vegetarian who is super physically active and who used to be a meat eater is even harder. I still crave meat and often think going back to eating meat would be better for my busy lifestyle, but the debilitating headaches aren’t worth it. Since meat is out of the question, besides the occasional fresh white fish, I have to turn to plant-based protein, my favorite being adorable colorful little lentils.
I’m not too sure what the definition of a “superfood” is, but in my opinion lentils should be included. Thirty percent of their calories are protein! They also pack a punch with folate. fiber, iron and thiamine (Vitamin B1) making them a fantastic addition to any woman’s diet. They’ve been eaten for thousands of years and are still a staple in India and other Asian countries. Eating three to four servings of legumes a week lowers the body’s level of homocysteine which is a key player in inflammation and heart disease. A unique quality of lentils is that their internal structure and nutrients are not affected by cooking! Lentils come in different colors the common ones being brown, green, red and black. Green are the most common while black are the most flavorful. My favorite are red because of their mushy texture when cooked.
My favorite way to eat lentils is in soup or in an Indian lentil dish commonly called dal. I threw together this awesome soup this afternoon:
Pressure Cooked Lemony Lentil Soup
1 Qt vegetable stock
3 cups water
2 cups red lentils
1 & ½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
3 crushed garlic gloves
4 chopped carrots
1 tablespoonful curry powder
1 teaspoonful cumin powder
2 teaspoonful Hungarian paprika
½ teaspoonful garam masala
¼ cup chopped cilantro
salt & pepper
Bring the vegetable stock, water and lentils to a boil in pressure cooker pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Place lid on pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Cook on medium pressure for 30 minutes. Release pressure naturally. Remove lid and stir in spices. Cut lemons in half and squeeze the juice into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh cilantro (optional).
If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can just use a plain old pot, making sure to stir occasionally. I prefer pressure cooking because its easy and keeps all of the nutrients in your dish.