We are going to talk a little nuts-and-bolts this week; nothing too philosophical; just good ol’ beans, and specifically lentils. Have you ever heard people talk about pulses and legumes? And you were probably thinking, “What’s up with the fancy words for a freakin’ bean?” So first, let’s shed a little light on the subject of fancy bean words.
Fancy Bean Words
Pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family, and they grow in pods; beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils, are all pulses. Those little seeds are chock full of nutrients and are the real life fountain of youth. They have also been identified as being key to changing our food system. A quote from Pulse Canada below, sums up this idea.
“Pulses will be an important ingredient in the transformation of food systems. They can provide consumers with healthy and environmentally sustainable dietary choices. Pulses are an affordable and sustainable source of dietary protein and have been shown to be an effective dietary strategy for reducing risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. From an environmental perspective, the incorporation of pulses into cropping systems can reduce GHG emissions and improve soil quality. These sustainability benefits are carried through the food chain and lower the carbon footprint of food products made with pulses, pulse ingredients, and other ingredients produced from cropping systems that include pulses.”
Nutritional Content of Lentils
All pulses are amazing for your overall health, but today we are focusing on lentils. Even among beans, lentils are the “cream of the crop”! Lentils are used in many super flavorful dishes at Melita’s Table. They also are loaded with antioxidants. And they come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.
- Brown: Most commonly found in grocery stores. They have a round shape that holds well during cooking. Flavor is earthy.
- Yellow and red: These are split, cook quickly and used for dal recipes.
- Puy: These come from the Le Puy region in France. These are smaller than green lentils and harder to find in the U.S.
- Green: These can vary in size and have a similar shape to brown.
- Beluga: These are tiny black lentils and named for their similar appearance to caviar.
Lentil Taco Meat Recipe
So how can you get more of these amazing pulses into your diet? Lentils are very versatile and have a mild taste, which makes them go well in soups, tacos or stews. I’ve got a super easy, vegan lentil recipe that can be used as a taco filling, for sandwiches or sprinkled on top of nachos. This is an easy way to pack some lentil loveliness into your diet.
Lovely Lentil Taco Meat
- 1 cup uncooked green lentils or one can lentils
- 1 medium clove of garlic
- 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (tip: if you have a toaster oven, spread seeds on a piece of aluminum foil and toast on the lowest setting, until the seeds are fragrant. Watch carefully so they do not burn.)
- 8oz Baby Bella mushrooms
- 1 ½ tsps. dried oregano
- 1 ½ tsps. ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsps. chili powder
- ¾ tsp sea salt, or to taste
Cook the lentils in 3 cups of water, simmering for 20 – 25 minutes, until tender. Drain the lentils and place in food processor. Chop mushrooms in fine pieces and sauté with a bit of oil or water until juicy. Place mushrooms in food processor with lentils. Add rest of ingredients and blend until mixture resembles crumbled taco meat. Adjust seasonings to your liking.
Power to the Pulses!