Who loves lentils?
You do? Great! Feel free to skip the following words and go straight to the recipe below (I won’t be offended!). For those of you who aren’t so sure, stick with me and let me shed some more light on this curious little legume… Lentils have been a food source for humans for over 8000 years, considered for most of that time as ‘food of the poor people’. It wasn’t until Hippocrates, the ‘father of western medicine’ began prescribing lentils to his patients suffering with liver ailments, that people began to take notice of this health-supportive food.
These days, lentils are viewed as an incredibly beneficial protein source, second only to soybean which houses the most protein of all beans. Packed with immune-supportive minerals including calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, folacin, iron and potassium, lentils are a brilliant cholesterol-lowering fibre source that fills you up, not out!
For years I avoided lentils because I thought they would make me gain weight and feel bloated. I created an uneducated foodie fiasco in my head that made me miss out on all this deliciousness…until now! I began eating lentils again this year, mainly because I was experiencing terrible leg cramps in the middle of the night. Have you ever experienced this? If you have, you would know how excruciatingly awful the pain can be… If you haven’t, count yourself lucky because you’re missing out on feeling as if someone has plunged a knife deep into your calf muscle and left it there. ‘OUCH!’ is an understatement.
Naturally, I set about researching what was going on with me and what I could do to fix it. A routine blood test is aways the fastest route to uncovering anything suspect – mine indicated I was deficient in magnesium. So, I simply focused on getting more of it into my diet, learning that it’s (by far!) the most important mineral required in our body. After oxygen, water, and food, magnesium is the most important element we need to survive and thrive. Did you know it’s even more important than calcium, potassium or sodium? You do now!
When magnesium is low in the body, veins and arteries typically constrict and mess with our flow – blood flow that is! If you’ve ever experienced leg cramps, foot pain or muscle twitches you may need more magnesium in your life! More severe signs of magnesium deficiency can include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, numbness, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms, and coronary spasms. Scary right? Well, not so much anymore because you can reverse this issue before it wreaks real havoc to your health. How? By eating REAL, whole, natural foods that are high in magnesium – starting with lentils.
I hope you enjoy what I offer below, it’s my version of a tasty little treat I recently made at school. I love that it encompasses green beans, onions and some lovely, tasty spices. I have suggested a yummy mix below – take a look and if there’s something there that doesn’t float your boat, change it up! Life is so much more fun when we embrace change in everything we do – our routines and food should change every now and then to keep things fun. The original recipe I worked with at school was great, but after a few tweaks here and there, I made it even better – according to my tastes! If you see an ingredient in the recipe below you don’t fancy, swap it for something else. With that said, leave the lentils ‘as is’ because they work so well!
Lovely French Lentil Salad
- 1 cup French lentils, rinsed and drained
- 4 cups water
- 1⁄2 tsp celtic or himalayan sea salt
- 1 tbs fresh garlic, chopped
- 1⁄4 tsp fennel seed
- 1⁄4 tsp cumin seed
- 170g green beans blanched and shocked then cut in half
- 60g red onion (about 1/2) chopped small
- 100g fresh fennel chopped small
- 1⁄4 cup sundried tomatoes re-hydrated in warm water then drained, and chopped small
- 2 tbs chopped basil
- 2 tbs chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves
- 1⁄4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
- 2 sundried tomatoes, re-hydrated in hot water and drained
- 30g shallots, peeled and chopped small
- 3 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbs chopped basil
- 1 tbs 100% maple syrup (or you can use brown rice syrup)
- 1⁄4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1⁄4 tsp Celtic sea salt
- 1⁄4 tsp ground black pepper
- 6 tbs macadamia oil (or you can use extra virgin olive oil)
- Combine lentils in pot with water, salt, and garlic. Cover and bring contents to boil. Once boiling, simmer with lid ajar until lentils are tender but not mushy (takes about 30 minutes). Drain lentils and keep in bowl, ready to combine with dressing
- In your blender, combine all dressing ingredients and blend until creamy. Pour dressing over lentils and combine well
- Add green beans, red onion, fennel, and sundried tomatoes to the mix. Garnish with basil, cilantro and chopped walnuts
- Eat, enjoy and be merry