The last few weeks were all about packing and organizing things, as we moved to a new place, the last time before finally moving in our new apartment that we’re renovating. I can’t wait to finally have my own place! Those of you who’ve lived in rented places know very well the hustle and bustle of moving from one place to another, so you can imagine that with so many things to do, I didn’t have much time to go to the market and cook proper food, so we were pretty much stuck to quick salads and takeout. I tried to keep it as healthy as possible, staying away from pizzas and wraps, but it is quite difficult to feel full and satisfied after a simple salad.
I had to think of some quick and easy recipes with enough nutrients to replace the lack of fresh juices, smoothies, and homemade food variety that I didn’t have much time to prepare, so I rediscovered one of my favorite ingredients – lentils. I only started to eat lentils three years ago, and I remember it was love at first sight. I used to add them to most of my cooked foods – soups, curries, burgers, tarts, or dips, but it was a little bit later that I discovered the fantastic texture they add to salads.
Lentils absorb flavors quickly and pairs fantastically with all sorts of greens, veggies, and lemon dressings. They also give a sensation of fullness, so a simple salad with no more than a quarter-cup of lentils can make a hearty meal on its own.
So, I made lentils the star of my kitchen during the overwhelming days of packing. And they did really good, helping us go easier through this stressful period, because they have three key qualities that almost make them a super-food.
A Folate All Star
Folate (or folic acid) is a vital B-complex vitamin, with a key role in the production of red blood cells, preventing anemia and Alzheimer’s disease, and in the prevention of birth defects during pregnancy. Folates are usually found in fresh, unprocessed foods, especially leafy greens, and are also produced by intestinal bacteria. Lentils are a surprising source of folic acid, only one cup provides almost 90 percent of your daily recommended intake!
Fibers for Healthy Heart, Liver, and Gut
Rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers, lentils provide about 60 percent of your daily recommended fiber intake! Soluble fibers are one of the key ingredients to maintain a healthy liver, because they form a sort of gel that captures the bile secretions in the intestines, filled with cholesterol and toxic compounds processed by the liver, and flushes it out, preventing it from being reabsorbed into the blood and transported back to the liver. The cholesterol is eliminated, reducing the risk of accumulating it in the blood vessels and of a heart attack. Insoluble fibers prevent constipation and digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Key Source of Protein
Legumes are the best protein source alternatives in the vegetarian diets, and lentils are among the richest protein sources, as one cup provides about 35 percent of your daily protein recommended intake. Vegetable proteins (legumes, nuts, and cereals) do not provide all the amino acids necessary for protein synthesis in the body, so they have to be consumed in combination with vegetables to obtain the whole protein building block. Long live salads!
- For the salad
- 2 cups Puy lentils
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 small cucumbers, cut in small cubes
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- ⅓ cup capers
- For the dressing
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- The freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
- ¼ tsp pink Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp raw honey
- 1 tsp organic mustard
- Rinse lentils, drain then place in pot with water just to cover them and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, until they are cooked, but still with texture.
- While lentils are cooking, prepare the dressing by mixing all ingredients in the blender.
- Drain the lentils of the excess cooking water, and place under cold water to reduce their temperature and stop the cooking process.
- Transfer the lentils into a large bowl, and add all the salad ingredients, then pour over the dressing.
- Toss well to combine and set aside for 10-15 minutes, for all the flavors to combine.
- Serve as is, or with a poached egg on top, for extra proteins.