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5 Super-Quick Ways to Cook Red Lentils

5 Super-Quick Ways to Cook Red Lentils

Red lentils are a buttery-rich, high-protein, high-fiber, low fat treat. They are a superb source of protein, soluble fiber (great for keeping your blood sugar levels stable), folic acid, iron, and zinc. They are flatter in shape than the more common brown ones, so they cook up ultra-fast. They also change color as they cook.1/2 cup of cooked lentils (47 grams or 1/4 cup measured raw) contain 170 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 13 g protein, 2% DV for calcium, and 15% DV for iron.Traditionally used in Indian cooking, mild-tasting red lentils have limitless applications in any kitchen. Here are 5 things you can try. Mix and match seasonings to your taste.1. EZ Red Lentil SoupBoil 1 cup red lentils in 4 cups water in a saucepan. As it’s heating up, throw in 1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tbsp fresh grated or jarred), 1 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves minced or 1 tbsp jarred) 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. After it boils, turn to a low simmer and cook for a half hour to 40 minutes, stirring often. Season with juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tbsp bottled) and salt to taste. This is fab on its own or as a “gravy” for steamed greens. Makes 4 servings. Per serving:180 calories1.5 g fat0 g saturated fat0 mg cholesterol5 mg sodium30 g carbs8 g fiber1 g sugar13 g protein4% DV for calcium20% DV for iron 2. Red Lentil HummusGently boil 1 cup of red lentils in 2 cups of water and boil for 20 or more minutes. Stir frequently to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. You may need to reduce heat over time. When it’s done, the water will be completely absorbed and the mixture will resemble thick baby food. Meanwhile, get all this going: 4 tbsp tahini (sesame paste), 1 chopped clove of garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, juice of 1/2-1 lemon (1/8-1/4 cup depending on your taste), 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2-1 tsp sea salt. I also add liquid smoke and cayenne, but that’s up to you. Throw all in food processor or blender and blend til smooth. Add water if necessary. Adjust to taste, then spoon into a bowl and sprinkle with a little fresh chopped parsley and a pinch of paprika. Use as a dip with toasted whole grain pita and raw vegetables. Or as a sandwich spread. Or thin out with a little water and use as a salad dressing.Makes 8 servings. Per serving:160 calories8 g fat1 g saturated fat0 mg cholesterol150 mg sodium16 g carbs4 g fiber1 g sugar8 g protein2% DV for calcium10% DV for iron 3. Golden Coconut CurryChop up 1 onion and sauté in 2 tbsp canola oil in a big pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger (or 1 tsp ground), 2 cloves chopped garlic (or 1 tsp powder), and 1 tsp each cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Cook another 2 minutes. If you like your food spicy, now is the time to add a chopped up fresh jalapeño pepper, or you can omit that. Stir it up and add 2 cups water, 1-1/2 cups red lentils, and one 13.5 oz can coconut milk. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, dice up a total of 3 cups of veggies of your choice, including sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, tomato, and bell peppers. Add them to the curry and simmer until everything is tender. For a super protein rich meal, add 1/2 pound cubed firm tofu toward the end of cooking.Makes 6 servings. Per serving (WITH TOFU):400 calories21 g fat13 g saturated fat0 mg cholesterol420 mg sodium39 g carbs9 g fiber4 g sugar19 g protein15% DV for calcium35% DV for iron4. Red Lentil “Neat”BallsUnfortunately for those avoiding gluten, veggie “Neat”balls usually contain wheat — flour, breadcrumbs, or both. Not these gems, which are gluten free, vegan, sugar free, high in protein and fiber, have a low glycemic load, and have no added oil. The sauce is on the sweet side, but of course you can omit or use any sauce you want. To make the “neat”balls: Gently boil one cup of red lentils in 2 cups of water and boil for 20 or more minutes. Stir frequently to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. You may need to reduce heat over time. When it’s done, the water will be completely absorbed and the mixture will resemble thick baby food. Add to the pot 1/2 cup almond meal, 1/2 cup gluten free flour, and 1 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, parsley flakes, salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix well, best with your hands. Roll into 30 balls and either pan fry in a little canola oil until crispy on the outside or, to keep it added-fat free, bake on a pan spread with nonstick cooking spray in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until they become golden brown. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce, or other sauce. I enjoy these in a good quality jarred BBQ sauce mixed with Sriracha sauce. Spaghetti optional!Makes about 30 NeatBalls (Serving size = 5 NeatBalls).Makes 6 servings. Per serving (no oil, no sauce)220 calories6 g fat0 g saturated fat0 mg cholesterol400 mg sodium33 g carbs7 g fiber1 g sugar12 g protein4% DV for calcium25% DV for iron5. Red Lentil FudgeYes, a rich dessert you can feel great about! Cool-off time is needed for this recipe so start in advance. Gently boil one cup of red lentils in 2 cups of water and cook for 30 or more minutes. Stir frequently to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. You may need to reduce heat over time. When it’s done, the water will be completely absorbed and the mixture will be extremely dry. Once cooled (about 20 minutes), puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Add 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut, 1/3 cup agave nectar (or sweetener of your choice), 1/4 cup good quality coconut oil, and pinch or two of salt. Stir until well combined. Spread on a parchment-lined 9x13” pan (about 1/2 inch thick) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until solid enough to cut into 12 squares. Makes 12 servings. Per serving:150 calories8 g fat6 g saturated fat0 mg cholesterol15 mg sodium19 g carbs4 g fiber8 g sugar5 g protein0% DV for calcium8% DV for iron

Red lentils are a buttery-rich, high-protein, high-fiber, low fat treat. They are a superb source of protein, soluble fiber (great for keeping your blood sugar levels stable), folic acid, iron, and zinc. They are flatter in shape than the more common brown ones, so they cook up ultra-fast. They also change color as they cook.


1/2 cup of cooked lentils (47 grams or 1/4 cup measured raw) contain 170 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 13 g protein, 2% DV for calcium, and 15% DV for iron.


Traditionally used in Indian cooking, mild-tasting red lentils have limitless applications in any kitchen. Here are 5 things you can try. Mix and match seasonings to your taste.


1. EZ Red Lentil Soup


Boil 1 cup red lentils in 4 cups water in a saucepan. As it’s heating up, throw in 1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tbsp fresh grated or jarred), 1 tsp garlic powder (or 2 cloves minced or 1 tbsp jarred) 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. After it boils, turn to a low simmer and cook for a half hour to 40 minutes, stirring often. Season with juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tbsp bottled) and salt to taste. This is fab on its own or as a “gravy” for steamed greens. 


Makes 4 servings.


Per serving:


180 calories


1.5 g fat


0 g saturated fat


0 mg cholesterol


5 mg sodium


30 g carbs


8 g fiber


1 g sugar


13 g protein


4% DV for calcium


20% DV for iron 


2. Red Lentil Hummus


Gently boil 1 cup of red lentils in 2 cups of water and boil for 20 or more minutes. Stir frequently to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. You may need to reduce heat over time. When it’s done, the water will be completely absorbed and the mixture will resemble thick baby food. Meanwhile, get all this going: 4 tbsp tahini (sesame paste), 1 chopped clove of garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, juice of 1/2-1 lemon (1/8-1/4 cup depending on your taste), 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2-1 tsp sea salt. I also add liquid smoke and cayenne, but that’s up to you. Throw all in food processor or blender and blend til smooth. Add water if necessary. Adjust to taste, then spoon into a bowl and sprinkle with a little fresh chopped parsley and a pinch of paprika. Use as a dip with toasted whole grain pita and raw vegetables. Or as a sandwich spread. Or thin out with a little water and use as a salad dressing.


Makes 8 servings.


Per serving:


160 calories


8 g fat


1 g saturated fat


0 mg cholesterol


150 mg sodium


16 g carbs


4 g fiber


1 g sugar


8 g protein


2% DV for calcium


10% DV for iron 


3. Golden Coconut Curry


Chop up 1 onion and sauté in 2 tbsp canola oil in a big pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger (or 1 tsp ground), 2 cloves chopped garlic (or 1 tsp powder), and 1 tsp each cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt. Cook another 2 minutes. If you like your food spicy, now is the time to add a chopped up fresh jalapeño pepper, or you can omit that. Stir it up and add 2 cups water, 1-1/2 cups red lentils, and one 13.5 oz can coconut milk. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, dice up a total of 3 cups of veggies of your choice, including sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, tomato, and bell peppers. Add them to the curry and simmer until everything is tender. For a super protein rich meal, add 1/2 pound cubed firm tofu toward the end of cooking.


Makes 6 servings.


Per serving (WITH TOFU):


400 calories


21 g fat


13 g saturated fat


0 mg cholesterol


420 mg sodium


39 g carbs


9 g fiber


4 g sugar


19 g protein


15% DV for calcium


35% DV for iron


4. Red Lentil “Neat”Balls


Unfortunately for those avoiding gluten, veggie “Neat”balls usually contain wheat — flour, breadcrumbs, or both. Not these gems, which are gluten free, vegan, sugar free, high in protein and fiber, have a low glycemic load, and have no added oil. The sauce is on the sweet side, but of course you can omit or use any sauce you want. To make the “neat”balls: Gently boil one cup of red lentils in 2 cups of water and boil for 20 or more minutes. Stir frequently to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. You may need to reduce heat over time. When it’s done, the water will be completely absorbed and the mixture will resemble thick baby food. Add to the pot 1/2 cup almond meal, 1/2 cup gluten free flour, and 1 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, parsley flakes, salt, and red pepper flakes. Mix well, best with your hands. Roll into 30 balls and either pan fry in a little canola oil until crispy on the outside or, to keep it added-fat free, bake on a pan spread with nonstick cooking spray in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until they become golden brown. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce, or other sauce. I enjoy these in a good quality jarred BBQ sauce mixed with Sriracha sauce. Spaghetti optional!


Makes about 30 NeatBalls (Serving size = 5 NeatBalls).


Makes 6 servings.


Per serving (no oil, no sauce)


220 calories


6 g fat


0 g saturated fat


0 mg cholesterol


400 mg sodium


33 g carbs


7 g fiber


1 g sugar


12 g protein


4% DV for calcium


25% DV for iron


5. Red Lentil Fudge


Yes, a rich dessert you can feel great about! Cool-off time is needed for this recipe so start in advance. Gently boil one cup of red lentils in 2 cups of water and cook for 30 or more minutes. Stir frequently to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. You may need to reduce heat over time. When it’s done, the water will be completely absorbed and the mixture will be extremely dry. Once cooled (about 20 minutes), puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor. Add 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut, 1/3 cup agave nectar (or sweetener of your choice), 1/4 cup good quality coconut oil, and pinch or two of salt. Stir until well combined. Spread on a parchment-lined 9x13” pan (about 1/2 inch thick) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until solid enough to cut into 12 squares.


Makes 12 servings.


Per serving:


150 calories


8 g fat


6 g saturated fat


0 mg cholesterol


15 mg sodium


19 g carbs


4 g fiber


8 g sugar


5 g protein


0% DV for calcium


8% DV for iron

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