The Many Lives of Lentils

From left, a brightly spiced lentil loaf, a smoky lentil stew and a pasta with lentils and fennel. Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

At my house, dinner is not a three-course meal every night. More likely, it’s a main course and a green salad. Sometimes, it is a one-pot main course, though not always. (I find that even when cooking a simple meal, at least two pots and pans are often involved.) And, quite frequently, dinner is meatless.

While I consider myself a carnivore, my first love will always be vegetables. I’m quite happy to have a vegetarian meal several times a week.

In addition to fresh vegetables, whole grains and dried legumes are usually part of the picture. I’m a big fan of every type of bean, whether cannellini or garbanzo, with a cupboard full of them to choose from. Lately, it is lentils that most strike my fancy. Aside from being delicious, they have the advantage of being quick-cooking. It usually takes no more than 30 minutes to simmer a pot, so they are perfect for a relatively fast meal.

For most uses, any kind will work, but even among lentils, there are lots of types to choose from. If the meal is leaning in a Spanish direction, I might go with Pardina lentils, a small brown variety good for stews, soups or salads. For an Italianate dish, I like Castelluccio lentils from Umbria. When I want to veer toward Turkish flavors, I choose split red lentils. What follows are three lentil dinners I highly recommend. They are all vegetarian, and all have the advantage of tasting good, perhaps better, when prepared in advance. Lastly, each of these dishes can benefit from a drizzle of fruity extra-virgin olive oil as a final flourish, to make them that much more luscious.

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Smoky Lentil Stew With Leeks and Potatoes

This rustic stew improves after a day in the fridge. At the very least, try to cook it an hour or two ahead of the meal, so the elements have time to meld. (You can also make it to eat over several days, or to freeze for later.) Any size green or brown lentil will work here, if you can’t get the small Spanish Pardina lentils (or French lentilles du Puy). But the smoky pimentón is vital: Along with extra-virgin olive oil, it provides real depth of flavor.

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Spaghetti With Lentils, Tomato and Fennel

There are many versions of pasta with lentils, a multitude of which are thick and stewlike, more lentil than pasta. This one emphasizes the pasta. The saucy lentil topping is similar to a traditional Bolognese ragù. The addition of fennel — seeds, bulb and chopped green fronds — gives it a surprising brightness and zest. For even more flavor, put your saved-up Parmesan rinds to use in the sauce. (Meat eaters: Add a little chopped anchovy or Italian fennel sausage.)

Credit…Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Red Lentil Loaf

You may have encountered the kind of vegetarian lentil loaf that masquerades as something else. With its brownish-grey color and a red ketchup glaze, it tries to emulate the homespun comfort of meatloaf. Most recipes call for Worcestershire and barbecue sauce to make it taste beefy. This delicate red lentil loaf is worlds away from that. It’s all about the undisguised flavor of the lentil: sweet and vegetal. The seasoning is a little bit Turkish, with lemon, cumin, cilantro, dill and yogurt. It is delicious served at room temperature or warm. The loaf is easier to cut if cooled, with slices heated through in the oven. Even better is to griddle the slices with a little oil in a nonstick or cast-iron pan until crisp and golden on both sides.

Resource: By David Tanis

Strong Bones Or Osteoporosis – Well Being Journal

In “Strong Bones or Osteoporosis” you will learn about the herbs, teas, and other nutrients that will reverse osteoporosis, keep your bones strong, and give you all the absorbable calcium you need—no matter your age! You might think you need lots of calcium or wonder about the best kind! In the first of this series by Earl Staelin you will learn about that and how hormones and light play a role, and why people who consume the highest amounts of calcium experience higher rates of osteoporosis and fractures than those who consume lower amounts.

Resource: Strong Bones Or Osteoporosis – Well Being Journal
— Read on www.wellbeingjournal.com/strong-bones-or-osteoporosis/

Chia Seeds: Plant-based Obsession 

     Add Chia Seeds to your smoothies for a healthy alternative for protein. Chia seeds are easy and versatile in diets. You can bake them in muffins, breads, make pudding, and add them to your drinks.  According to the National Nutrition Database for Standard Reference, 100 grams of chia seeds contain 16 grams of protein, 30 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 34 grams of dietary fiber, 630 mg of calcium, 7 mg of iron, 335 mg of magnesium, 860 mg of phosphorus, 407 mg of potassium, 16 mg of sodium and 4 mg of zinc. Chia seeds also have vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin E. Chia seeds also have no cholesterol!  They’re super easy to store and inexpensive. A ten ounce bag can cost you less than ten dollars, and it’ll last you a month.  

How do you enjoy your chia seeds and why do you incorporate them into your diet?

     For me, I’m dairy-free so the plant-based calcium benefits are extremely beneficial for my body. Calcium is needed for healthy bones. The good thing about it, I have healthier alternatives. Cutting dairy out was hard for me since I’ve grown up eating every dairy option to mankind. Now as an adult, it had to go.  After some tests and self observations, I realized dairy was the demise to my body’s existence. I was plagued with severe eczema, constipation, acne and a weakened immune system. Once I stopped, things moved along smoother, my skin cleared, and even the mucus significantly reduced in my body.  I wake up now in the mornings without that yellow mucus in my eyes, and my throat isn’t corroded with slimy gook.  I feel much lighter, and my immune is much stronger. I recover better from colds which I rarely get.  

Isn’t that awesome!  

     An article by Thomas Campbell, MD points out the importance of getting calcium from plant-based sources without dairy in your diet. Dairy causes a lot of problems. Find out what those are here.  I’ll stick to my plant-base options. Just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds yields 18% per serving of calcium. It’s the perfect addition to my smoothies along with spinach and kale which also have calcium. There are so many plant-based options for calcium. Explore them and be healthy! 
Resources:

Why Consume More Plants? 

Why Can Too Much Protein be a Protein?

Papaya: My New Obsession

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Papaya’s are my new obsession at the moment. I go through these fazes with fruits and vegetables all the time. Right now it’s papaya. It is extremely healthy for you. Just one whole papaya has 168.08 mg of vitamin C, and a whopping 2622.00 International Units of vitamin A.

According to whfoods website, papayas may prevent a number of health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, aging and cancer. To read more about these health benefits click here.

Papaya alone will not prevent those diseases. It’s the other foods along with papayas that will determine your faith. I’m all about eating foods that will nourish my body. Especially, the ones that has anti-aging benefits…lol! I want to age gracefully and healthy. Who doesn’t? Those kinds of foods are whole foods and plant-based.

I quote from the book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by, T. Colin Campbell, PhD:

“The foods you consume can heal you faster and more profoundly than the most expensive prescription drugs, and more dramatically than the most extreme surgical interventions, with only positive side effects.”

This book is phenomenal. The only diet now that can promise you and me that, is a whole food plant-based diet. I highly recommend reading it, and Healthy Eating Healthy World by, J. Morris Hicks, and The China Study by, Dr. Campbell again.

These three books will transform your outlook on food, nutrition and your life forever. There is much to be gained from reading these books. They are clearly written and powerfully true with scientific researches to support each claim. You will be able to comprehend and implement the changes into your life, and benefit from them.

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Some photos of how I incorporate papayas in my diet. It’s all plant-based foods.