A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It was my first day back at work from being on vacation (sick) and also just sick yesterday.  Still feel a little loopy and painful, but I felt good enough to get back at it and face the work place today.  It's hard to find the time and motivation to cook something after a day of work, but the health benefits totally outweigh any costs.  I'm used having all of our meals for the week cooked on Saturday and Sunday, but sickness and vacation limited my ability to get everything done.  So tonight I made a quick meal of Lentils with Tomatoes and Veggies for our last work lunch of the week.
It's nothing special, but I gathered the following ingredients:
  • Half bag of frozen chopped onions
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes, drained just a little
  • Half bag of frozen broccoli florets
  • 1/2 C of dried green lentils (they also come in black, red and dark green varieties)
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 T Basil
  • 1 Cup Chicken Broth
  • Pepper to taste - I omit salt since the canned tomatoes have enough sodium already
Basically just sweat the onions on medium high heat for a few minutes, add the spices to cook into the onions (they will become very fragrant).  Add the rest of the ingredients, bring broth to a boil, cover, and reduce to simmer for 30 - 45 minutes.  There you go, plain and simple, yet nutritious!

A lot of times, I like to follow the same procedures, adding carrots, red or green peppers, cauliflower, spinach, or anything else I have.  Once cooked, I puree in a blender or with an immersion blender to make a great dip that's filled with nutrition.  Try adding different spices like curry for a different flavored dip or spread for a wrap.

Here is a great list of benefits found at This Website.

1. Lentils are a good source of lean protein. Lentils are not a complete protein, because they lack one essential protein, methionine. However, lentils form a complete protein when combined with foods such as grains, nuts, seeds, eggs and dairy products.

2. Lentils are a good source of iron. This is important especially for women, whose iron needs are great, and for vegetarians whose often suffer from iron deficiency. It's helpful to combine lentils with foods that are rich in Vitamin C such as broccoli, tomatoes, green peppers and citrus fruits, because Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron more efficiently.

3. Lentils are a good source of folic acid. The U.S. Health Service recommends that all women of child-bearing age consume 400 mcg of folic acid per day, but very few women do. A single serving of lentils provides 90% of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid. In fact, lentils provide more folic acid than any other unfortified food.

4. Lentils are a good source of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps to clear the digestive system, decreases cholesterol, and decreases the need for insulin in diabetes patients.

5. Lentils lower the risk of coronary heart disease. In addition to fiber, other heart healthy attributes of lentils include folate and magnesium. The magnesium found in lentils increases the flow of blood and thus optimizes oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

6. Lentils help reduce cholesterol. High-soluble-fiber foods such as lentils have lowered cholesterol levels in most trials.
7. Lentils help control diabetes. Consumption of high carbohydrate foods which are low on the glycemic index is associated with a low risk of develop type 2 diabetes. Most doctors suggest that diabetics include legumes, including lentils as part of a high-fiber diet to help control diabetes.

8. Lentils reduce the risk of Parkinson's disease. Although the exact connection has not been determined, it is believed that the Vitamin E found in lentils helps prevent Parkinson's disease.

I like to pair lentils with wheat or another grain to make a complete protein which as all amino acids that the body breaks down to use across all functions.

You can buy lentils in a package from Arrowhead Mills, Bob's Red Mill, and other companies, or find them in your store's bulk department.  Try the red ones for some nice color and change in nutrients.

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