If you’re looking for a hearty and nutritious addition to your vegan diet, lentils should be at the top of your list. Not only do they provide a great source of protein, fiber, and iron, but they’re also incredibly versatile. Whether you’re in the mood for a soup, salad, or curry, there’s an abundance of tasty and easy-to-make recipes with lentils that are vegan-friendly. In this article, we’ll dive into some of the best lentil-based vegan recipes out there, so you can enjoy delicious and healthy meals while also supporting a cruelty-free lifestyle.
What are lentils?
Lentils are small, round legumes that come in different colors such as green, brown, red, and yellow. They belong to the family of pulses and have been cultivated for over 8,500 years. This nutrient-dense food is widely consumed across the world, especially in regions such as the Middle East, India, and North Africa. Lentils are also a popular food among vegans due to their high protein content and versatility in cooking.
Nutritional benefits of lentils
Lentils are not only packed with protein, but they are also an excellent source of fiber, iron, folate, potassium, phosphorus, and manganese. One cup of cooked lentils (198g) provides approximately:
- 18g of protein
- 15g of fiber
- 37% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron for women
- 90% of the RDI of folic acid
Moreover, lentils are low in fat and calories. They can be considered as one of the best foods for weight loss due to their high fiber content, which promotes fullness and reduces appetite.
Types of lentils
There are various types of lentils available in the market, including:
|Type of lentil||Description||Best used for|
|Brown lentils||Small and brown in color. They hold their shape well after cooking and have a nutty flavor.||Soups and stews|
|Green lentils||Medium-sized and green color. They have a slightly peppery taste and a firm texture.||Salads and side dishes|
|Red lentils||Small and orange-red in color. They cook quickly and have a soft texture. They have a sweet and nutty flavor.||Dals, curries, and soups|
|Yellow lentils||Medium-sized and yellow in color. They have a mild taste and creamy texture.||Dals and soups|
Each type of lentil has its unique flavor, texture, and cooking time. Depending on the recipe, you can choose the best type of lentil for your dish.
Benefits of lentils in vegan recipes
One of the key ingredients in many vegan recipes is lentils. These tiny, leguminous seeds are a staple food in many parts of the world and have been used in cooking for thousands of years. Not only are they incredibly versatile, but they are also packed with a range of health benefits. In this article, we explore some of the many reasons why using lentils in vegan recipes can be so beneficial.
Lentils help to reduce cholesterol levels
Lentils are a rich source of soluble fiber, which has been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels in the body. This type of fiber works by binding to cholesterol molecules in the gut and preventing them from being absorbed into the bloodstream. By doing so, it can help to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
In addition to their high fiber content, lentils are also low in fat and contain no cholesterol. This makes them an excellent choice for people looking to reduce their cholesterol intake and improve their heart health.
Lentils can improve digestion
Another benefit of using lentils in vegan recipes is their effect on digestion. Lentils are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help to keep the digestive system healthy and regular. The soluble fiber in lentils helps to soften the stool and make it easier to pass, while the insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and promotes bowel movements.
In addition, lentils contain a range of nutrients that are beneficial for digestive health, including magnesium, potassium, and folate. These nutrients help to support the growth of healthy gut bacteria and can reduce the risk of conditions such as constipation, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Lentils can increase energy levels
Many people turn to vegan diets as a way to boost their energy levels, and lentils can certainly help in this regard. Lentils are a good source of complex carbohydrates, which are digested slowly and provide a steady source of energy throughout the day. They also contain a range of B vitamins, which are essential for converting food into fuel and maintaining healthy energy levels.
Finally, lentils are a good source of iron, which is necessary for producing energy in the body. Iron helps to transport oxygen to the cells, where it is used to create energy. A lack of iron can lead to fatigue, weakness, and poor concentration, so including lentils in your vegan recipes can help to ensure that you have the energy you need to get through the day.
Top 3 vegan lentil recipes to try
Lentils are a staple in vegan cooking, and for good reason – they’re packed with protein, fiber, and iron. Plus, they’re incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are three delicious vegan lentil recipes to try:
Lentil soup is a classic vegan dish that’s perfect for a cozy night in. To make it, start by sautéing some onions, celery, and carrots in a large pot. Add in some minced garlic and dried thyme, and cook for a few more minutes. Then, add in some vegetable broth and green or brown lentils (rinsed and drained). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with crusty bread.
If you’re looking for a fun twist on traditional tacos, try swapping out the meat for lentils. Start by cooking some lentils according to the package directions. Then, sauté some diced onions and garlic in a pan until soft. Add in the cooked lentils, along with some chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Cook for a few more minutes, then serve in taco shells with your favorite toppings (like avocado, salsa, and cilantro).
Burgers don’t have to be made from meat – lentils make for a delicious and hearty alternative. Start by cooking some lentils according to the package directions. Mash them up with a fork or potato masher, then add in some diced onion, breadcrumbs, and a flax egg (made by mixing ground flaxseed with water). Form the mixture into patties and cook on a greased skillet or grill pan until browned on both sides. Serve on a bun with your favorite burger toppings (like lettuce, tomato, and vegan mayo).
Tips for Cooking Lentils
Lentils are a versatile and nutritious food that can be used as a base for many vegan dishes. However, cooking lentils can be tricky, and if not prepared properly, they can turn out mushy and unappetizing. In this article, we’ll go over some tips for cooking lentils that will help you achieve the perfect texture and taste every time.
Soaking lentils before cooking them can help to reduce cooking time and make them easier to digest. To soak your lentils, simply place them in a large bowl and cover with water. Let them soak for at least 2 hours, or overnight for best results. Drain and rinse the lentils before cooking.
The boiling method is the most common way to cook lentils. To boil lentils, combine 1 cup dry lentils with 3 cups of water or vegetable broth in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain off any excess water and use the cooked lentils in your favorite vegan recipe.
Pressure Cooking Lentils
If you’re short on time, pressure cooking is a great way to cook lentils quickly. Simply add 1 cup of lentils and 2 cups of water or vegetable broth to your pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 8-10 minutes, then release the pressure and let the lentils sit for about 5 minutes before opening the lid. Drain off any excess water and use the cooked lentils in your recipe.
Storing Leftover Lentils
Lentils can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. To store cooked lentils, let them cool to room temperature, then place them in an airtight container. Store in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.
Tips for Seasoning Lentils
- Add a bay leaf or two to the water or broth while cooking lentils for added flavor.
- Season the lentils with fresh herbs, spices, and salt after cooking.
- Try adding garlic, onions, or other aromatics to the water or broth while cooking.
- For a protein-packed salad, toss cooked lentils with chopped veggies and a dressing of your choice.
How to add lentils to your vegan diet
If you’re looking for the perfect way to add protein and fiber to your vegan diet, lentils are a fantastic option. These little legumes pack a powerful punch of nutrition and taste great in a variety of recipes. Here are five simple ways to add lentils to your vegan diet.
1. Use lentils as a meat substitute
If you’re missing the taste and texture of meat in your meals, lentils can be a fantastic substitute. Their meaty texture and mild flavor make them a versatile ingredient in all kinds of meat-free dishes, from lentil burgers to lentil shepherd’s pie. You can also use lentils to make vegan meatballs, lentil and mushroom bolognese, or lentil tacos.
2. Add lentils to salads
Lentils make a great addition to salads, giving them a protein boost and adding a satisfying texture. You can use cooked lentils in all kinds of salads, from classic green salads to heartier grain-based salads. Try mixing cooked lentils with quinoa, roasted vegetables, and a simple lemon vinaigrette for a tasty and nutritious lunch.
3. Make lentil dips
Hummus may be the most famous dip made from legumes, but lentil dips are also delicious and easy to make. Simply boil lentils until they are tender, then blend them with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and your favorite herbs and spices. This creamy dip is perfect for serving with pita bread or raw vegetables.
4. Use lentils in soups and stews
Adding lentils to soups and stews can make them heartier and more satisfying. Lentil soup is a classic recipe that’s easy to make, and you can also add lentils to your favorite vegetable or tomato-based soups. Lentils work especially well in spicier soups and stews, adding a depth of flavor and texture.
5. Try lentil-based desserts
Believe it or not, you can also use lentils in dessert recipes! Lentils have a slightly sweet taste that makes them a perfect base for healthy desserts like lentil cookies or lentil brownies. You can also use lentils to make bliss balls or protein bars for an easy on-the-go snack.
Vegan lentil recipe FAQs
Are you a vegan looking for a healthy and protein-packed plant-based dish? Lentils are a great option! Here are answers to some common questions about cooking with lentils:
1. How do I adjust the seasoning in vegan lentil recipes?
Seasoning is essential when it comes to cooking lentils. Fortunately, because lentils are mild in flavor, they can take on a variety of different seasonings. If a recipe calls for salt, add it towards the end of the cooking time to avoid toughening the lentils. Some seasoning options to consider include:
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika
- Onion powder
- Chili powder
Experiment to find what you like best!
2. How can I make lentils less gassy?
Lentils are notoriously gassy, but there are a few tips to reduce this uncomfortable side effect:
- Soak lentils before cooking: Soaking lentils in water for at least an hour or overnight before cooking can help break down the indigestible sugars and prevent gas.
- Add aromatics: Add garlic, onion, or ginger to your lentil dishes. These ingredients can help break down the oligosaccharides found in lentils.
- Drink water: Drinking plenty of water can help flush out any excess gas from your system.
3. How do I cook lentils for vegan recipes?
Lentils are versatile and can be used in various dishes, from salads to soups to stews. The cooking method will depend on the recipe, but here are some general guidelines:
- Rinse the lentils: Rinse lentils with cold water and remove any debris or stones.
- Determine the cooking liquid: The amount of water or broth needed will depend on the type of lentil and cooking method. A general rule of thumb is to use a 1:3 ratio of lentils to liquid. For example, if you’re cooking one cup of lentils, use three cups of water or broth.
- Boil the lentils: Bring the water or broth to a boil and add the lentils. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until tender.
- Drain excess liquid: If there is any remaining liquid, drain it off before adding the lentils to your recipe.
4. Can lentils be a substitute for meat in vegan recipes?
Absolutely! Lentils are a great plant-based protein that can be used in place of meat in many dishes. They provide a similar texture and can take on different flavors. Consider using lentils in place of meat in dishes such as:
- Shepherd’s pie
- Sloppy Joes
5. How can I add more lentils to my diet?
There are many ways to incorporate lentils into your diet, including adding them to:
- Soups and stews
- Veggie burgers
- Snacks (such as roasted lentils)
- Pasta dishes
6. What are some easy vegan lentil recipes to try?
Looking for some inspiration? Here are three easy vegan lentil recipes to get you started:
|Lentil Soup||A classic soup that is hearty and comforting. Combine lentils, vegetables, and spices for a nutritious meal.|
|Lentil Salad||A refreshing salad that is perfect for lunch. Combine lentils, fresh vegetables, and a tangy vinaigrette for a healthy meal.|
|Lentil Shepherd’s Pie||A cozy and flavorful shepherd’s pie that is vegan! Top with mashed potatoes for a delicious meal.|
Thanks for Reading! Come Back for More Delicious Vegan Recipes with Lentils
We hope you enjoyed learning about our favorite vegan recipes with lentils. Remember, lentils are not only tasty but also packed with nutritious benefits, making them a great addition to any vegan diet. Make sure to come back to our blog for more recipes, tips, and techniques for cooking delicious vegan meals at home! Until then, happy cooking!