Sunday, November 22, 2009

For the Love of Lentils

I have gradually become more healthy in my eating habits and cooking over the past several years. I have read a couple of books about nutrition that opened my eyes about the effects of trans-fats, excess sugar, preservatives and chemicals in the foods we eat, etc. Having a child brings a lot of motivation to make better lifestyle choices. I want the very best for Madeline, and I must model the behavior that I want her to adopt someday. I don't want her to eat sweets and drink soda all the time or to live off of fast food. I want her to eat food that nourishes and blesses her body, that gives her energy, strengthens her immunity, and helps her to have a healthy, lean body.

We eat meat for dinner two or three times a week usually. But lately I have been experimenting with more vegetarian cooking. A couple of our favorite recipes that I have discovered recently are made with lentils. I was a skeptic before trying them, but we have found that we love them. You really don't miss the meat in either of these recipes. Really! :)

Lentil Loaf (Think meatloaf without the meat....)

1 can vegetable broth (or chicken)
3/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed
1 & 3/4 cups shredded carrots (I use my food processor)
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup chopped fresh mushroom
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. minced fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbs parsley
1 cup shredded cheese (Italian blend or mozzarella)
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Ketchup for top

In a saucepan, bring broth and lentils to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes until tender and most of liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook brown rice as directed.

Meanwhile, saute onion, carrots, and mushrooms in oil for 10 minutes or until tender. Add basil and parsley; saute 5 minutes longer.

In a large bowl, combine the carrot mixture, cooked lentils, cheese, rice, egg, egg white, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

Transfer to a 9x5 inch loaf pan coated with non-stick cooking spray. Spread ketchup over top if desired. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.

NOTE: I have found that this freezes very well. I triple this recipe and freeze two of them in freezer bags. When you are ready to use it just let it thaw, place in a loaf pan, and bake.

Lentil Taco Filling

3/4 cup dry lentils
3/4 cup dry brown rice
4 cups water
4 beef bouillon cubes
4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Dump everything in a medium pot and cook on high until it boils. Cover and simmer for approximately 45 minutes, or until all water is absorbed. Stir every 5-10 minutes. Use just like regular taco filling for soft or hard tacos.


Julie said...

I love Lentils, too! Apparently they serve them in Ethiopia...there is a great recipe at look up Ethiopian Lentil Stew. It's yummy!

Amy @ Literacy Launchpad said...

Love those Lentil Tacos! I make mine in the crock pot. Throw it all in there and let it simmer all day, and dinner is ready. And I double the recipe and throw a bunch if it in the freezer. So cheap, easy, and yummy!