Lentils have been an Old World classic for thousands and thousands of years. Now they're becoming stars on all types of New World menus. From trendy restaurants to school lunch programs, from elegant at-home brunches to easy family suppers lentils are turning up in soups, stuffings, salads, sandwiches and more.

Laudable Nutrition Facts About The Lentil

Lentils are good for you! They are low in fat, calories and sodium, and are high in complex carbohydrates, fiber and protein. And, they have no cholesterol.

Lentils fit all the recommendations for today's prudent diet, as suggested by nutrition and medical experts, including the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Versatile lentils are diet food. In addition to being low calorie (only 116 calories per half cup serving) they are filling and satisfying because they are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates.

Complement Lentils For Protein Power

Because lentils are a vegetable, they do not supply all the amino acids (building blocks of protein) necessary to make them a complete protein. They are lacking in the amino acid methionine. But adding grains, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy products or eggs make up for the methionine, and complement, or complete, the protein. So, lentil-barley soup, lentil-rice salad, or lentil-cheese quiche would be complete protein main dishes.

Lentils can be an important source of iron, especially for women, whose iron needs are greater. Eating lentils with foods high in Vitamin C, such as tomatoes, green pepper, broccoli and citrus fruits or juices, helps the body absorb the iron more effectively. Lentils also provide potassium, especially important for people taking medications for heart disease and hypertension. Potassium is also thought to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk for strokes.


Moroccan Lentil Tagine


Yield: 24 (1-cup) servings


  • Lentils—2 lb./ 5 cups
  • Vegetable or chicken broth—96 oz. / 3 qt.
  • Minced garlic—2 tablespoons
  • Peeled sweet potatoes, cut in small cubes—Approx. 3 lb. / 9 cups
  • Seeded and diced tomatoes—2 lb.8 oz. / 6 cups
  • Diced bell peppers—1 lb. 8 oz. / 4-1/2 cups
  • Chopped onions—1 lb.8 oz./ 4 cups
  • Fresh grated ginger—2 tablespoons
  • Cayenne pepper—2 teaspoons
  • Ground cumin—1-1/2 teaspoons
  • Salt—1-1/2 teaspoons
  • Chopped cilantro—As needed


In large stockpot, combine lentils, broth and garlic. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Stir in sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt. Return to simmer and cook, uncovered, additional 30 minutes or until sweet potato is soft.

To serve, portion one cup stew into a bowl. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Nutrients Per Serving: 146 Calories, 7.7g Protein, 28g Carbohydrate, 1g Fat, .5mg Cholesterol, 4.9g Dietary Fiber, 546mg Sodium.


Bar-B-Q'd Lentils

An old-time recipe, but a favorite of many good cooks.


  • 2-1/2 cups lentils, rinsed
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can (16 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

Add lentils to water, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender but whole. Add remaining ingredients to the cooked lentils and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Serves 8

Each serving provides 228.3 calories, 10.83 grams protein, 0 mg. cholesterol, 49.27 grams carbohydrate, .143 gram fat, 551 milligrams sodium, 7.029 grams dietary fiber.


Lentils & Dry Peas


Provided by USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified February 2007

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