A few posts back Julie Cowdroy wrote about the Below the Line campaign – a program in May that sees well-fed westerners live on $2 a day to experience what it’s like for the world’s poorest. And to raise $$. I promised to give it a crack and did so for a day. As, it seems, with most people who did it, I resorted to lentils.

being frugal

Lentils are cheap. And Dr Weston A Price considers the little buggers the most nutritious of all legumes – high in minerals and they help assimilate protein and iron absorption. But they can be bland and horrible and really crook on the gut. If you don’t play right.

Here’s some tricks for eating them.

Just mine. It’s not a comprehensive list.

1. Add red lentils to soups and casseroles and curries…

for extra bulk and fibre and protein. A cheap way to spread out a meal. Simply rince a handful and toss in 15-20 minutes before the dish is cooked. They disintegrate and you’ll barely know they’re there.

2. Soak your green and brown lentils a few hours.

Most recipes will say you don’t need to at all because they’re quite low on phytic acid. Soak in warm water with a bit of lemon juice. Seven hours is good.

3. I make dahl…
by boiling  soaked brown lentils (1.5 cups)  in water to cover, adding a tsp of turmeric (a great anti-inflammatory), pepper and garlic. I simmer for an hour  (covered) and then whisk the lentils til creamy. In a pan I saute cumin seeds and 2 small hot chillies in butter (or ghee) and then fold that through the lentils with some coriander.

4. I sprout lentils.

Now, I stumbled upon this by accident. I soaked some brown lentils overnight, drained them and then left them in the colander, covered for a day in a warm bit of the kitchen. And forgot about them. Then next day I rinsed them to keep them fresh and forgot them again. The following day I had sprouts!

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I looked up Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions (a bible in wholesome eating) and turns out that’s the EXACT process for making sprouts – she says to rinse a few times a day, especially in summer. So to sum: soak, rinse, set on bench for 2-3 days, rinsing twice a day, until a white sprout about 1/2 cm long appears. Done.

Eat these little things:

* steamed lightly and then sprinkled on a salad or tossed through stirfries or casseroles (Try not to eat too many of them raw – they still contain irritating substances to the gut which are neutralised when cooked.)

* for breakfast. I’m not kidding. I steam them lightly and have them with 1/2 a chopped avocado, with walnut oil drizzled over the top and rock salt. I can’t tell you how good this tastes – nutty and caramely.

* as a snack. I put a cup of them in the microwave and eat with a few slices of turkey in the afternoon.

Why sprouts?

* germination changes the composition increasing the vitamins 8-fold

* it neutralises the enzyme inhibitors in beans and grains (which are what make lentils hard on our guts if not prepared properly). Enzymes are what break down food for digestion. Foods contain them and so do our guts.  But we have a limited supply and as they run out we ….age! So we can’t afford to eat foods that contain inhibitors.

* it also produces enzymes…anti-aging!

Feel free to add extra lentil-loving ideas here…

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • MissG

    I don’t know, I’ve heard of that too, but every time I eat kabocha squash, I immediately have that (albeit very mild) reaction…and I eat it quite regularly! What does it mean??

  • Jay

    my mom used to sprout mung beans when i was little and i loved those. unfortunately not at my local store :(, and the indian store is too far. am gonna use lentils, glad to know it’s ok to eat em raw. she warned me not to eat beans raw, but said there are a few that can be done (channa, mung, and apparently lentils)

  • Sarah

    Apparently you arent supposed to slow cook them. You have to guve them a good boil.

  • Maggie

    dried lentils or lentils in a can? ?