Have you got a bag of sad looking lentils at the back of the pantry you bought last winter, hunched over, feeling very sorry for itself? Well, firstly check the used by date, and if there's still some life left, spring the bag open, throw the little lenses in a jar and place it front and centre in your pantry. Because this Autumn, you're going lentil loco!
(If they are out of date, head to the soup aisle in your local supermarket and grab some lentils, stat!)
Seriously, there are many reasons why you should give lentils a go this Autumn, and I'm just going to give you seven.
Firstly, the fibre. The amount of fibre that lentils pack in just 1 cup of cooked lentils is amazing. You will benefit 16g of fibre which is about half of what we should be aiming for in a day. It's soluble fibre as well, so helps to regulate digestion and bowel movements. Lentils are also instrumental at diversifying the gut microbiota, promoting more good bacteria.
Lentils have great amounts of folate, about 350mcg in 1 cup of cooked lentils. Folate is an essential B vitamin that is used by the body in so many ways, brain function, cell growth, forming red blood cells, supporting our nervous system, and is of course important during pregnancy for a healthy baby.
Non Heme Iron is abundant in lentils, packing about 6mg of iron for each cup of cooked lentils. Females especially need iron, about 18mg per day, and can receive a nice amount from a lunch time meal of lentils.
Lentils also have a lovely amount of protein, about 18g per 1 cup cooked lentils. This is a huge amount in one go to hit our daily requirements, especially for those who choose not to have meat, or don't eat a lot of it (consider 80g of chicken contains 24g of protein). Protein is so essential to almost every daily function and reaction inside the body, helps us feel hunger and satiety, and keeps our energy sustained for longer.
Speaking of energy, lentils are low on the glycemic index scale, meaning they provide sustained energy and have little effect on blood sugar levels. They are a really good choice for stabilsing blood sugar and indicated for those of us managing insulin resistance and diabetes.
Lentils are also pretty cheap. One packet of dried lentils will see multiple meals and soups made and enjoyed, and cooked lentils can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge. Dried lentils can be stored in your pantry conveniently and for long periods of time, so there's no wastage or energy used when storing or if you forget their hiding in the pantry for a few weeks.
And finally, they have a great superpower of taste and versatility. They can take on a variety of flavours; spicy, mild, fresh, zingy, tangy and slide on into different dishes; soups, salads, pies, curries, slow cooks.
The only downside with these cutie pies is that they have this pesky thing called phytic acid, which suppresses the absorption of awesome nutrients like zinc and iron. However, if you soak your lentils (even if it's just an hour) before you cook them, you break down the phytic acid and maximise the opportunity for absorption of all the beautiful nutrients inside lentils.
So how do you feel about lentils now? I encourage you to try them this week, and I've prepared a couple of recipes for you to try here. If you do start to give them a go in your weekly meals, notice how they make you feel, you might notice your bowel movements becoming more regular, you might notice you feel more energised, less hungry of an afternoon if you've had them for lunch, and if you have them really regularly and you're a menstruating female, notice if there are any positive changes to your cycle.