What are lentils, what are their unique health and nutritional benefits and how is it best to cook lentils in clay pots?
Lentils are protein and fiber rich foods from the legume family. They come in red, brown, green and black varieties and look like a tiny bean. Lentils are low cost and easy to cook, which makes them quite popular worldwide. Keep reading to learn more about their many health benefits and the best way to cook these.
The unique health and nutritional benefits of Lentils
Lentils are a plentiful source of fiber, folic acid and potassium – all these nutrients support heart health. The fiber reduces LDL cholesterol levels (aka ‘bad cholesterol’) and lowers the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Also, the high fiber content in lentils keeps you full longerand reduces hunger pangs. This can reduce your overall intake of calories and aid in weight loss. Fiber also promotes regular bowel movement and keeps the digestive tract healthy.
Like other plant-based foods, lentils have antioxidants. These aid in combating inflammation and tumors, by working against free radicals. Selenium in lentils slows down the rate at which tumors can grow.
Lentils are an excellent replacement for meat meals because these have all essential vitamins and minerals. Doing so is also beneficial for heart health. Research shows that the potassium, calcium, and magnesium in lentils can naturally decrease blood pressure. Therefore, lentils qualify for the DASH diet the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) recommends for lowering blood pressure.
An added benefit is that Lentils provide nonheme iron – an essential form of iron for people who do not consume meat. It affects how efficiently the body uses energy and fights fatigue for longer.
However, cooking this nutrient-rich food the wrong way can take away all its health benefits. But what is the best way to do so? Keep reading and find out.
The best way to cook lentils
Cooking lentils in conventional metal or ceramic pots invites the risk of toxins leaching and losing nutrients to the damaging heat from these raw materials. Therefore, to avoid toxins and for maximum nutrition, we must cook lentils only in clay pots.
MEC clay pots are made from lab tested primary clay without any additives, chemicals or glazes. Primary clay is the purest form of clay and is naturally non-reactive, so there is no risk of leaching. They cook with unique far infrared heat that penetrates deep and cooks food evenly and thoroughly at low heat. This gentle heat keeps even the most delicate nutrients intact and enables your lentils to retain their natural color and flavor.
Things to keep in mind when cooking lentils in MEC
It is best to buy lentils whole and dried. These are rich in nutrients, unlike the newer forms of processed lentils like lentil pasta. The commercial processing of the lentils into these forms depreciates nutrients. Further, it essentially uses gum like guar or xanthan among other unhealthy additives.
When preparing legumes for cooking in conventional cookware, you need to soak most of varieties overnight before cooking to break down phytic acid. Whereas, cooking them in MEC does this anyway. Phytic acid can cause digestive disorders such as bloating and gas. But cooking lentils in MEC avoids these problems once and for all.
It is a good idea to cook both whole grain & non-whole grain lentils together. Doing so makes the recipe so much healthier and increases fiber content. With MEC’s far infrared heat cooking, both grains will cook to a perfect consistency.
Steps to cook lentils in MEC
Cooking lentils in MEC is easy and convenient. Add the washed lentils and water to the pot in the ratio of 1:2 or 1:3, depending on the type of lentil. Set stove on medium-low and let cook until fully done. Your lentils are done cooking when you can smash one easily by pressing to the side walls of the pot with a fork. You may try different lentils recipes by following these same steps. Here are some from MEC’s kitchen:
- Rice with lentils, vegetables and spices (AKA Khichari in some parts of the world) – A quick & easy one pot wholesome meal
- King of Healthy Soups – Lentils with Vegetables Soup
- Light and Easy Lentil – Mixed Grains Pilaf
- Lentil & Beans Soup w/ healthy vegetables and an assortment of spices (AKA Sambar)