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5 Fun Facts About Lentils

Lentil plant 1

[A red lentil plant in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan!]

Last year, I wrote a post about why I love lentils! So I was thrilled to be invited to join a Lentil Farm Tour in beautiful Saskatoon, Saskatchewan this summer! (#sponsored travel) I felt like a kid again, meeting and chatting with a lentil farmer! Here are 5 fun facts I learned.

1. Lentils are a short crop, not much taller than 24 inches. Here’s Farmer Corey Loessin and I sitting in the lentil field.

Sue and lentil farmer

2. Lentils grow in pods connected to the plant. Look how tiny they are! On average, there are 1-3 lentils in the pod.

lentil pod

3. Lentils are planted in early May and harvested mid-August. The lentil field is a pretty gorgeous site, and would you look at that beautiful Prairie sky!

Lentil field 2

4. There are 6 types of lentils grown in Canada. Who knew? The most commonly found lentils are split red and whole green.

Types of lentils grown in Canada

5. Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of lentils. Farmers in Saskatchewan, like Corey and his family, produce 95% of Canada’s lentils. India, China, Turkey, Bangladesh and the United States are the countries that import the most pulses from Saskatchewan.

Farmers

Looking for some lentil recipe ideas? Try Lentil Shepherd’s Pie or Lentil Watermelon Summer Salad or www.lentils.org.

Lentil Watermelon Summer Salad

Lentil Watermelon Salad

Watermelon is one of my go-to fruits for the summer! Team it up with some lentils, feta cheese and mint – and you’ve got a beautiful, refreshing, protein-packed salad!

Here’s the Lentil Watermelon Salad that I featured on my TV interview with CHCH Morning Live.

Ingredients
6 cups 1-inch cubed watermelon
1 1/2 cups cooked black lentils (puy or Beluga)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
10 fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
salt and pepper

Instructions
1. In a large salad bowl, combine the watermelon, lentils, half of the feta and half of the mint.
2. In a small container, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Pour olive oil mixture over the watermelon mixture. Toss gently to combine.
4. Top with remaining feta and mint before serving.

Makes 8 servings.
Recipe source: www.pulses.org

Last Minute DIY Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen!

sue-kelsey-pic-1

There’s something so special about making – and receiving – a homemade gift!
Here are my five gift ideas which use common ingredients from your kitchen!

Watch my interview video for step-by-step instructions.

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DYI Gift #1: Mini Clementine Wreath
Everyone loves clementines this time of year! Take this seasonal fruit to make a cute wreath.

Step 1: Cut a piece of clear wrapping paper or clear basket wrap about 2 feet long.
Step 2: About 6 inches from the top edge of the wrapping paper, place 8 mini clementines about 1 finger width apart.
Step 3: Fold the top edge of the wrapping paper over the clementines and continue rolling until you get to the end of the wrapping paper.
Step 4: Bring the two ends of the wrapping paper together to form a wreath shape and tie the ends together with floral wire or a large twist tie.
Step 5: Tie a little bow between each clementine.
Step 6: Finish off the wreath by tying a big bow at the bottom of the wreath to cover up the floral wire.

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DIY Gift #2: Soup in a Jar
A perfect gift for the health conscious person on your list. The fibre in beans and barley helps to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Step 1: In a 4 cup jar, layer 3/4 cup each of green split peas, red lentils and barley. Repeat the layers.
Step 2: Attach a wooden spoon or soup spoon.
Step 3: Include a gift tag with these cooking instructions: Heat about 2 T of vegetable oil on medium high heat in a heavy stockpot. Sauté one diced onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 diced carrots and 2 stalks of chopped celery for about 5 minutes. Add the soup mix and 10 cups of broth. Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is tender.

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DIY Gift #3: Homemade Pancake Mix
The holidays can spell cookie overload! Give the gift of breakfast with this homemade pancake mix.

Step 1: In a tall clear bag, add 1 cup white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 T sugar, 4 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.
Step 2: Tie the bag with a festive ribbon.
Step 3: Attach these instructions on a gift tag: In a large bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 2 1/4 cups milk or buttermilk, 2 T oil or melted butter. Use a whisk to stir the pancake mix into the egg mixture. Heat a skillet with butter on medium high heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter at a time per pancake. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until bubbles form on the pancake. Flip over and cook for another 30 to 60 seconds or until the pancake is set. Makes 12 pancakes.
Step 4: Attach a colourful whisk and/or a bottle of maple syrup.

chai-tea-mix
4. Chai Tea Mix
An aromatic mix for the tea lover on your list!

Step 1: In a small jar, combine: 1/2 T ground black pepper, 2 T ground cinnamon, 2 T ground ginger, 1 T ground cardamom, 1 T ground cloves, 1/2 T ground nutmeg.
Step 2: Attach a gift tag with these instructions: To make a cup of chai tea, add 1/2 tsp of the tea mix with 1 cup of hot milk and 2 tsp of black tea. Optional – add sugar to taste.
Step 3: Pair the chai tea mix with a festive mug and you’re all set!

coupons
5. DIY Coupons
Give the gift of your time or service.
Think beyond the kitchen and offer gifts that continue to give all year long.

Step 1: Hand write or print your own coupons.
Step 2: Place them in a tin or stocking stuffer. Have fun and be creative!

Here are some coupon ideas:

To spouse / partner / friend:
– No cooking tonight. Dinner on me at the restaurant of your choice.
– One month no garbage duty.
– Lunch on me today!
– One free night of babysitting.

To child from parent:
– Breakfast in bed!
– Stay up one hour past your bedtime.
– Dinner and movie with mom.

To parent from child:
– Free car wash by hand.
– Breakfast in bed!
– I’ll clean up my room without complaining.

Happy holidays and all the best for the New Year!

5 Reasons Why I LOVE Lentils!


1. Lentils are cheap. I paid $2.99 for a big package of dried green lentils which should be enough for at least 10 servings. Costing it out, that’s about 30 cents for a solid serving of protein! Not bad, especially when foods costs are skyrocketing these days.

2. Lentils are nutritious. A 3/4 cup serving of cooked lentils is a substitute for meat, an excellent source of iron and packs in about 25% of my daily quota for fibre.

3. Lentils need no soaking.
Unlike many other dried beans, lentils don’t have to be soaked prior to cooking – a real time saver!

4. Lentils are versatile.
For week 3 of my Pulse Pledge, I made Easy Lentils and Rice. Last week, I used a can of lentils to make an amazing Lentil Shepherd’s Pie.

5. Lentils are delicious. They add texture and soak up any spices or flavours in your recipe. Give these nutritious gems a try!

Easy Lentils and Rice

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
1 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 red or orange pepper, diced
1 tsp ground cumin
salt to taste
1 cup dried green or brown lentils
2 cups sodium-reduced chicken or vegetable broth

Directions
1. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Fry onion, garlic, celery and red pepper for a few minutes. Add cumin and salt. Continue cooking until onions are soft.
2. Stir in the lentils.
3. Add broth and bring to boil.
4. Simmer for about 35-40 minutes until the lentils are tender.
5. Serve over cooked rice, whole grain couscous or quinoa.

Pulse Pledge Week 2 – Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

[Thrilled to meet Chef Michael Smith!]

If you haven’t yet signed up for the Pulse Pledge, I encourage you to do it now and join this amazing global food movement! The challenge is to eat pulses once a week for 10 weeks – and you can do that!

Pulses are dried peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas. They’re super nutritious, delicious, versatile, economical and a sustainable food!

For Week 1 of my Pulse Pledge, I whipped up a delicious gluten-free Chickpea Chocolate Cake and shared with my friends and family.

This week, I made Lentil Shepherd’s Pie – it’s my all time favourite lentil recipe and tastes fantastic! I hope you’ll give it a try! I think Chef Michael would approve!

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Makes 6 servings
Serve with a side salad or other vegetable.

Ingredients
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) stewed tomatoes
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) green lentils (drained and rinsed)
pepper
3 cups mashed potatoes (about 3 large)
1 cup low fat cottage cheese
4 green onions
salt

Directions
1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, carrots and garlic, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes or until softened.
2. Add tomatoes and break them up (if needed) with a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until thickened.
3. Stir in lentils, season with pepper to taste. Transfer to a deep 8 cup (2 L) baking dish.
4. Combine potatoes with cottage cheese and green onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over lentil mixture to cover completely.
5. Bake, uncovered, in 400 F (200 C) oven for 35 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe Source: The Canadian Living Light and Healthy Cookbook, 1991

Comments/Review: You could also use dried green lentils instead of canned. Just simmer 1 cup (250 mL) of rinsed lentils with about 5 cups (1.25 L) of water for 25 minutes or until tender, then drain well and add to recipe.

Get ready for International Year of Pulses!

The United Nations has declared 2016 as International Year of Pulses!

Dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas are examples of pulses. Packed with nutrition, pulses are are a super sources of fibre, iron and protein.

Research from the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that eating 1 serving (3/4 cup) of pulses three times a week lowered the “bad” LDL cholesterol by 5%. Because pulses are a low Glycemic Index food, they cause a slower rise in blood sugar – that’s good news for people with diabetes or anyone watching their blood sugar levels.

Here are some of my favourite pulse recipes which I’ve collected over the years! Enjoy!

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie (made with lentils)

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Red Lentil & Vegetable Dal

Chickpea Chocolate Cake (you’ve got to try this!)

Spring clean your kitchen!

Spring is finally here! So I’m rolling up my sleeves to start cleaning out my kitchen and pantry. Here are 10 foods and ingredients that I ALWAYS have on hand:

1. Brown rice. It contains three times more fibre than white rice, plus it’s a whole grain. Other whole grains in my pantry are quinoa and whole wheat couscous.
2. Cinnamon. I’m a big fan of different spices. Cinnamon adds a wonderful hint of flavour to baked squash and French toast.
3. Healthy oils and margarine. In my pantry, I have different oils – Becel® oil for stir-frying and olive oil for grilling veggies. In my fridge, I have soft non-hydrogenated margarine (Becel® is my family’s favourite) – it’s great for cooking and baking.
4. Red lentils. They don’t need soaking and cook quicker than most other dried legumes.
5. Nuts. Filled with good fats, nuts are so versatile and yummy on their own as a snack. Dry roasted, unsalted almonds, peanuts and walnuts are all great choices.
6. Low-fat milk. To help me get enough calcium and vitamin D, I try to cook with low-fat milk whenever I can – in soups, lattes and even risotto.
7. Low-fat Greek yogurt. I make my own smoothies and love that it’s packed with extra protein.
8. Omega-3 enriched eggs. I’m willing to pay a bit more for the extra nutrition – vitamin D, omega-3 fat and lutein.
9. Tofu. I’ve been eating tofu since I was three years old. It’s my go-to protein on vegetarian nights.
10. Veggies and fruit. Here’s just a list of the 20 veggies and fruit that I have in my kitchen this week: apples, oranges, bananas, berries, pears, grapes, cantaloupe, broccoli, bok choy, butternut squash, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, green beans, snap peas, sweet potatoes, kohlrabi, kale, mushrooms and zucchini!

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