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New Product Spotlight – PC Lentil & Bean Bites

Sue and Executive Chef Michelle Pennock

Sue and Executive Chef Michelle Pennock

Last month, I had the fantastic opportunity to taste test some of the new PC (President’s Choice) Blue Menu products in their test kitchen. And wow, was I ever impressed!

PC Blue Menu is known for their innovative, easy and convenient products. One of my favourites was Lentil & Bean Bites – delicious vegetarian meatballs! They’re made with brown rice, lentils, red beans, black beans, part-skim Mozzarella cheese, quinoa and shawarma seasoning. Looking at the nutrition information, these Lentil & Bean Bites are a source of both fibre and omega-3 fats. Plus a serving of 3 bites contains 140 calorie, 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein and no sugar. Pop them in the oven at 400°F for 12 minutes and they’re ready!

Executive Chef Michelle Pennock served the Lentil & Bean Bites in a Middle Eastern Mezze Platter with a colourful array of vegetables, herbed tahini and warm naan bread. Sure to be a crowd pleaser, this can be served as an appetizer or super-easy supper!

Middle Eastern Mezze Platter

Middle Eastern Mezze Platter

Middle Eastern Mezze Platter

Ingredients
6 carrots
5 tsp (25 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) PC Black Label Harissa Spice Blend
4 cups (1 L) shredded red cabbage (about ¼ of a head)
3 tbsp (45 mL) fresh lemon juice
½ tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp (25 mL) tahini
1 tbsp (15 mL) each chopped fresh cilantro, fresh mint and fresh parsley
1 pkg (400 g) frozen PC Blue Menu Lentil & Bean Bites
1 pkg (250 g) PC Blue Menu Naan Flatbreads (2 flatbreads)
1 pkg (227 g) PC Hummus Chickpea Dip and Spread
1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped
½ English cucumber, thinly sliced

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Arrange 1 oven rack in centre and 1 oven rack in lower third of oven.
2. Peel and trim carrots; halve crosswise. Cut larger pieces lengthwise in quarters and smaller pieces lengthwise in half. Toss together carrots, 1 tbsp oil and harissa in large bowl. Arrange in single layer on parchment paper-lined large baking sheet. Bake in lower third of oven, flipping carrots once, until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, toss together cabbage, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp pepper and remaining 2 tsp oil in separate large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
4. Whisk together tahini, cilantro, mint, parsley, remaining 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp pepper and 2 tbsp water in small bowl until smooth. Set aside.
5. Arrange frozen bites in single layer on greased separate large baking sheet. Bake in centre of oven 5 to 6 minutes. Flip bites; bake in centre of oven 3 minutes. Push bites to 1 side of baking sheet. Arrange flatbreads in single layer on opposite side of sheet; sprinkle flatbreads lightly with water. Bake in centre of oven until bites and flatbreads are hot, 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Stack flatbreads on cutting board; cut into 6 wedges to make 12 pieces total. Arrange flatbreads, lentil bites, carrots, cabbage mixture, hummus, tomatoes and cucumber on large serving platter. Drizzle with tahini mixture.

Serves 6.
Recipe created by Executive Chef Michelle Pennock and reprinted with
permission.

PC Lentil and Bean Bites

Should You Be Worried About Lectins?

Beans_

I love eating different grains and beans. In fact, one of my favourite meals is lentils and rice. But there’s a growing buzz about lectins in these foods. Are lectins the new gluten? Here are 5 things you need to know.

1. Lectins are a family of proteins that bind to carbohydrates. Lectins are found in all foods, but are most concentrated in legumes and grains. Uncooked, raw legumes such as red and white kidney beans are one of the biggest sources of lectins. Lectins help protect plants from attacks by pests and insects.

2. Lectins aren’t easily digested, so they pass through the stomach and into the gut where they may “stick” to the gut wall. Eating high amounts of lectins may damage the lining of the gut, potentially causing digestive issues. For example, eating RAW or undercooked or improperly cooked kidney beans can lead to vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

3. Some people, such as those with Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel syndrome, may be more sensitive to lectins. If you have these conditions, speak to a Registered Dietitian to determine the amount of lectins that will minimize any symptoms or flare-ups.

4. Cooking eliminates almost all of the lectins in foods. Boiling legumes and grains in water for example is an easy way to get rid of lectins. Soaking beans, sprouting seeds and grains, and fermenting foods are other ways to lower the lectin content of foods. Canned beans have very low lectin levels due to the canning process.

5. Remember that many lectin-containing foods also provide important nutrients. Grains offer B vitamins, iron and fibre. Legumes offer protein, fibre, iron and zinc. So don’t worry about lectins. Instead, cook your grains and legumes, and enjoy!

Easy Lunch Ideas for Back to School

Sue Heather beet hummus

A study by researchers at the University of British Columbia found that Canadian children are not eating enough vegetables and fruit during the school day.

The first of its kind, this study looked at 4,827 children across Canada between the ages of six and 17. Using a 24 hour recall, their dietary intakes from 9 am to 2 pm was scored against a School Healthy Eating Index. The Index looks at 11 specific criteria based on Canada’s Food Guide’s recommendations, such as intake of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, milk products and meat and alternatives.

Here are the highlights from the research:
– 1/3 of daily calories (about 750 calories) are consumed at school; almost 25% of these calories came from “other foods” such as candy bars and salty packaged snacks
– Kids are falling short on vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and protein
– The lowest scores were for green and orange vegetables, whole fruit, whole grains and milk products
– The average score was 53.4 out of a possible 100 points
– Teens’ diets scored worse than that of younger kids aged six to eight

Here are a few of my lunch ideas, as shown on my interview with CBC Morning Live today.

Chickpea Lettuce Wrap – Kids are attracted to colours in their meals! A great protein packed and flavourful recipe! Add a glass of milk or fortified soy beverage to round out the meal.
Chickpea lettue wrap

Chicken Pasta Salad – My daughter won 3rd prize in a recipe contest for this recipe when she was in grade 3. Ask your kids to grate the carrots and chop the cucumbers. Balance the lunch with a serving of yogurt.
Chicken Pasta Salad

Beet Hummus with Veggies – Kids love to dip! A great way to team up protein plus produce in the lunchbox! Add mini pitas with cheese cubes for a nutritious lunch.
Beet hummus

Apple Sailboats – It’s as easy as it looks! Slice an apple into wedges and dip in lemon juice to prevent browning. Cut cheese into triangles and attach with a toothpick. Add a handful of whole grain crackers to complete the meal.
Apple sailboats

Zucchini Waffles – Breakfast for lunch, why not? These waffles are made with grated zucchini. (Sneak in the veggies wherever you can!) Add a hard cooked egg or small piece of cooked meat / poultry for protein. Mix a few extra berries with yogurt for “dessert”.
Zucchini Waffles with Fresh Berries

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

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