Guest Author - Cynthia Kilmartin
Lentils have had a bad rap over our generation. Maybe because of their popularity with the hippy movement in the 70's they seem to have taken on the role of 'food for vegetarians' and not eaten as much by the general population. This is changing and I think lentils are coming back into fashion. I find when talking to friends and other mums that often people are a little scared of lentils as they don't know what to do with them or they are worried that you have to soak them or give them some kind of special preparation. There is also such a variety of lentils out there that it can be difficult to know what to choose.
Lentils contain good amounts of both protein and carbohydrate, and a good source of vitamins and minerals in particular folate. They contain high levels of iron, potassium and magnesium, which are great for blood and energy levels. Being a high GI food they prevent spikes in blood sugar so can help kid's retain their energy longer. They also don't contain gluten or other common allergens. Yellow lentils are one of the fist solid food babies eat in many cultures.
Here is a quick, easy and very healthy recipe that is delicious and a great way to introduce your kid's to lentils.
I use dry yellow lentils in this recipe, you could use red or white lentils. Red, white and yellow lentils may sometimes be called peeled lentils, as they have had their seed coat removed. This makes them much easier to cook and removes any need to soak them. However you can use any of the lentil varieties easily available in jars or cans. Instead of boiling these just rinse them and add them directly to the pan.
¾ of a cup of dry yellow lentils (200gms)
half a medium sized sweet potato
1 tbsp of oil
half a small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp of mild curry powder
½ a tsp of turmeric
approximately a fifth of each of a red, yellow and green bell pepper
a quarter of a zucchini
a handful of green beans (any variety)
Put a medium pan of water on to boil. Peel and chop your carrot and sweet potato into roughly half inch cubes. When water is boiling add lentils, sweet potato and carrot.
Finely chop your onion and garlic, slice the peppers into thin slices, a chop the mushrooms. Heat a large fry pan to medium heat and add the oil. Add onions, garlic, curry powder and turmeric. Then add the peppers, and mushrooms. Keep turning all ingredients occasionally so they don't burn on one side but get lightly browned.
While you have been chopping your onions and peppers etc, your lentils should be nearly ready. When your carrots and sweet potato are tender, add the beans and zucchini to the boiling water for a few minutes. Drain this mixture in a colander and add to the fry pan.
Stir it all together and you are done. This will serve 4 as a meal or 6 as an accompaniment to a meat dish: for example chicken legs, pork chops or mildly spiced kebobs.