Paula Recommends …Red Lentils

Protein, as one of the three macronutrients,* is an important part of a healthy diet. Plant sources of protein such as lentils are high on the list of foods recommended by the American Cancer Society in its prevention guidelines. Lentils are hearty, convenient and cheap. They have plenty of potassium, iron and vitamin B-1 …and every cooked cup contains a hefty 18 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber and only 230 calories! Here are two delicious ways to prepare red lentils.

Classic Red Lentils (for a hearty winter dish)
1 cup red lentils
2 cups of water
1 bay leaf
1 clove of garlic
extra-virgin olive oil
black pepper

1. Combine red lentils, water, bay leaf and garlic clove.
2. Simmer until tender, 8-10 minutes.
3. Remove bay leaf and garlic.
4. Add scant salt to taste.
5. Drizzle each serving with 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of black pepper.

Nutritional information: Makes 3 one-cup servings. Per serving: 290 calories; 1 gram saturated fat; 18 grams protein; 40 grams carbohydrate; 9 grams fiber; 300 milligrams sodium 

Greek-Style Red Lentil Salad
1 cup dried red lentils
6 cups water
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 lemon (juice + zest)
1/4  cup red wine vinegar
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup fresh Italian parsley
½ cup Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped (any tomato is fine)
1⁄4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/3 cup green bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup fennel bulb, finely diced
1 oz feta cheese, crumbled
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

1. Bring lentils and water to a boil and cook for 5 minutes (or until lentils are al dente).
2. Drain and rinse under cold water.
3. In a bowl, toss the lentils with the oregano, lemon juice and zest, and vinegar.
4. Allow the mix to marinate for at least 2 hours.
Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and serve.

Nutritional information: Serves 6. Per serving: 150 calories; 3 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 7 grams fiber; 200 milligrams sodium; 24 grams carbohydrate; 9 grams protein