If they're good enough for Prince George, then by all means they must be good enough for you, too.
That's right, lentils are all the rage — thanks to the trendsetting royal 4-year-old. After word got out that the London school Prince George attends serves puy lentils topped by smoked mackerel, the U.K. saw a surge in demand for the legumes. Perhaps this craze will carry over to the United States.
So if you're ready to jump on the bandwagon, here's the info on these popular legumes.
Known to be heart-healthy
A lentil is an edible pulse. As a bushy annual plant of the legume family, it’s known for its lens-shaped seeds. The seeds grow in pods, usually with two seeds in each. Chickpeas, beans, and peas are also part of the pulses group and are all an excellent source of fiber and protein.
“A diet rich in pulses, which includes lentils, is linked to a lowered risk of cholesterol and heart disease, reduced risk of certain cancers, and reduced instance of obesity,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, nutritionist and author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies.
For vegetarians, lentils provide plant-protein, adds Dawn Jackson Blatner, dietitian and author of The Superfood Swap. “They are also a source of fiber and minerals such as iron and zinc, which can be hard nutrients for vegetarians to get enough of,” she says.
Make a great replacer
Since lentils are a great carrier of flavor, Palinski-Wade says they’re often used in traditional meaty dishes to either replace the meat or to make the meaty dish heartier.
“For instance, lentils can replace most or all of the sausage in lasagna,” she says.
Blatner agrees, noting that you can incorporate lentils into recipes that you would normally use ground beef in, so that meatballs, meat-marinara sauce, meatloaf, and ground beef taco filling become lentil-based and meat-free — just like in her favorite meatball recipe!
Sweets can get in on the fun, too. Flour in traditional baked good recipes, such as brownies, can be swapped out with lentils to increase the fiber and protein content of the recipe, notes Palinski-Wade.
Whether you want to be like (or eat like) Prince George, or simply want to add variety to your diet, Blatner says you can't go wrong with these legumes.
“Lentils are an incredibly versatile food and can be incorporated into almost any meal or snack,” she says. “They can be enjoyed alone or as part of a recipe for an easy, affordable way to boost your fiber and protein intake.”
Try some recipes
Looking for ways to incorporate more lentils into your routine? Check out these recipes.
Lentil and eggplant lasagna
Vegan lentil tacos
Vegan lentil loaf
If you want meatloaf without the meat, go with this vegan lentil loaf from Yummy Mummy Kitchen. The rest of the recipe calls for much of the same ingredients as your mom's famous meatloaf. Get the recipe!
Cajun spiced smoky vegan sloppy joes
Warm cumin roasted carrot, red onion, and lentil salad
Sure, you've got that main dish down, but it needs the perfect salad. Try this warm cumin roasted carrot, red onion, and lentil salad from Deliciously Ella. Enjoy it as a main dish, or serve on the side! Get the recipe!
Spiced vegan lentil soup
Crockpot sweet potato lentils
Crockpot lovers will dig these crockpot sweet potato lentils from Pinch of Yum. With vegetable broth and coconut milk in the mix, this warm and hearty dish makes a good sidekick to any main dish. Get the recipe!
Flourless lentil chocolate brownies
It will be lots of fun to disguise lentils in these flourless lentil chocolate brownies from kiipfit. They don't take much more effort than your traditional brownie recipe. Plus, dates and pecans add extra delight. Get the recipe!