If you are looking for a way to get more vegetarian protein choices into your diet, then why not try lentils? They are very versatile and easy to add to most any dish.

Reasons to love lentils:
• They are super healthy for you. High in fiber, iron and other vitamins and minerals.

• Lentils are lower in starch and have more protein than beans.

• Dried lentils don’t need soaking, so they are a really easy and affordable protein.

• Dried lentils are quick to prepare. They only take 15 minutes to cook.

• To avoid the gassiness associated with beans, simply soak lentils overnight before cooking.

• Unlike sprouted beans, lentils are safe to eat raw.

• If you aren’t sure about adding lentils to your diet, start with red lentils. They can be stirred into most soups and stews and will completely disappear as they cook. No one will ever know if you add a ¼ cup of red lentils to a pot of chili or tomato sauce.

Sprouted Lentil Salad

Lentils are so easy to sprout—which is a perfect, kid-friendly activity. Lentils only take 2 to 3 days to sprout nice long tails, and it is fun to watch them grow. The trick is to select whole dried lentils (not red lentils). Try a mixture of French, green and brown lentils. Mung beans are also a variety of lentil that can be sprouted and eaten raw.

1 cup of dried lentils
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber
2 spring onions
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Soak the lentils in water for 6-10 hours.
2. Place the lentils in a strainer and set out on a plate on the kitchen counter or in a cupboard. You don’t want them to be in direct sunlight, as the sun makes them bitter.
3. Rinse the lentils by running tap water over them, twice a day for 2-3 days until they have sprouted. At this point the lentils can be stored in a container in the fridge for another two days, but it’s best if they are eaten right away.
4. When you are ready to make the salad, start by dicing the tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions into bite-sized pieces.
5. Rinse the sprouts thoroughly.
6. Mix the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Then add the vegetables and sprouts, mixing to combine. Top with the crumbled feta.
7. This salad can be eaten right away, however, it is best if made in advance so the flavours can mix.

Lentil Taco Filling

Brown lentils make a quick and cheap taco filling. This flavourful alternative to refried beans is popular at our house. Tacos are a fun dinner that everyone enjoys. Have kids help with grating cheese, chopping tomatoes and lettuce for the tacos, while you prepare the filling.

1 cup of dried lentils (brown or green work best)
½ diced onion
4 cloves of garlic
½ green pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder (or sweet paprika)
½ tsp ground coriander
3 Tbsp of tomato paste
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp salt

1. Boil the lentils until soft (about 15 min). When they are cooked, drain and set aside.
2. While the lentils cook, start on the rest of the filling by dicing the onion, garlic and green pepper.
3. Heat a frying pan on medium and sauté the diced vegetables until soft.
4. Add the spices to the frying vegetables and cook until fragrant.
5. Then add the cooked lentils, along with the tomato paste, oregano and salt.
6. Mix well, then mash the lentils slightly, adding water as needed (about 2 Tbsp).

Sloppy Joes
This Sloppy Joe recipe is a huge favourite in our house. It’s something that I regularly cook with my 10-year-old. Traditionally, sloppy joe filling is served on soft, white buns, but we like it on toast instead. Either way, it’s delicious!

Sauce:
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 cans of tomato paste (300 ml)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp paprika (smokey is nice)
2 tbsp soy sauce

Filling:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion
1 green bell pepper
6 dill pickles
1 cup brown lentils

1. Boil the lentils for 15 minutes until soft. When they are cooked, drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by roughly chopping the onion, and putting it in a food processor or blender with all of the rest of the sauce ingredients. Let your kids help with blending everything together until it is a delicious and fragrant sauce. Set the sauce aside while you prepare the rest of the filling.
3. Finely dice the onion, green pepper and pickles.
4. Heat a saucepan on medium. Saute the onions until translucent. Lower the heat and add the peppers, pickles and the sauce.
5. Simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Add in the cooked lentils and simmer for another 5 minutes.
7. Serve ½ cup of sloppy joe filling over an open-faced dinner bun and enjoy the mess!

If you are looking for a way to get more vegetarian protein choices into your diet, then why not try lentils? They are very versatile and easy to add to most any dish.

Reasons to love lentils:
• They are super healthy for you. High in fiber, iron and other vitamins and minerals.
• Lentils are lower in starch and have more protein than beans.
• Dried lentils don’t need soaking, so they are a really easy and affordable protein.
• Dried lentils are quick to prepare. They only take 15 minutes to cook.
• To avoid the gassiness associated with beans, simply soak lentils overnight before cooking.
• Unlike sprouted beans, lentils are safe to eat raw.
• If you aren’t sure about adding lentils to your diet, start with red lentils. They can be stirred into most soups and stews and will completely disappear as they cook. No one will ever know if you add a ¼ cup of red lentils to a pot of chili or tomato sauce.

Sprouted Lentil Salad

Lentils are so easy to sprout—which is a perfect, kid-friendly activity. Lentils only take 2 to 3 days to sprout nice long tails, and it is fun to watch them grow. The trick is to select whole dried lentils (not red lentils). Try a mixture of French, green and brown lentils. Mung beans are also a variety of lentil that can be sprouted and eaten raw.

1 cup of dried lentils
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber
2 spring onions
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Soak the lentils in water for 6-10 hours.
2. Place the lentils in a strainer and set out on a plate on the kitchen counter or in a cupboard. You don’t want them to be in direct sunlight, as the sun makes them bitter.
3. Rinse the lentils by running tap water over them, twice a day for 2-3 days until they have sprouted. At this point the lentils can be stored in a container in the fridge for another two days, but it’s best if they are eaten right away.
4. When you are ready to make the salad, start by dicing the tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions into bite-sized pieces.
5. Rinse the sprouts thoroughly.
6. Mix the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Then add the vegetables and sprouts, mixing to combine. Top with the crumbled feta.
7. This salad can be eaten right away, however, it is best if made in advance so the flavours can mix.

Lentil Taco Filling

Brown lentils make a quick and cheap taco filling. This flavourful alternative to refried beans is popular at our house. Tacos are a fun dinner that everyone enjoys. Have kids help with grating cheese, chopping tomatoes and lettuce for the tacos, while you prepare the filling.

1 cup of dried lentils (brown or green work best)
½ diced onion
4 cloves of garlic
½ green pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder (or sweet paprika)
½ tsp ground coriander
3 Tbsp of tomato paste
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp salt

1. Boil the lentils until soft (about 15 min). When they are cooked, drain and set aside.
2. While the lentils cook, start on the rest of the filling by dicing the onion, garlic and green pepper.
3. Heat a frying pan on medium and sauté the diced vegetables until soft.
4. Add the spices to the frying vegetables and cook until fragrant.
5. Then add the cooked lentils, along with the tomato paste, oregano and salt.
6. Mix well, then mash the lentils slightly, adding water as needed (about 2 Tbsp).

Sloppy Joes
This Sloppy Joe recipe is a huge favourite in our house. It’s something that I regularly cook with my 10-year-old. Traditionally, sloppy joe filling is served on soft, white buns, but we like it on toast instead. Either way, it’s delicious!

Sauce:
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 cans of tomato paste (300 ml)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 ½ tsp paprika (smokey is nice)
2 tbsp soy sauce

Filling:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion
1 green bell pepper
6 dill pickles
1 cup brown lentils

1. Boil the lentils for 15 minutes until soft. When they are cooked, drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by roughly chopping the onion, and putting it in a food processor or blender with all of the rest of the sauce ingredients. Let your kids help with blending everything together until it is a delicious and fragrant sauce. Set the sauce aside while you prepare the rest of the filling.
3. Finely dice the onion, green pepper and pickles.
4. Heat a saucepan on medium. Saute the onions until translucent. Lower the heat and add the peppers, pickles and the sauce.
5. Simmer for 15 minutes.
6. Add in the cooked lentils and simmer for another 5 minutes.
7. Serve ½ cup of sloppy joe filling over an open-faced dinner bun and enjoy the mess!

Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog fermentingforfoodies.com.