It is a well known fact that a plant-based diet is a strong foundation in the anti-cancer kitchen. As proteins are an important nutrient to include, when it comes to plant protein we have to ensure that we consume all essential amino acids so readily available in complete animal protein.
Lentils are part of the bean and legumes family, but unlike beans they do not contain sulfur which is often the cause of the much dreaded wind. Lentils have been a staple food for a very long time in Europe, India and the Middle East. Archaeologists have found lentil seeds dating back thousands of years in villages and even in Egyptian tombs.
Lentils are an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins such as folic acid and many trace minerals. Their high fiber content helps regulate our blood sugar levels and help lower cholesterol levels. One study conducted in the 1990’s involving over 90,000 women concluded that in those participants consuming a higher amount of lentils and beans the frequency of breast cancer was reduced by 24%.
Lentils come in different colors and shapes. My favorites are the split red variety for soups and lentil hummus spreads, and the little dark French Puy lentils that remain pretty sturdy even after cooking, ideal for salads. Neither of these need to be soaked beforehand, which means I do not need to remember to do that, and can cook them in a spur of the moment.
In my Creamy Pineapple Lentil Salad below, I used the French Puy variety. I buy them in bulk and store them in an airtight glass jar in my dark kitchen cupboard, this way they keep for months on end. Check for any broken, cracked or discolored ones before you cook them, I do this while rinsing mine in a sieve under running cold water.
In case you find them canned, make sure they do not have added salt or anything else but lentils in them, and that the can is at least BPA (Bisphenol-A)-free, this is a chemical in the often plastic-lined cans that has been found to leach into the food and is a known endocrine disruptor, meaning it can interfere with your hormone production.
CREAMY PINEAPPLE LENTIL SALAD
Kombu / Kelp is a broad, dried seaweed that releases its rich mineral content into the product it is cooked with. It also serves to reduce the gas-producing properties often associated with legumes such as beans (less with lentils). A little piece will unfold to almost 3 times its size while cooking. Do not eat it, remove it after cooking. You can find it dried in the organic section of your local supermarket, health food stores or the pantry section of some integrative pharmacies.
- 1 cup French Le Puy Lentils
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 thumb-size piece of Kombu / Kelp (dried seaweed)
- 1 red and yellow bell pepper, chopped into fine cubes
- 3 mini cucumbers, finely diced
- ½ cup fresh pineapple, finely cubed
- 3 green onion stalks, finely sliced
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon mint leaves, minced (VERY finely chopped)
- ½ cup goat’s cheese, crumbled (you can buy it like that, alternatively use feta cheese)
- ¼ cup olive oil (EVOO)
- ⅛ cup balsamic vinegar
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Dash of water
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- Season to taste: Celtic sea salt, Herbamare herb salt, black pepper
- Combine lentils with 2 cups water, garlic clove and kombu in a saucepan, simmer until all water is absorbed and lentils are cooked through but still firm and a little crunchy. Allow to cool.
- Combine all salad ingredients.
- Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together vigorously.
- Pour over salad and mix well.
- Let stand in fridge a while for flavors to unfold. May need to top up seasoning.
Mudryi AN, Yu N, Aukema HM, “Nutritional and health benefits of pulses”, Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014 Nov;39(11):1197-204 doi: 10.1139/apnm-2013-0557. Epub 2014 Jun 13
Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash