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Power Up with Protein!

Here’s a fun fact: most foods contain protein, even if only in trace amounts!

Most of us associate protein with poultry, beef, pork, seafood, and eggs. What you may not know is there are plenty of other sources, usually belonging to a group called legumes, which offer us a significant amount of protein, especially when paired with an item from the grains group.

Legumes include nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils. Though they are incomplete proteins, when paired with a grain they make a complete protein, ie. Rice and beans!

Our bodies need protein in order to metabolize properly and to rebuild muscles and repair tissues. It is recommended that 10-15% of our calories come from protein and that we vary our sources throughout the week.

As we learned in February, National Heart Month, overconsumption of meats and dairy can lead to high cholesterol and in turn, cardiovascular disease. Therefore, make sure to keep your meats lean, your portions small and include heart-healthy sources like seafood and legumes at least twice a week.

Warm Citrus Lentils

Makes: 3 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 cup fennel, shaved or thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 large orange
  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • ½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

(Optional: cooked rice)

Directions:

  1. Rinse and sort lentils to remove any debris. In a medium saucepan, add lentils and two cups of water.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until desired tender (Note: Lentils may not absorb all water. Drain if necessary). Once cooked, place in a bowl and allow lentils to cool.
  3. Zest orange into a small bowl. Slice off remaining rind and cut each end. Halve the orange lengthwise. Using one orange halve, carefully slice out orange segment, as close to the separating membrane as possible. Set aside. Juice the other halve into the bowl with the orange zest.
  4. Take the small bowl with the orange juice and zest. Add your olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to make a citrus dressing. Whisk together.
  5. Once lentils are cooled, add your fennel, orange segments, mint and dressing. Gently stir in.
  6. Serve warm on a bed of rice!

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 145 Calories, 7 g Protein, 2.7 g Fat (<1 Sat), 23 g Carbohydrate, 7 g Fiber, 71 mg Sodium, 0 mg Cholesterol

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