These Protein-Rich Snacks Are Actually Made from… Lentils!
Check Out These Creative Lentil Snacks and Sides
The Many Benefits of Protein
The three macronutrients that all of us need to function are carbohydrates, fat, and protein; our bodies use each of these critical nutrients in a variety of different ways. Even though we enjoy these three macronutrients every day, we usually don’t give much thought to what they actually do for us!
Protein plays a key role in our health and well-being. Healthline has created an impressive list of scientifically-backed protein benefits, including:
- The ability to better control appetite and hunger
- Increased strength and muscle mass
- Improved bone health and decreased risk of osteoporosis
- A boost in metabolism
- Lowered blood pressure
- Faster recovery after injury
Protein can be found in a variety of food sources including meat and fish, nuts and seeds, eggs, beans, dairy, plants, and even insects.
Why Plant-Based Protein Is Becoming So Popular
While people make their protein choices based upon a number of factors, ranging from taste, cost, availability, and a variety of personal philosophies, there is a growing movement in favor of choosing plant-based protein sources.
While the scientific community often is divided about which protein sources are best, there is plenty of support for those who favor a vegan or vegetarian approach. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center quotes “studies that how that people on vegetarian or vegan diets (which often rely on plant protein) are at a lower risk of certain diseases including cancers, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and ischemic heart disease.”
Those who prefer to get their protein from plants feel that it these types of proteins help them feel fuller longer, contribute to their gut health, add to their longevity, fight disease, and reduce their likelihood of consuming harmful bacteria, notes EatThis.com.
Also, according to Nature’s Path, “plant-based proteins tend to be lower in calories and fat than animal proteins but higher in fiber and essential nutrients. By swapping plant proteins for animal proteins, you can reduce your caloric intake and boost your daily nutrient profile.”
Shining the Spotlight on Lentils
When it comes to protein-rich plant-based options, it turns out that lentils are hard to beat. Lentils are a type of legume. But wait- – what in the world are legumes?
Tufts University tells us that legumes are “a broad category that includes all varieties of beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and peanuts [that also] contain lysine, which is in short supply in many other plant foods. For those who choose to avoid or significantly reduce intake of animal foods, eating legumes daily supplies the needed amount of this amino acid.”
Why are lentils such a nutritional superstar? In addition to lysine, one half-cup serving can feature:
- 9 g of protein
- 8 g of fiber
- 115 calories
- Less than 1 g of fat
- 365 g of potassium
- 18% USDV iron
Great Ways to Get Your Lentils
If you’d like to enjoy the benefits of plant-based protein and the specific nutritional advantages of lentils, there are several ways to add them into your day. Because most North American companies are still focused on peas, beans, and soy as plant-based protein options, you won’t find lentil snacks, sides, soups, and salads around every corner of your favorite grocer store… yet!
No problem: we’ve provided some easy ideas for you right here.
Protein-Rich Snacks and Sides Made from Lentils
Those of you who are familiar with lentils have probably tried them in a soup because they are staples in rustic French and Mediterranean country stews. Or perhaps you’ve enjoyed them in a Moroccan meal or a traditional Indian dish. But have you tried them as a snack or side item?
Lentil snacks and sides are a new and fun way to enjoy the goodness of plant-based protein. To get you started, here are five unique options:
- Soft and Chewy Lentil Granola Bars: This vegetarian granola bar is designed to put a smile on the faces of both kids and adults! It features 5g of protein, 3g of fiber, and 160mg of potassium in every bar.
- Crispy Lentil Energy Bites: Vegan, gluten-free, lentil snacks are a perfectly poppable treat with a one-of-a-kind peanut-y taste.
- Tomato Basil Harvest Snaps: Crazy delicious snacking that’s ready when you are! Vegetarian, gluten-free, 5g of protein, 3g of fiber, 130 calories. These lentil snacks are located in the produce aisle of a grocery store near you.
- Barilla Lentil Penne: Bravo, Barilla, for making a pasta from red lentils. Spice it up with your favorite sauce and you’ll have the perfect side dish tonight.
- Madras Lentils Tasty Bites: Here’s a vegetarian, gluten-free side or hearty protein-rich snack that you can microwave in a hot minute when you’re craving Indian-style cuisine.
Other Ways to Enjoy the Great Benefits of Lentils
Because lentils do not have a strong flavor on their own, they pair well with different spices and seasonings. As the recipes and products above also demonstrate, lentils and products made from lentil flour can showcase a variety of textures, from smooth and soft to crispy and chewy.
As more North Americans become excited about plant-based proteins, lentils will continue to grow in popularity and more and more options should arrive on the market. In the meantime, lentils.org is an excellent resource for those interested in gaining additional information.