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HOME CHEF By Michael W. Sasser

BEANS, BEANS, THE MAGICAL FRUIT... (PART 1)

LENTIL LOVE

K, so you know the rest of the lyric, but we just won't go there. Instead, periodically, we will return to the subject of beans (actually legumes) numerous times this year, to extol the virtues of this diverse and healthy ingredient. Eventually, we will discuss a number of legumes (beans, peas, lentils), but I am no fool. Growing up in Miami, I'd be setting myself up for a lot of tut-tuts if I dared try to tell a Florida abuelo how to best prepare black or red beans; or one of my own relatives in Western rural country how to whip up the best pintos. Frankly, I can't come close to the experts when it comes to making certain beans – well, making them right, that is. Others, I've gotten pretty good with, especially the ones my particular diet elevates, and which are found in many of the cuisines that I am most familiar with. Among these are lentils. Yes, they are the basis for a satisfying soup, but they can be used for other things as well. Lentils are a lens-shaped legume with high nutritional value. One tbsp of boiled lentils has roughly 14 calories, zero fat or natural sodium, 2.5 grams of carbohydrates (set off by 1 gram of fiber) and a good 1.1 grams of protein. For the vegetarian leaning, they are a good source of protein and earth nutrients; for those worried about blood sugar, they are slow burning, green carbs with lots of fiber and potassium to boot. Some studies declare lentils "superfoods" because of their value to diabetics in particular. 8 WIREMAG.COM #30 2018

Photo credit: Š depositphotos.com | Peteer

In culinary terms, some feel the lentil is more akin to a split pea. But they have less of a "green" taste and maintain some of their texture a little more like a bean. There are all sorts of lentils now, defined mostly by color. Reality check: the variances are really more aesthetic, most people won't notice much of a taste difference when they are included in a dish. So what dishes, you ask? Well, lentils come packaged with a lot more than one person can use without placing an ample supply in the freezer or only using a few at a time. I do things differently... I cook an entire bag of lentils, setting some aside for three different uses over the course of the week. Oh, and that aisle where you find lentils, peas and beans? When someone says he or she can't eat healthy because it is too costly, I like to take them down this aisle and the ones with the ancient grains. Oh, look, some of the world's cheapest food is also some of the healthiest, with rice and beans creating an ideal protein and popular in places with low incidents of diabetes and heart disease.

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