It's that time of year when lots of us are trying to eat a bit more healthily, maybe cut back on meat or even try being vegan as part of Veganuary.
So let's talk about lentils — the delicious and nutritious legumes that can be used to make healthy family meals such as soups or meat-free versions of bolognese, stews or chillies.
Getting the kids to try lentils may seem like a challenge but try these family favourite recipes from the Early Years Nutrition Partnership and see how you get on.
And if the kids don't like them, don't sweat it — it just means there's more for you and your freezer!
What’s not to love about lentils? With several different varieties, this versatile veggie is packed with protein, rich in calcium and low in fat.
These tiny legume heroes boost energy, improve immunity and promote bone health – perfect for active and growing children!
Lentils are a source of calcium, phosphorus, iron and B vitamins and can either be bought dried or ready prepared in a tin, making them really easy to make into a quick, delicious and nutritious meal.
Our Registered Nutrition Professionals, Yvonne and Gill, share their favourite recipes to get your little ones loving lentils too.
Yvonne’s Lentil Bolognese
Yvonne says: “This is a really good recipe for batch cooking! It uses cheap store cupboard ingredients and is a good way of using up any fresh vegetables. Obviously it can be easily halved if you just want to cook enough for dinner time.”
1 tbsp oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 medium carrots
2 celery sticks
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tins green lentils
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 courgette chopped, handful of mushrooms and / or any other vegetables (optional)
Finely chop the onion, garlic, celery and carrot, then add to a large pan with the oil. Cook for 5-10 minutes until soft.
Add the oregano, tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce and stir through.
Drain the lentils and add to the pan with the tomatoes.
Stir well, add the veggies suggested above or any other chopped vegetables you wish, and simmer for 20-40 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Add pepper to taste.
Serve with spaghetti and a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Gill’s Lentil Lasagne
Gill says, “It tastes great, and the family love it! It’s fairly easy to make, especially as you don’t have to make the traditional cheese/white sauce as you just mix the yoghurt, eggs and a little cheese. It contains a good amount of vegetarian protein with the lentils and the egg which is important.
1 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
175g red lentils
400g tinned tomatoes
300 ml stock
300 ml milk (2 x 150ml)
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp mixed herbs
A pinch of ground pepper
8 sheets lasagne
225g natural yoghurt
100g grated cheddar
Place a little oil in a pan, add the onion and pepper, and cook until soft.
Add the lentils, tomatoes, stock, herbs and pepper and 150 ml milk, cook for 15-20 minutes until lentils have softened.
In a bowl mix together the eggs, yoghurt, 150 ml milk and half of the cheese.
Place half the lentil mix in an ovenproof dish, cover with half the lasagne sheets, and a layer of the egg/yoghurt/cheese mix. Repeat this, again topping with the remaining egg/yoghurt mix. Top with the grated cheese.
Bake for 35-40 mins at 180°C.
These recipes first appeared on the website of the Early Years Nutrition Partnership.