Lentils have an amazing nutrition profile. Here’s a collection of 5 easy dietitian-approved lentil recipes that kids (and their parents!) love.
As a Registered Dietitian and busy mom of three, lentils are so easy for me to love. Lentils are a form of “pulse” (the pulse family includes chickpeas, dried beans, lentils, and dried peas). Not only do they boast a stellar nutritional profile (they are loaded full of protein, fibre, iron, vitamins, and minerals), they’re also economical, super easy and versatile, and provide nutritious plant-based protein. They’re also great for adding to healthy snacks and (surprisingly!) desserts and baked goods (see my recipe for flourless lentil chocolate muffins below!).
Lentils are an easy plant-based protein source
When I talk about my favourite foods, lentils is always at the top of my list, not only because I’m a dietitian and care deeply about providing my family with nutritious meals and snacks, but also because I don’t have loads of time to prepare them (single mom of 3 here!). Eating and serving plant-based foods is important to me, and lentils are at the top of my list.
Whether it’s replacing 1/2 of the ground beef with lentils for spaghetti sauce, or making homemade, protein-rich granola bars, lentils provide an excellent source of plant-based protein among several other nutrients. Protein is essential for proper growth and development for kids. Read more about how much protein kids need.
Lentils (and other pulses) have so many health benefits
As health experts we know that consumption of dried beans, peas and lentils can have a positive impact on diet quality and health, including decreasing the chances of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Check out how lentils stack up nutritionally-speaking when compared to these nutritious whole grains:
Lentils vs. Cereal Grains Consumed in a Similar Fashion
|Pulse Type||Protein (g)||Fibre (g)||Folate (mcg)||Iron (mg)||Potassium (mg)||Magnesium (mg)||Zinc (mg)|
|Whole grain rice||2.6||1.5||4||0.4||43||43||0.71|
Not only this, but lentils are also locally grown for us Canadians! Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of lentils (we export to over 130 countries around the world!). Did you know that Saskatchewan produces 95% of Canada’s lentils?
Lentils are a great finger food for babies and toddlers!
Lentils are a great starter food for babies learning how to eat solid foods. They are rich in essential nutrients that are important for baby’s growth and development such as iron, protein, magnesium and phosphorous. Simply cook and mash or puree lentils and serve with a spoon (or allow baby to self-feed if they are able to), or make my lentil nuggets (with no added salt) and let your babies self-feed! Lentil meatballs are another great finger food. Combine ground chicken, turkey or beef with a can of rinsed lentils. Add an egg or two, herbs of choice, garlic powder, and some oats. Combine, roll into balls and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool and serve to your baby or toddler (or anyone in the family really!).
Want more lentil recipe ideas? Here are my kids and my favourite 5 lentil recipes. We hope you enjoy!