3 Healthy lentil recipes perfect for weight loss and a vegetarian diet

  • 5 Minutes Read

Lentils are growing in popularity, perhaps because they cook quickly and are an excellent protein source for plant-based diets. There are many different varieties on the market that work well for salads and soups. Try these healthy lentil recipes from the MyNetDiary Premium recipe collection.

Healthy lentil recipes for weight loss

The word lentil derives from the Latin, lenticula, or lens. Shaped like the lenses in our eyes, all lentils are legumes, with the same basic nutritional benefits– more or less–depending on the variety. You'll find them an excellent source of

The 4-1-1 on lentils

People have been growing and eating lentils for thousands of years, as evidence of their ancient consumption can be found in Western Asia and the Middle East. Grown and consumed around the globe, lentils are mentioned in the Bible, and recipes are found in Greek and Roman writing. Reportedly, hundreds of varieties exist, but the more widely available types of lentils include:

  1. Brown (sometimes called green). The most commonly available lentils. Larger in size, the brown type cooks quickly but doesn't hold its shape so well. Best used for soups or casseroles where a firm lentil isn't required.
  2. Red/Yellow (not to be confused with yellow split peas). Popular in Indian cooking, especially for traditional dal soups. They tend to break down and lose their shape, but that makes them great for dal's creamy consistency.
  3. Black (Beluga). Beluga lentils hold their distinctive round shape when cooked. They take a bit longer to cook but stay intact well and are great for salads and hot casseroles. Find them in specialty food stores if your local grocery doesn't carry them.
  4. French (du Puy). Known for their very deep green, almost black, color, French lentils also take longer to cook and hold their shape. Use in soups when you want a less mushy texture, or use in salads or casseroles.

The standard serving size listed on packages of dry lentils is 1/4 cup dry, which cooks up to 3/4 to 1 cup cooked, depending on the amount of water used. Bring 3-4 cups of water to a boil for every cup of dry lentils. Add the lentils, cover and simmer 20-30 minutes, depending on the tenderness you want for your recipe.

Lentils add high-protein value to vegan and vegetarian diets. As a bonus, they cook quickly compared to other dried legumes, and the flavors work well with lots of different cuisine styles. Check out these recipes for creative ways to cook lentils.

3 Healthy lentil recipes for your weight loss-friendly and vegetarian collection

Black Lentil Salad

Beluga lentils may be more difficult to find, but are worth the effort. Enjoy this flavorful vegetarian dish for a summer evening meal. Accompany with a tossed green salad and warm pita bread.

4 servings

  1. Cook the lentils in 2-3 cups water at a low simmer for 30-40 minutes until done. Add more water as necessary. They should be firm and hold their shape, but not too hard to eat. Drain off any excess water. Set aside to cool.
  2. While lentils are cooking, mince the garlic.
  3. Make the vinaigrette by whisking the garlic, oil, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and tarragon in a small bowl.
  4. When lentils are cool, place in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and stir to mix.
  5. Add the chopped celery, green onions, and tomatoes to bowl and stir to mix.
  6. Place the slivered almonds in a dry skillet and heat on medium-low. Stir occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
  7. Evenly divide the lentil mixture into 4 bowls. Top with tofu crumbles and roasted slivered almonds.

1 large tomato makes about 1 cup chopped.

Tofu crumbles are found in most supermarkets.

For variety, substitute a sweet red pepper or 1/4 cup minced sun-dried tomatoes for the fresh chopped tomatoes.

Per serving: 343 calories, 15g fat, 36g carb, 16g protein, 397 mg sodium, 7g fiber

Red Lentil Soup or Dal

Dal is a traditional Indian soup that has probably as many different recipes as cooks. You need to know these basic concepts: first off, use red lentils cooked in lots of water until creamy. They fall apart easily, so you won't need to puree them at all. Second, use spices like cumin, ginger, and lime. Fresh cilantro serves as a traditional garnish.

Many traditional Indian recipes list a dozen or more spices, some more exotic like asafetida (or hing), a ground tree resin with an aroma similar to garlic. This simplified recipe substitutes minced garlic.

Makes 6 servings

  1. Bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Rinse and drain lentils. Add lentils and turmeric to the pot, turn down heat, and then simmer for 1 ½ hours or until lentils are very soft. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. The broth will cook down a bit, and you can add more water if it gets too thick.
  3. Heat peanut oil in a small pan over medium heat.
  4. Mince the garlic. Add garlic, cayenne pepper, coriander, and cumin to pan and saute for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the sauteed garlic, salt, and lime juice to the pot of cooked lentils and stir.
  6. Chop the cilantro and add to the pot just before serving.
  7. Divide the soup evenly among 6 bowls and serve.

½ lime squeezed makes about 1 tablespoon juice.

To lower the sodium content, decrease amount of salt used in recipe.

For a complete meal, add naan (flatbread) or a rice dish and a vegetable curry dish.

Per serving: 193 calories, 8g fat, 24g carb, 9g protein, 490 mg sodium, 4g fiber. This nutrition information is for the dal only. You need to add any flatbread, rice, or vegetable curry if eaten.

Spiced French Lentils (du Puy lentils)

Du Puy lentils have a somewhat earthy flavor, perhaps because they're traditionally grown on volcanic soil. In fact, the name "du Puy" refers only to lentils grown in a specific region of France with that type of soil. Grown anywhere else, they are just French lentils. Whatever you call them, they do hold their shape better than brown lentils.

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add onion and carrots to skillet. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.
  3. Add water and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add lentils, reduce heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes. Lentils should hold their shape but still be tender enough to eat. If there is excess liquid after cooking, drain lentils and vegetables in a colander.
  4. Transfer lentil mixture to a large bowl. Add capers, lemon juice and zest, salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Stir to mix.
  5. Divide lentil mixture evenly among 4 plates and top with chopped fresh parsley.

French green lentils are also known as du Puy or Puy lentils since they are grown in the Puy region of France.

French green lentils hold their shape well after cooking so they are great for salads.

Serve with brown rice, quinoa, or another grain of choice as you prefer.

Per serving: 258 calories, 7g fat, 37g carb, 13g protein, 374 mg sodium, 7g fiber

Did you know that you can use the Copy & Customize feature to edit any Premium recipe and your edited version will automatically be saved in MyRecipes?

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This blog was reviewed and updated by: Brenda Braslow MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES on February 19, 2024

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