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Lentils, Meat your New Main Dish.

Heart disease, cancer and diabetes, (and now Covid-19) are the leading causes of death in the US. Adding more plant proteins and reducing the amount of red meat/animal protein is a super simple change that can lower your chances of disease and boost immune health.

Here's the deal, you can either completely swap your ground turkey, beef, or chicken with lentils ORRR go 50/50. I recommend the latter. You won't even notice, I promise!

The benefits?

  • Stretching your dollar (plant proteins are cheaper than animal proteins)

  • Pack with polyphenols, which boost digestion, brain health, reduce inflammation, and protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers.

  • Packed with protein, yes, 1 cup has ~18 g protein

  • They even have 37% iron, b vitamins, and 15g fiber, which keeps you full longer so helps with appetite, weight control, cholesterol, ... the list goes on.

Shhhh don't tell the fam. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

Lentils, compared to dried beans, don't require pre-soak and boiling for hours. Lentils pretty much cook similar to grains --> 1 cup dried lentil + 3 cups water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Lentil Sloppy Joes


  • 1/2 cup lentils, cooked

  • 1/2 cup ground turkey or beef, cooked (or all lentils)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 red onion, chopped

  • Spinach (1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup frozen)

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • ½ cup ketchup

  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste

  • ¼ tsp cumin

  • 1/2 cup water or reserved lentil water

  • Salt to taste


  • Spray a large pan with avocado oil (I use a Misto sprayer). On high, sauté garlic, onions, spinach, and carrots in pot for 10 mins. Add 2-4 Tbsp water as needed to prevent burning, stir every two minutes. (Adding water limits the amount of oil needed).

  • Add in lentils &/or turkey or beef, ketchup, tomato paste, cumin, and water. Lower heat and let simmer without lid for 15-25 minutes or until sauce thickens. Taste and add salt as needed.

  • Enjoy on whole wheat bread!

2-Ingredient BBQ lentils


  • ½ cup canned Rienzi lentils

  • 2 Tbsp True Made BBQ sauce

  • Onion, chopped

Directions: Add 1 tsp avocado oil to pan. Over medium heat, sauté onions. Once caramelized add cooked lentils and BBQ sauce. Heat for 5 minutes and serve.

Serving Suggestions:

- Over a roasted sweet potato

- Shepard’s pie style add to bowl and top with mashed potatoes

- Inside the ingredient dough recipe (see below)

- Buddha Bowl – serve over rice along with roasted veggies

- In a pita or hamburger bun topped with homemade coleslaw

- Tacos – serve with guac, plain Greek yogurt and salsa

Lentil Empanadas

Ingredients for dough: (serves 1)

  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour

(To make your own by combining ½ c unbleached all-purpose or whole wheat flour + ¾ tsp baking powder + ½ tsp kosher salt)

  • 1/3 cup + 1-2 Tbsps 0% fat Fage yogurt

Ingredients before baking:

  • 1 Egg, whisked

  • Everything but the Bagel Seasoning


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. If you are making your own self-rising flour, mix flour, salt and baking powder in bowl. Add 1/3 yogurt and mix with fork until it forms a crumbled dough. Add additional 1-2 Tbsp Greek yogurt if dough is too dry/crumbly.

3. Use hands to knead dough. A small firm pizza dough will form. Transfer to cutting board.

4. If sticky use extra four.

5. Roll out dough in oval shape, as thin as possible without breaking.

6. Add ¼ cup bbq lentils. Fold over like an empanada. Press edges down with fork.

7. Whisk egg in bowl and brush each empanada. Sprinkle with everything but the bagel seasoning

8. Bake in oven for 15- 20 minutes.

Veggie Filled Sheppard’s Pie

Ingredients for the filling: (serves 1)

  • 1 tsp avocado oil

  • 4 oz lentils

  • 1 carrot, roasted and diced

  • ¼ onion, roasted and diced

  • 1 clove garlic, roasted and minced

  • 2 Tbsp frozen peas

  • 2 Tbsp organic frozen corn

  • 1-2 Tbsp low sodium broth

  • 1-3 drops Worcestershire sauce

  • ½ tsp each – thyme, rosemary leaves, chopped

  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste

Ingredients for the potato:

  • 1 white potato, microwaved for 5 minutes until soft

  • 1 Tbsp hummus

  • Salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Saute carrots, onion and garlic with oil for 5-10 minutes. Add canned lentils remaining ingredients.

  2. While that cooks, mash potatoes with skin. Add salt and hummus.

  3. Transfer lentils to baking dish. Top with mashed potatoes. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes or until potatoes start to brown.

Lower cholesterol with Lentil Taco Tuesday night

INGREDIENTS (Makes 4 servings)

  • 1-2 tsp avocado oil

  • 1 finely chopped onion

  • 2 bell peppers, chopped

  • 1-2 clove garlic, chopped

  • 1 cup cooked lentils

  • Spices: ½ tbsp Mrs.Dash fiesta lime seasoning, ½ tbsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder


  • 1/2 cup yogurt

  • 1 cup salsa

  • 1-2 tbsp guacamole per serving

  • Serve with either wraps OR taco shells

Directions: Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion, peppers, and garlic for 3 minutes. Add lentils and spices. Mash with a rubber spatula. Spoon 1/4 cup lentil mixture into each taco shell. Top with 2 heaping teaspoons yogurt mixture, salsa and guacamole.


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Registered Dietitian & Sports Nutritionist
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