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Meet The "Miss Congeniality" Bean

Find out why the lowly lentil is getting some respect.

Patricia Sund


"Lentils are friendly — the Miss Congeniality of the bean world."
— Laurie Colwin, Writer

Lentils are indeed the Miss Congeniality of the bean world and they are are good eating for the flock.

There’s a lot of great aspects of using lentils in your bird’s diet. Convenience is just one of them, but it’s one I think is a terrific attribute. They can be sprouted, which is wonderful for all you sprouters out there.

Husked lentils are a legume that cook in about 15 minutes, start to finish, and you don’t need to soak them first. (I guess in the dating world, Miss Congeniality would be considered, "Fast.”)

In doing some research I found out some interesting facts about our little "Miss Congeniality.”

  • Did you know there is a National Lentil Festival every year in Pullman, Washington that includes kiddie rides, a lentil chili cook-off and a lentil pancake breakfast? No, I didn’t either.
  • The Latin word for lentil is Lens Lentis. Apparently a double-convex lens is named as such because it bears a resemblance to a lentil.
  • Lentils, along with eggs, are served to Jewish mourners after a death. The symbolism of this tradition is that both eggs and lentils are round. This represents the cycle of life that never stops. After the lentils and eggs are served they may eat other foods, but it’s eggs and lentils first.
  • In the United States, people from the South eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day in hopes of a prosperous hew year. They do the same in Italy and Hungary but in those countries, the legume of choice is the lentil.

They’ve been cultivated for about 8,000 years and have a pretty long shelf life. In dried form, they keep well at room temperature and come in about second or third in protein levels of vegetables. They have about 18 grams of protein in a cup, second only to soybeans which contain about 29 gram per cup. They’re low in fat, low in calories and they have no cholesterol. They’re also high in folate, phosphorus and iron. Lentils are nice source of dietary fiber, copper, phosphorus and manganese.

But wait, there’s more! They are a handy source of vitamin B1, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and vitamin B6. And of course you’ve got all that protein going on, so they’re a good nutritionally. They’re also low in fat and high in fiber. They even help reduce existing cholesterol levels. Now we’re on the bonus plan here!

Lentils are beans. And being a bean puts "Miss Congeniality” into a very interesting club. Beans have high levels of folic acid. Folic acid prevents the buildup of amino acids. If this particular amino acid, called homocysteine is allowed to remain at high levels, this high level allows a person to become three times more vulnerable to stroke and heart attack.

So you can see what a pal lentils can be. And did I mention that they’re inexpensive?Now that’s a real pal.

Lentils are an attractive looking little bean. They come in different colors and varieties, but the nutritional value is about the same in all varieties. However, red or pink varieties have a lower fiber level of 11 percent compared to the green variety with a fiber level of 31 percent.

The lowly lentil? I think not.

Try this lentil salad for your flock:

Not-So-Lowly Lentil Salad
Follow the direction on the package of lentils to cook. Don’t overcook them. Drain and cool. Place in a bowl.

Add torn arugula, walnut pieces, dried unsweetened fruit such as cherries or cranberries, chopped cilantro, some fresh sprouts and some fresh cut carrots, bell pepper, and the seasonal vegetable of your choice such as jicama.

Make a small amount of vinaigrette out of coconut oil and a a bit of apple cider vinegar. Just enough to sprinkle a bit on. Combine the 2 in a small jar and shake to blend. Sprinkle over the salad and serve.

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Posted: January 1, 2015, 12:00 a.m. PDT

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Meet The "Miss Congeniality" Bean

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Reader Comments
Not to mention that Ms. Congeniality is pretty, too! A nutrition powerhouse for both the flock and the caretaker. Enjoy the recipes together.
Carol, Silver Spring, MD
Posted: 1/6/2015 2:11:12 PM
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