Day two of our #PlantPoweredProtein series brings us to lentils. While lentils may sound pretty boring to talk about, they're one of my favorite members of the legume family. Not only are they an excellent source of lean protein (around 18g of protein per 1 cup and less than 1g of fat), but they are such a versatile food to cook with. I've had them in soups, salads, chili, tacos...and today, we have them in burgers (see recipe below). But before we get to that, here's a little more about why you should love lentils, too.
- Fiber: Eating proper amounts of fiber is incredibly important for our bodies and yet most of us don't get nearly as much as we should. Lentils pack about 16g of fiber per 1 cup, putting you well on your way to the recommended daily intake of 25-30g of fiber per day. The fiber content of lentils also help to keep us fuller longer, which is great for weight management, and because lentils are super rich in dietary fiber, they make our gut happy. Lentils contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which help with things like keeping you regular, aiding in preventing digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Diverticulitis (inflammation of the small pouches aka diverticula of our digestive tract), reducing the risk of heart disease, regulating blood sugar...just to name a few.
- Healthy heart: Because lentils contain soluble fiber, they're great at lowering cholesterol / helping to keep our cholesterol levels in a healthy balance and preventing hypertension. Lentils are also very low in fat and sodium, which help us maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
- Essential Nutrients: Iron, folate, magnesium and zinc are abundant in lentils and these are just some of the key minerals that our bodies depend on for a healthy immune system.
- Inexpensive: Adequate sources of protein do not have to break the bank. Lentils are an awesome source of inexpensive protein and can be found in most bulk food sections of grocery stores for cheap! Your body and wallet will thank you. :)
Okay, lets get to the yummy stuff...these lentil burgers. I found this recipe from Vegan Richa that sounded really yummy and I'm adapting our recipe from that. We're making lentil cauliflower burgers with sweet potato chips and let me tell you....this meal is bomb.
What You'll Need:
For the burger patties:
- 1/2 cup dried lentils. I used green lentils, but you can use whatever variety you like.
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 2 cups vegetable stock (or water, but the burgers will be less flavorful)
- 1 tsp salt, divided in half
- 1 tsp garlic powder, divided in half
- 1 tsp cumin powder, divided in half
- 2 cups of grated cauliflower. Pro tip: buy the packaged cauliflower that's already grated for you...time saver!
- 1 small jalapeño, diced (as always, omit if you don't care for spice)
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 2 TBS almond flour (or whatever flour you prefer)
- 2 TBS chia and/or hemp seeds (optional) - I decided to toss these in there for a little extra boost of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
For the sweet potato chips:
- 1 organic sweet potato
- 1 TBS olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt or pink himalayan salt (optional)
Let's Make It:
Believe it or not, our chips actually take the longest to make so we'll start with those. I love this sweet potato chip recipe from Minimalist Baker. She has everything down to a science and these chips always come out perfectly crisp and yummy!
I will warn you that this recipe does take a little time / patience, so these are great to make ahead of time or on the weekend.
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
- Thoroughly rinse and dry your sweet potato and slice it as uniformly thin as possible (I used my mandolin and it worked perfectly. If you don't have one, just use a very sharp knife to get the slices as thin and consistent in size as you can.
- Toss slices in 1 TBS of olive oil to lightly coat, then sprinkle with salt. Lay out in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 2 hours (this is the patience part), flipping the chips once at the halfway point to ensure even cooking.
- Remove the chips once they're crisp and golden brown. It's okay if some of them feel a little tender in the middle -- take them out and let them rest for at least 10 minutes to continue to crisp up.
- Serve immediately if possible. If not, store in a sealed container.
Now for the burgers!
- Bump up your oven to 400 degrees.
- Soak the lentils in hot water for one hour (at the very least).
- Get your onion going on the stove in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil and medium - high heat. Once the onions become soft and translucent, rinse and drain the lentils and then add them to the pot to hang out with the onions for a couple of minutes, reducing the heat to medium and stirring to combine.
- Add your spices (1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 cumin powder) to the onions and lentils. Stir to combine, add your vegetable stock, stir again, cover and then cook on medium-low for about 45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Stir occasionally.
- Next, grab your cauliflower and spread it out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Bake the cauliflower for 15 minutes until some of the pieces get crispy.
- Add the cauliflower to the cooked lentils along with the rest of your ingredients (salt, garlic powder, cumin powder, chili powder and diced jalapeño). Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Add flour and stir until the mixture comes together, adding more flour if needed.
- Shape into burger patties by hand. Bake on parchment-lined baking sheet for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees. I took my patties out at the 20 minute mark, flipped them and then put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. The result? A nice crispy crust on the outside and tender goodness on the inside.
- The patties can be made ahead, shaped and refrigerated and / or frozen.
And here is the finished product! Oh how I wish you could smell my kitchen right now, you guys...those spices are so fragrant and yummy! I decided to top mine with a tiny bit of vegan mayo, sliced roasted red pepper and avocado! I opted for no bun...because well, 1. we don't have any in our house and 2. these burgers are so filling, you really don't even need one.
Please let me know what you think of this recipe if you make it! <3