Easy Lentils

IMG_6246I’ve had lentils sitting in my pantry for a long time. Last week, I need a quick, easy and nutritious meal to take to work with me so I decided to give them a try. Lentils are a great source of protein- about 30% of their calories come from protein which makes them the third highest legume in protein content. Adding some fresh veggies is the perfect way to get a well-rounded meal that keeps in the fridge for a few days!

I had some vegetable broth left over from making the WW Asian-Inspired soup a while back that I was able to pull out of the freezer and use instead of water while cooking the lentils. This is also a great way to use up extra veggies you have in the fridge!

Ingredients

1 cup dried lentils

2 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove, or other seasonings (optional)

1/4 – 3/4 teaspoon salt

Vegetables, chopped (I used asparagus and red bell peppers so there would be a few different colors)

Directions

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Measure the lentils into a strainer or colander. Pick over and remove any shriveled lentils, debris, or rocks. Thoroughly rinse under running water

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Transfer the rinsed lentils to a saucepan and pour in the vegetable or chicken stock. When I am making a dish with a vegetarian protein, I like to keep it all vegetarian. If you want another layer of flavor, use a chicken stock. Add any seasonings being used, reserving the salt

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Bring the water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. You should only see a few small bubbles and some slight movement in the lentils. Do not stir- this will make them turn to mush! Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy

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Strain the lentils over a bowl so you can use the reserved stock to cook any vegetables you may want to add. Remove any seasonings. Add the stock back into the saucepan and bring back to a boil

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Boil the asparagus in the vegetable stock for 8-10 minutes (or until it is at your desired tenderness- I like mine a little crunchy). Strain the asparagus and add cooked lentils, asparagus and raw chopped bell pepper back into the pot to combine

WW Points: 6 points for half the recipe

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Weight Watchers Quick “Vegetarian” Chili

I have made this chili a few times before and its so easy and delicious. I used to pass a Trader Joe’s walking home from work so I would just pop in, grab the ingredients and it was ready within 30 minutes of walking in the door. I have tweaked it a bit to fit my taste and I have added turkey to make it a little more filling. It does add a few points (if you stick with the 1 1/4 cup serving) but I have found that I don’t eat as big of a portion when the turkey is added in.

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WW Vegetarian Chili*

1 tsp canola oil

1 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced

14 1/2 oz stewed tomato(es)

15 oz canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained

15 1/4 oz canned yellow corn, drained

15 oz canned tomato sauce

1 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup(s) dehydrated onion flakes

1/4 tsp black pepper

 Instructions

Heat oil in a large, nonstick, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans, corn, tomato sauce, chili powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, onion and pepper; stir well.

Increase heat to high and bring chili to a boil; cook, stirring frequently, until chili is thick and flavors are concentrated, about 5 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls and sprinkle with cheese. Yields about 1 1/4 cups chili and 1 tablespoon cheese per serving.

Notes

Use a heavy pot or the chili can burn easily. If it starts to stick to the pan, reduce the heat and stir constantly.

*I made a few changes. First, I added in about a pound of ground turkey. I used the Trader Joe’s pre-cut mirepoix (onions, carrots and celery) instead of garlic, olive oil instead of canola and I omitted the onion flakes and the oregano. I also added in cayenne (I love heat) and I added in black beans.

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First I added the mirepoix to the oil

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Once the mirepoix had cooked down a little (about 4-5 minutes), I added in the turkey. This is when I added most of my seasoning (cayenne, chili flakes, salt, pepper and some garlic powder)

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While the turkey was browning, I emptied the black beans, kidney beans and corn into a colander and rinsed them (this is important because it helps remove unneeded starch from the beans and corn)

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Once the turkey has browned on one side, break it up with your wooden spoon and mix in the mirepoix

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Add in the stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir to incorporate

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Add in the beans and corn and stir

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Bring to a boil and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes until the chili thickens

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(this is while it’s boiling)

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ALL DONE!

WW Points for WW version (no meat) : 8 points per 1 1/4 cup serving

WW Points for my version: 7 points per 1 cup serving

The best part about this recipe? All the ingredients (minus spices and oil) cost around $12 at Trader Joe’s. Thats only $2.40 per serving! YAY for cheap, filling and delicious recipes!