With a large family, I often look for ways to save (don’t we all?). One of the ways I save is by eating meat just a few times a week. Rather than make it the main item at dinner or eating it every single dinner, I make casseroles or make meat dishes 3 or 4 times a week. When we cut out meat, though, we are cutting out protein, so I have to find a replacement to ensure we all get the protein we need. I have found raw milk to be an EXCELLENT source of protein, but at $12/gallon I can’t bring myself to have us all drink a glass at every meal!
One of my favorite meat replacements is lentils. They are a legume and an amazing source of protein. They are NOT a complete protein by themselves, as they lack two essential amino acids, but if you pair them with rice they are a complete protein! So easy to do, really.
We use brown lentils usually. They don’t have a strong flavor and are pretty durable when using them with a sauce or simmering them in a dish. We use red lentils in a soup we make. And I have only used green lentils once. No particular reason we don’t eat green lentils more often; I am just used to buying brown.
On our Menu Plan for this week, we have Lentil Burritos. It is a meatless dish using lentils in place of the meat; I did not pair it with rice in this meal because I was short on time, but it would so easy to add rice to these burritos for the complete protein. I explained yesterday about hiding lentils in dishes for any picky eaters. Making burritos with lentils is a great way to mask them!
1 cup dry brown lentils, rinsed
1 can (15 ounce) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
12 ounces water
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp (or more) cumin
salt and pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese
1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in small pot. Add lentils, return to boil, then lower heat to simmer 20-30 minutes or until lentils can be smashed with back of spoon.
2. In large skillet, heat tomato paste and water, stirring to thoroughly combine. Add beans, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer while lentils are cooking.
3. Once lentils are finished, drain any remaining liquid then add lentils to beans and sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
4. Fill tortillas with lentil/bean mixture and top with cheese and other items, if desired. You can fold the tortilla like a burrito, but we tend to overfill ours and just have to roll it like a taco and hold it carefully to keep from pouring out!
In addition to the burritos, we had corn and homemade applesauce.
If you are interested in reading more about lentils, there is some great information HERE.
Does your family eat lentils? If so, what is your favorite way to incorporate them into a meal??