Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart! We’ll stop there. Many people get hung up on the continuation and because of the unpleasant side effects of beans, don’t regularly consume legumes. Legumes, however, really are good for your heart! High in protein, fiber, and vitamins, and low in fat, they are an important part of a heart-healthy diet. For those who aren’t frequent bean-eaters, red lentils are a good place to start. They are quicker and easier to cook than many beans, have a mild flavor, and may help lower cholesterol.
I grew up in a vegetarian home, eating brown rice top with cooked lentils on a regular basis. Here in the Middle East, a popular dish is mujadra, which mixes the rice and lentils together. It can be served as a flavorful side dish or, since the legumes and whole grain form a complete protein, as a filling, vegan and gluten free main dish. I made today’s mujadra with red lentils, as opposed to brown or green lentils, because my children are more likely to take to the milder flavor. I garnished the dish with sweet, juicy pomegranate arils because they are another heart-friendly food. And because they are pretty.
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Red Lentil Mujadra Recipe
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded or diced
1 cup brown rice
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 bay leaf
pomegranate seeds (optional, for garnish)
- Heat olive oil in a medium pot. Sautee onion for 2-3 minutes.
- Add carrots, rice, and spices. Sautee for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a half hour.
- Add red lentils and one more cup of water. Mix well. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf before serving. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.