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  • Archive for the ‘lentils’ Category

    Q&A Roundup #4

    Time to answer some questions I’ve received via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail over the past few weeks.

    Enjoy — and keep the queries coming!

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    Recipe: Sweet & Spicy Harvest Chili

    Chili is one of my favorite fall and wintertime foods.  Several years ago I posted one of my favorite chili recipes made with traditional ingredients like corn, peppers, and a variety of beans (that recipe, by the way, goes great over a bed of brown rice or quinoa).

    This time around, I want to share a much less conventional variety that contains a variety of vegetables and spices (cocoa powder, anyone?).  If your digestive system is particularly sensitive to beans, then this recipe is for you, since lentils are the stars (unlike beans, lentils do not contain sulfur — AKA: no unpleasant side effects).

    This recipe is very high in fiber, so if you are not accustomed to large amounts, you may want to start out having a a smaller serving of this as a side dish.

    PS: I have been camera-less for the past week, but next time I make this recipe, I will upload a photo of the finished product.  Enjoy!

    Continue Reading »

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    Quick & Healthy Recipe: Spiced Lentil & Quinoa Bowl with Avocado Dressing

    lentejas_-lensculirnarisI consider this a perfect year-round dish.

    In the cold winter months, the warm lentils and quinoa, along with the spices, make for a comforting dish.

    Once summer hits, I love this as a cold salad!

    This is also one of those meals that keeps you full for a very long time, as it combines heart-healthy fats, soluble fiber, and protein.

    Don’t be let the long steps fool you; this is a very simple recipe.  The lentils and dressing can both be prepared while the quinoa cooks.

    By the way, if you don’t have a food processor (or don’t feel like taking it out, using it, and cleaning it), you can always replace the dressing with some fresh avocado slices.  Even if you don’t have avocados handy, the lentil and quinoa combination in itself is delicious!

    YIELDS: 4 servings (1 cup quinoa + 1 cup lentils + 2 TBSP dressing)

    INGREDIENTS (Quinoa):

    2 cups quinoa
    4 cups water
    Pinch of salt

    INGREDIENTS (Spiced Lentils):

    2 TBSP olive oil
    1 cup onions, chopped
    1/2 cup carrots, shredded
    1/2 cup red pepper, diced
    1/4 cup green pepper, diced
    1 cup mushrooms, chopped
    2 T garlic, minced
    1/2 t cumin
    1/4 t cinnamon
    1/2 t curry powder
    1/3 t salt
    1/4 t paprika
    1/8 t black pepper
    1 cup dried lentils, rinsed (any color; if you can find sprouted dried lentils, even better!)
    3 cups water
    1 Tablespoon lemon juice

    INGREDIENTS (Avocado Dressing):

    1 large avocado, pitted
    2 t lime juice
    1 garlic clove
    2 t ginger
    1/4 t salt
    1/4 c water

    INSTRUCTIONS (Quinoa):

    In a small pot, combine quinoa, water, and a pinch of salt.

    Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer until all water evaporates.

    Fluff quinoa with fork.

    INSTRUCTIONS (Spiced Lentils):

    In a large pot, heat olive oil.  Once sufficiently hot, add onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, and garlic.

    Stir frequently over the course of 2 minutes over medium-high heat.

    Add spices.  Stir frequently for 2 more minutes.

    Add lentils and water, stir and bring to a boil.

    Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring two or three times.

    Turn off stovetop, uncover, add lemon juice, and stir one more time.

    INSTRUCTIONS (Avocado dressing):

    Combine all ingredients in food processor and process until evenly combined.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    538 calories
    2.5 grams saturated fat
    450 milligrams sodium
    15 grams fiber
    18 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: Folate, manganese, monounsaturated fats, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K

    Good Source of: Iron, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    891318One cup of cooked Swiss chard contains as much potassium as two medium bananas.

    FYI: The United States Department of Agriculture classifies medium bananas as those measuring anywhere from 7 to 8 inches.

    Score another point for dark, leafy green vegetables.

    Remember — they already get kudos for being good sources of calcium and vitamin K — two crucial nutrients for bone health.

    While most people equate potassium with bananas (and that’s not too off-the-mark; bananas are a good source of that mineral), other foods provide higher amounts.

    A medium banana contains approximately 420 milligrams of potassium (roughly ten percent of the daily requirement).  One cup of cooked Swiss chard, meanwhile, contributes 961 milligrams (slightly over a quarter of a day’s worth!).

    Take a look at these other potassium-rich foods that are often forgotten:

    • Spinach (1 cup, cooked): 835 milligrams
    • Lentils (1 cup, cooked): 731 milligrams
    • Edamame (1 cup): 676 milligrams
    • Nutritional yeast (3 Tablespoons): 640 milligrams
    • Baked potato (medium, with skin): 610 milligrams
    • Halibut (3 ounces, cooked): 490 milligrams

    A good list to keep in mind, particularly since the majority of adults in the United States do not meet daily potassium requirements.

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    Quick & Healthy Recipes: Lentil Paté

    Red Lentils 002Due to their stellar nutrition profile, hearty texture, and unique flavor, I am a die-hard fan of lentils.

    Though they are often prominent in soups and casseroles, they also go well as a dip for crudité or heart whole grain crackers.

    This lentil paté is especially wonderful served warm in the winter months.

    YIELDS: 8 servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
    2 medium garlic cloves, diced
    1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
    1/3 cup red pepper, chopped
    1 cup dry lentils, rinsed (I think red lentils look nicer for dips, but feel free to use brown)
    1 1/2 cups water
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon paprika
    3/4 teaspoon cumin
    Pepper, to taste
    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic, carrot, and red pepper.

    Cook the vegetables until soft, stirring frequently.

    Add lentils and water.  Bring contents to a boil.

    Lower heat to a low simmer and cook until no more water remains in pot.

    Add salt and spices.  Stir until well-combined and cook, still over simmer, for two minutes.

    Pour contents into food processor, add lemon juice, and puree until smooth.

    Feel free to add more spices after pureeing, if you deem it necessary.

    NUTRITION INFORMATION (per serving):

    123 calories
    0.8 grams saturated fat
    150 milligrams sodium
    8 grams fiber
    6 grams protein

    Excellent Source of: B vitamins, copper, magnesium, manganese, monounsaturated fats, pantothenic acid, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C

    Good Source of: Iron, phosphorus, zinc

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    You Ask, I Answer: Choline

    1B7796CD98BAE223AFF6643CFAF1A7What is choline?  Why is it good for us and which foods contain it?

    – @Monica_San Diego, @noelty5
    Via Twitter

    I received these tweets soon after I tweeted that 90 percent of adults in the United States do not get sufficient amounts of choline in their diets.

    Choline is an essential nutrient (‘essential’ meaning we must get it from food) that is often referred to as a “vitamin-like organic substance” that has a lot in common with the B vitamins (it is not, however, an out-and-out B vitamin).

    Choline has a number of important functions, including:

    • Proper functioning of neurotransmitters
    • Overall liver and gallbladder health
    • Fetal neural and spinal development
    • Cell permeability (allowing cells to absorb fats adequately and excrete necessary metabolites)
    • Phospholipid synthesis (necessary for cellular structure)
    • Cardiovascular health (choline helps lower homocysteine levels; high homocysteine levels are a significant risk factor for heart disease)

    As far as food sources go, these are your best bets:

    • Beef
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Egg yolk
    • Lentils
    • Salmon
    • Shrimp
    • Soy beans
    • Peanuts
    • Wheat germ
    • Salmon

    Men should aim for 550 milligrams a day. Women, meanwhile, need to shoot for 425.

    Multiple research studies have concluded that consistent, long-term deficiencies increase one’s risk of developing fatty liver, liver cancer, and heart disease.

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    A half cup of kidney beans contains 5 times more soluble fiber than a half cup of lentils.

    (REMEMBER: Soluble fiber is helpful for achieving a feeling of fullness more quickly, while insoluble fiber helps speed up the transit of food in the digestive system).

    A half cup of kidney beans provides 5.7 grams of fiber, of which 2.9 grams are soluble.

    That same amount of lentils, meanwhile, offers a total of 7.8 grams of fiber, of which 0.6 grams are soluble.

    Don’t cast lentils aside, though. A mere half cup of them packs 7.2 grams of insoluble fiber — significantly higher than kidney beans’ 2.8 grams.

    Although both types of fiber are beneficial and part of a healthy diet, it’s wise to become familiar with foods that are good sources of each one.

    Therefore, if you’re looking to fill yourself up more quickly with fewer calories, add kidney beans — rather than lentils — to salads, wraps, and chili recipes.

    When you want to speed up movement in your digestive system, though, you are certainly better off with lentil-based dishes.

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    Numbers Game: Legume Lowdown

    A half cup of kidney beans contains ____ times more soluble fiber than a half cup of lentils.

    (REMEMBER: Soluble fiber is helpful for achieving a feeling of fullness more quickly, while insoluble fiber helps speed up the transit of food in the digestive system)

    a) 2.5
    b) 3

    c) 4
    d) 5

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Sunday for the answer!

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    I’m back!

    As much as I love this blog, there are times of the year when a full-time job and three evening classes take up the bulk of my time and energy — especially the last two weeks of the semester, when finals and papers abound.

    Thanks to all of you for your patience and encouraging e-mails during this mini hiatus!

    Alright, so let’s reveal some numbers on lentils.

    A half cup of cooked lentils (115 calories) contains 8 grams of fiber and 24 percent of the daily manganese requirement.

    Lentils are undoubtedly a stealth food for anyone not meeting fiber recommendations.

    All it takes is half a cup to get a third of a day’s needs!

    Last October, Oxygen Magazine published a vegetarian meal plan I concocted, which included this delicious lentil salad recipe:

    Preparation time: 45 minutes (don’t worry, most of that time is spent simmering lentils. A great time to catch up on with your Tivo)

    Yield: Four 1/2 cup servings

    INGREDIENTS:

    2 cups dried lentils
    1 cup carrots, chopped

    1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

    5 garlic cloves, minced

    Chopped cilantro, to taste

    Salt, to taste

    Pepper, to taste

    INSTRUCTIONS:

    1. Rinse dried lentils in water.
    2. Put lentils into a large pot with 9 cups of water. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender.

    3. In a large bowl, mix lentils with carrots and olive oil. Mix with minced garlic cloves, cilantro, salt, and pepper.

    NUTRITION FACTS (per serving):

    188 calories
    7g fat

    1g saturated fat

    0g trans fat

    0g cholesterol

    24 mg sodium

    9g fiber

    9g protein

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    Numbers Game: Lentil Love

    A half cup of cooked lentils (115 calories) contains ______ grams of fiber and ______ of the daily manganese requirement.

    a) 4, 18
    b) 5, 20
    c) 8, 24
    d) 7, 31

    Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Wednesday for the answer (and an easy lentil salad recipe)!

    Share

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