Nutrition Month 2015 – Cooking with lentils event

dietitians cooking lentils

Every year, Canadian Lentils organizes a hands-on cooking demonstration for dietitians across Canada to kick off nutrition month. This year, the Toronto event took place at Cirillo’s Culinary Academy – a beautifully design cooking studio that offers six different cooking stations for cooking events.

The event was hosted by Gloria Tsang, Vancouver-based dietitian, founder of and author of Go UnDiet and chef Christine Farkas from Canadian Lentils. The event started with a 1 hour demonstration where chef Christine showed us the following three recipes that incorporated lentils:

turkey and lentil bolognese recipe

Who would have thought to add lentils to these kinds of recipes? After the demo, we all formed teams and rotated to the different stations to make the recipes ourselves.

I love attending this event each year because it exposes me to different ways to cook with lentils and makes me think out of the box. When I think of “cooking with lentils” I automatically think of curries and lentil soup (as well as other Indian and ethnic recipes that I would most likely never attempt). But this event showed me how to incorporate lentils into recipes that I’m already familiar with (such as spaghetti sauce and frittatas) which makes it a whole lot easier.

cooking with lentils workshop
Clockwise starting from top left: Chef and dietitian demonstrating the recipes; lentil frittata; participants learning the recipes; lentil fudge

I have always wanted to try to cook more with lentils (they are more economical and leaner protein source than meat and are a great way to add bulk, fibre and protein) and now I have several ideas in mind including lentil chili, hummus and lasagna.

I also enjoy the event because it’s always great to see my fellow foodie dietitian colleagues (it’s too rare that we see each other).

group of culinary dietitians

All in all I had a wonderful time. Gloria Tsang and chef Christine did a great job of leading the event and I took away some valuable tips and insight when it comes to cooking with lentils.

Here are some ideas to help you cook with lentils:

  • Puree into a smooth paste and incorporated into denser dessert batters. I’ve seen brownies, fudge and puddings all made with lentils.
  • Lentil are a protein source that can add a chunky texture making it a good addition to things like spaghetti sauce, stews, chili and even soups. Try swapping out half of the meat for lentils instead.
  • Keep a can of lentils in the pantry as a starting point. There are already cooked and can be easily incorporated into dishes you are familiar with. Once you get used to using lentils, you can try using dry lentils (they are cheaper, keep for a long time and are easy to store).
  • Unlike beans, dried lentil don’t need to be soaked over night. Simply rinse and boil for 15 to 25 minutes depending on the type of lentils you are cooking (red split lentils take 15 minutes, black beluga lentils and green lentils take a bit longer – 25 minutes).

A large collection of recipes using lentils can be found on the Canadian Lentils website.

What about you? What ways do you think you can incorporate lentils into your favourite recipes?

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