Learning to like lentils…and other such things.

They may not seem like much at first glance, but lentils, dry peas and chickpeas (pulses) are healthy and flavorful.

Not many foods have: potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin, and vitamin K. They are full of fiber, protein, folate and iron. Eating these foods instead of red meat could lower your overall risk of dying from most diseases including cancer and heart disease.

These little nuggets have almost 100% of the daily requirement of folate, which helps the nervous system and metabolism. Not having enough folate could lead to cancer, depression, heart disease and vision or hearing loss.

Still not sure if you want to try them? Pulses can: lower cholesterol, keep your heart healthy, help stabilize blood sugar, increase energy and aid in weight loss.

Pulses do not contain all of the amino acids required to make a complete protein, so eat them with a grain such as rice or whole wheat bread. Slowly add these foods into your diet over a few weeks since they can be difficult to digest. You can also take a digestive aid when you start eating pulses.

Montana is the nation’s number one producer of lentils and field peas and the third largest producer of garbanzo beans. Rotating these crops with grains is good for the soil and has become a farmer’s friend.

Try these recipes; you may just become a fan.


Stuffed Roasted Peppers with Lentils, Beef, & Mushrooms


1 cup dry lentils
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more for heat)
Salt & freshly ground pepper
6 bell peppers, tops removed and scooped out
1 cup cheese
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium pot, add rinsed dry lentils and 3 cups hot water. Simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions, garlic and a pinch of salt and cook for 3-4 minutes until beginning to soften, add mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes until soft. Remove the onion mushroom mix from the skillet and place in a bowl.

Using the same skillet add the ground beef, a pinch of salt and cook until browned. Stir in the red pepper flakes, diced tomatoes with juice and tomato paste. Mix together and cook for 5 minutes. Add the onion mushroom mixture and the cooked lentils. Season with salt and pepper, taste, and adjust seasonings.

Place bell peppers in a large baking dish. Scoop the filling into the bell peppers until full. Place in the oven and roast for 25 minutes. Remove the peppers from the oven and top with cheese and fresh cilantro.

Recipe developed by Ashley Marti, Local Haven.


Italian Split Pea Soup


1 1/2 cups USA yellow or green split peas, rinsed
1/2 cup dry navy beans
3 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, sliced
1 cup zucchini, cubed
2 cups cabbage, coarsely chopped
1 cup turnip, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
4 oz. uncooked radiatore, or other dry pasta
8 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese


Soak beans only in 3 1/2 cups water overnight. Add 8 1/4 cups more water. Add peas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 45 minutes or until peas and beans are tender. Add remaining ingredients except pasta and cheese. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add pasta and cook an additional 8 to 10 minutes until pasta is tender. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.


Peanut Butter Chickpea Energy Balls

Yields: 24 to 28 balls

1.5 cups chickpeas, cooked
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter, smooth
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup ground oat flour
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips


First place chickpeas, peanut butter, and honey in a food processor and blend for about a minute on high or until the mixture is smooth.

Then, add in cinnamon, vanilla extract, salt, and oat flour, and pulse until combined. At this point your dough should be similar to cookie dough consistency. If things are too dry, add more peanut butter, if things are too wet, add more ground oat flour.

Add in chocolate chips and pulse until combined.

Finally, using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop out a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between your palms to form a ball. Repeat. Store in the fridge or freezer!

Recipe developed by Fit Foodie Finds