Why not lentils?
I went to college in a small town in Eastern Washington in a region known as the Palouse. The Palouse has insanely fertile soil, great for growing wheat. Wheat however depletes the nitrogen from the soil, so to keep the soil fertile and wonderful, farmers rotate their crops. One year wheat, one year nothing, and one year some sort of nitrogen fixer, like the loveable legume, the lentil. The Palouse is one of the top lentil (and dry pea) producers in the world and home to the National Lentil Festival as well as the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council (who, if you are reading this, needs to hire me! I have a degree in Plant Pathology and an unhealthy obsession with your crop!)
There are so many important nutritional components that can be found in lentils. They are high in fiber, protein, and folate.
Fiber regulates the digestive system and helps make you feel full. High fiber diets are also associated with lower rates of heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Protein is an essential building block for life. Lentils are great sources of protein that are easily inserted into vegetarian or vegan diets, as well as omnivorous menus. Human beings have eight essential amino acids that are required in our diets. Lentils have 7 of the 8! Pair them with something like rice and you have a complete protein, no animal products required. (FYI, I eat a vegetarian diet 99% of the time, so most of the recipes I feature on here will be vegetarian as well. There will be an occasional meaty recipe thrown in though if it sounds too good to pass up!)
No need to worry about getting bored with lentils as there are tons of varieties. I tend to be partial to the standard brown lentil, but have also used green and red. Currently in my pantry, you would find a bag of black “caviar” lentils that are just waiting for the right recipe to come along (any suggestions?).
Lentils make fabulous burgers, are tasty in spaghetti, work great in enchiladas, and can easily stand on their own. Heck, I’ve even tried (and loved!) lentil ice cream.