Cancer-battling, gut-friendly, energy-boosting, heart-healthy, and belly-shrinking—lentils are a dietary force to be reckoned with. Not only are the legumes packed with protein and fiber—a macronutrient duo that'll boost your metabolism and banish extra pounds—but they provide at least nine essential vitamins and minerals with less than a gram of fat! (P.S. If you're pregnant, you definitely want to add the superbean to your diet; lentils can provide you with 90 percent of your daily folate quota.)
Even better? They're super versatile (hence the yumminess below) and wicked affordable at just 20 cents per cup. If you're used to just eating lentils in soup, you're about to be in for a pleasant surprise! But speaking of, don't miss our exclusive report on the 36 Best and Worst Canned Soups & Soup Products.
SALSA VERDE LENTIL TACOS WITH MANGO POMEGRANATE PICO
Nutrition: 389 calories, 4.6 g fat (1.2 g saturated), 203 mg sodium, 69 g carbs, 16.3 g carbs, 13.3 g sugar, 15.9 g protein
When it comes to Tuesdays, there is only one thing that should be on your dinner plate. This week, give ground beef (or turkey) a break. These refreshing lentil tacos are covered in salsa verde and a mango pomegranate pico. They're so divine, you might even be tempted to ditch the meat on the reg.
Get the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.
ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH ROMESCO SAUCE
Nutrition: 356 calories, 20 g fat (5.1 g saturated)m 5 mg sodium, 32.2 g fiber, 15.5 g fiber, 2.2 g sugar, 14.1 g protein
If you can get over the smell of your urine, this recipe just might be your answer to how to get rid of bloating. It turns out, the supergreen is actually a natural diuretic—thanks to its asparagine, an amino acid that helps to purge the body of excess salts and increases urination. Bye bye belly pooch.
Get the recipe from Bloglovin'.
SWEET SMOKY BBQ LENTILS
Nutrition: 125 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated), 20 mg sodium, 24.3 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 7.4 g sugar, 6.4 g protein
Just because BBQ grilling season is coming to a close doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite rustic taste. This "stick to your ribs comfort meal" is perfectly served with chips, sandwiched between a bun, or poured over baked potatoes. Football Sunday's menu just got a whole lot easier.
Get the recipe from Veggie Inspired Journey.
VEGGIE LENTIL BURGER
Nutrition: 435 calories, 8.2 g fat (<1 g saturated), 227 mg sodium, 69.8 g carbs, 22.4 g fiber, 15.3 g sugar, 22.7 g protein
Burgers made with lentils, raisins, bread crumbs, and walnuts? Don't knock it before you try it. Word has it, these are the sh*t. And what's a "burger" without its sauce? The homemade mustard sauce adds the perfect combo of sweet and spicy. Pair with healthy chips for a guilt-free American meal.
Get the recipe from Contentedness Cooking.
CINNAMON CHAI BAKED RED LENTIL DOUGHNUTS
Nutrition: 302 calories, 7.4 g fat (6 g saturated), 162 mg sodium, 48.3 g carbs, 15.6 g fiber, 17.1 g sugar, 12.7 g protein
Lentils are definitely not the first ingredient that comes to mind when you think of doughnuts. However, they flawlessly mesh into this recipe, sneaking in 15.6 grams of filling fiber and 12.7 grams of slimming protein. And if you like chai tea, you'll love the ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom flavors. After all, if you're going to indulge, you might as well bite into a limited edition.
Get the recipe from Vegan Miam.
AVOCADO LENTIL SALAD
Nutrition: 174 calories, 7 g fat (1.3 g saturated), 198 mg sodium, 22.1 g carbs, 10.2 g fiber, 4.9 g sugar, 7.2 g protein
Avocados are one of the limited foods that can actually spot reduce stomach fat. And research also crowns the fruit with the ability to banish bloat, ward off hunger and lower blood pressure. Which is why there is no shortage of avocado recipes for weight loss. Looking for some inspiration? This lentil salad is it!
Get the recipe from Give Recipe.
ONE POT SHRIMP JAMBALAYA LENTIL BOWLS
Nutrition: 258 calories, 9.7 g fat (2.5 g saturated), 349 mg sodium, 21.3 g carbs, 10 g fiber, 2.4 g sugar, 21.4 g protein
Jambalaya is a cajun dish straight out of Louisiana. It combines Spanish and French culture, pairing meat, vegetables and rice—and in this case, lentils. Grain-free and wholesome, this tasty dish puts a healthy spin on traditional southern cuisine.
Get the recipe from Cotter Crunch.
LENTIL AND GOAT CHEESE STUFFED SWEET POTATOES
Nutrition: 289 calories, 14 g fat (7.6 g saturated fat), 108 mg sodium, 23.1 g carbs, 11.4 g fiber, 1.6 g sugar, 18.1 g protein (calculated without salt)
You had us at stuffed sweet potatoes and goat cheese. The savory sweet duo is a universal taste bud and waistline pleaser. But if you're looking to slim down, omit the salt. You're salty enough.
Get the recipe from A Couple Cooks.
SOUTHWEST LENTIL BROWN RICE BAKE
Nutrition: 249 calories, 8.8 g fat (5 g saturated), 304 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 8.6 g fiber, 5.9 g sugar, 12 g protein
Casseroles are one of the fastest, cheapest, and smartest ways to get a healthy, belly-flattening meal on the table—and this meatless comfort food is no exception. Not to mention, it's full of energy-boosting whole grains, belly-shrinking lentils, satiating cheddar cheese and nutrient-rich veggies.
Get the recipe from From a Chef's Kitchen.
Nutrition: 358 calories, 12.7 g fat (1.8 g saturated), 19 mg sodium, 43.5 g carbs, 21.9 g fiber, 1.6 g sugar, 19.3 g protein
According to a study published in the journal Obesity, people who ate a single serving of chickpeas each day reported feeling 31 percent fuller than their bean-less counterparts—hello appetite control! Not to mention, the garbanzo beans are a great source of cellulite-diminishing lysine. Get dipping, swirling, spreading, glopping…it all goes. Hitting a plateau with your body goals? Check out these 20 Weight Loss Tricks You Haven't Tried.
Get the recipe from Gluten Free With.
ROASTED GARLIC TOMATO LENTIL SALAD
Nutrition: 193 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 375 mg sodium, 24.2 g carbs, 11.1 g fiber, 3.5 g sugar, 11.3 g protein
Aside from its antioxidant and antifungal properties, garlic contains 23 percent of the RDA for manganese (a mineral essential for bone health), reduces blood pressure, and fights heart disease. P.S. With sniffle season creeping up on us, garlic can reduce the length of cold symptoms by as much as 70 percent according to studies!
Get the recipe from Wendy's Polisi.
SWEET POTATO AND LENTIL SHEPHERD'S PIE
Nutrition: 341 calories, 8.6 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 249 mg sodium, 50.9 g carbs, 15.5 g fiber, 4.1 g sugar, 16.2 g protein
As the evening temperatures drop, our bodies are genetically programmed to crave warm, savory foods. The problem is we no longer live during the caveman era and thus, we don't need to bulk up for the winter. Fortunately, the health foodie God's assembled and created a cozy shepherd's pie that hits the spot, without resulting weight gain and stomach fat.
Get the recipe from The Full Helping.
BARBECUE LENTIL LOAF
Nutrition: 212 calories, 1.7 g fat (0 g saturated), 538 mg sodium, 40.3 g carbs, 10.5 g fiber, 10.7 g sugar, 8.8 g protein
This vegetarian meatloaf uses a homemade BBQ sauce that's void of sleazy ingredients. And it's made with flax seed, a vegan source of protein that lowers blood pressure, stops cancer in its track, moderates cholesterol, promotes a healthy liver and perks you up. In fact, according to a Japanese study, low levels of docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids (found in various foods including fish, walnuts, and flax) are frequently seen in conjunction with depression.
Get the recipe from The Vegan 8.
LENTIL PIZZA CRUST
Nutrition: 273 calories, <1 g fat (0 g saturated), 240 mg sodium, 46.5 g carbs, 23.6 g fiber, 1.6 g sugar, 20 g protein
It's not often (if ever), we stumble across a pizza crust with a whopping 20 grams of muscle-building protein and 23.6 grams of belly-shrinking fiber. And remember we're talking resistant starch
—the kind that fills you up without filling you out by prolonging digestion. Next pizza night, ditch the premade, nutrient void pizza crust and make this one instead!
Get the recipe from Vie De La Vegan.
LENTIL BLACK BEAN CHILI
Nutrition: 272 calories, 1.1 g fat (0 g saturated), 76 mg sodium, 48.4 g carbs, 16.9 g fiber, 3.5 g sugar, 18 g protein
This chili is nutritional rockstar—and it's all about the black beans. One ½ cup serving provides 8 out of the 16.9 grams of waist-whittling protein and 7.5 out of the 18 grams of
fiber. And did we mention the beans contain anthocyanins or antioxidant compounds that improve cognitive function? Yep, you can slim down and slay your afternoon meeting with one powerful bowl.
Get the recipe from Chew Out Loud.
APPLE LENTIL MUFFINS
Nutrition: 257 calories, 6.8 g fat (1 g saturated), 158 mg sodium, 40.1 g carbs, 2.7 g fiber, 13.3 g sugar, 7.3 g protein
All too often muffins lead to muffin-tops—AKA that bulging flab that hangs over the side of your pants—but this is one baked good recipe, we couldn't resist. While we certainly aren't condoning regular muffin consumption, these ones are made with one of the best heart-healthy fats](http://www.eatthis.com/healthy-fats), red lentils, organic yogurt, wheat flour, cinnamon, light brown sugar and wholesome oats. In other words, they're definitely an upgrade from good old Betty Crocker.
Get the recipe from Sift and Whisk.
LENTIL LETTUCE WRAPS
Nutrition: 282 calories, 7.7 g fat (2.8 g saturated), 18 mg sodium, 40.4 g carbs, 18.6 g fiber, 6.5 g sugar, 14.1 g protein
Lettuce wraps are a dieter's God send. They allow you to enjoy all your favorite flavors without the waist-expanding empty calories. While this recipe is not your typical low-cal lettuce wrap—thanks to the rockstar lentil content—it's less than 300 calories and full of satiating fiber and lean muscle-building protein.
Get the recipe from Green Healthy Cooking.
WARM BUTTERNUT SQUASH LENTIL FETA SALAD
Nutrition: 326 calories, 16.2 g fat (3.4 g saturated), 325 mg sodium, 32.2 g carbs, 15.8 g fiber, 2.5 g sugar, 15 g protein
This lentil salad is the perfect way to transition your taste buds into autumn. And just because you get to wear more clothes doesn't mean you kiss goodbye your body goals. Aside from being delicious, butternut squash is full of belly-shrinking fiber and low in calories. In fact, this recipe contains a whopping 15.8 grams of the satiating, gut-friendly stuff. For more gourd inspired cuisine, check out these 20 Healthy Butternut Squash Recipes.
Get the recipe from Farm Girl Gourmet.
BAKED EGGS IN TOMATOES WITH LENTILS AND WHIPPED GOAT CHEESE
Nutrition: 265 calories, 12.7 g fat (5.3 g saturated), 258 mg sodium, 21.2 g carbs, 8.7 g fiber, 4.8 g sugar, 17.4 g protein
In the rush from alarm clock to running out the door, breakfast often becomes an afterthought. If you're one of the guilty offenders, consider this: The National Weight Control Registry, which has collected 20 years of data on dieters who lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for a one-year minimum, found that seventy-eight percent reported daily consumption of breakfast. And even if you do give it thought, eating the same mundane granola bar isn't nourishing your body by any means. This recipe combines protein-packed eggs with fibrous-lentils, satiating goat cheese, folate-boasting spinach and cancer-squashing tomatoes to create the perfect meal to help you sail through your day. And if time is a major concern, whip it up for dinner instead and save the leftovers for the following morning.
Get the recipe from Mid-Life Croissant.
PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP LENTIL BLONDIES
Nutrition: 147 calories, 6.9 g fat (2 g saturated), 199 mg sodium, 17.6 g carbs, 3.2 g fiber, 8.1 g sugar, 5 g protein
Naturally, we've saved the best for last. The hidden ingredient not only moistens these blondies for the perfect bite but adds a nutritional punch to a typically indulgent treat. And if you're a nut butter addict, you'll be completely smitten. We suggest treating yourself to one PWO (post-workout) when your glycogen stores are depleted and your body could use leucine—an amino acid that aids in muscle repair—which peanuts are packed with!
Get the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.