Red Lentils and Blue Matcha - Power Foods for Elevating Plant Based Meals
When it comes to eating healthy, and stepping it up with your plant based meals, I always encourage people to try to include plenty of colors. Every color has something unique to offer to your plate when it comes to nutrition. Plant foods are literally loaded with thousands of pigment colors known as phytochemicals. These colored pigments are what contribute to many of the unique characteristics of plant foods including their flavors, inert natural plant resistance to disease, and wellness promoting properties for humans.
One such pigment that I feel offers great benefits to our health are the red pigments found in foods like tomatoes, watermelon, and strawberries. Red Lentils, which is a concentrated plant protein, also offers similar red benefits with a smashing punch of lean vegetarian protein. In fact, red lentils are considered a super plant food, being very low in fat, rich in fiber, great source of protein, healthy low glycemic carbs, chalk full of flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, carotenoids, tocopherols, and phytosterols. In other words, this red pulse offers many of the great nutrients and phytochemicals that are well known to prevent against many of the chronic diseases affecting modern society. Risks for heart disease, obesity, cancer and type 2 diabetes are especially reduced by including this pulse in your diet more often. Specifically these guys help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar levels while increasing your body's antioxidant defenses. As far as I'm concerned, it is one of the quintessential superfoods. I like to choose red lentils that are certified organic and meet the European pesticide guidelines (IFOAM) for the most comprehensive pesticide testing. The Inari line of certified organic whole foods is a prime example of a company that follows these criteria and exceeds quality assurance for an exceptional certified organic product.
A great and tasty way to include this food is to pair it with Italian Arborio rice in a risotto type dish. Aroborio rice is an easy to digest, gluten free, wheat free, hypo-allergenic grain staple used throughout Italy for many favorite culinary dishes. The texture of Arborio rice provides a sparkle to your taste buds when you chew it, imparting its very unique and enjoyable taste profile. When you couple it with red lentils and the right herbs, vegetables and spices; the flavor is great while the rice protein profile is complimented just right, for complete quality protein, to meat your nutritional protein needs. For those that are gluten intolerant, or sensitive to wheat; rice is an excellent digestive friendly alternative. Opting for the Arborio variety adds that extra Mediterranean flair to your meals that will surely motivate your continued zest to eat more lentils and reap the wellness benefits now and over the long term. In addition, cooking the rice to an al dente texture, which is the recommended way by most cooks and chefs, will likely improve the glycemic index of the rice which means better for your blood sugar response, sustaining better energy, mental focus and metabolism after you eat this savory starch.
After eating a healthy meal, I love to indulge my senses with a brilliantly colored tea such as some of the blue matchas that are available. One of my favorites is the Blue Matcha London Fog by Two Hills. The ingredients are simple and clean and nothing but plant based. It contains micro milled butterfly pea flowers, bergamot and natural vanilla flavour, is gluten free, vegan, sugar free, soy free, and caffeine free. I add it to steamed milk, and it goes down so tastefully and smoothly. The taste is very smooth and aromatic, light and balanced. An exceptional comfort tea that colors up your plant based lifestyle. Blue tea is known to be a rich source of antioxidant catechins and anthocyanins, with some preliminary studies showing potential benefits for countering stress, supporting metabolism, regulating blood sugars, and enhancing your antioxidant defenses. So this is another super food beverage that you may enjoy after your meals with the value added benefits of being a great tonic for better overall wellness, and it's caffeine free, and considered very safe. With that being said, if you are pregnant, or nursing, or have an underlying health condition, it's always a good idea to consult with your nutritionally oriented doctor before consuming this herbal tea.
So when planning your meals, be sure to try to include more variety of plant food colors. This mantra has been continually advocated by leading nutritionists for decades, and still holds strong today. You see, the more colors in your daily, or even weekly diet, will offer greater variety of nutrition and phytochemical antioxidants for your wellness. The variety of colors will also stimulate your palate in a way that will inspire your continued enjoyment of healthy food for years to come - which will likely equate to a long life of vitality and culinary enjoyment.