Whole foods and other things for optimal living.

Whole foods and other things for optimal living.

Sweet Lentil Porridge

"Sweet lentil porridge!"

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...may sound like an exclamatory phrase your grandmother or Paula Dean would use.

In this case, however, the phrase is to be taken very literally, but don't let that scare you away. Sweet Lentil Porridge could be the next new staple item in your kitchen! Think of the first time someone invented oatmeal: roll some oat groats, steam them, then boil them in water until they are at maximum sogginess. You can make anything sound weird and gross if you try hard enough. So try to keep an open mind.

Take the ever-so-popular quinoa. Still fairly new to the mainstream, it's already starting to lose its savory stigma. People have realized its mild, absorbent character serves as a perfect blank canvas for a variety of flavors. 

Lentils aren't much different. 

I got the idea this morning after I was craving oatmeal and realized I was out of oats. I am known to get pretty creative when I'm too lazy to go to the store (to a fault, some might say), so I scoured the kitchen for an alternative. I had a little bit of quinoa, some millet, buckwheat, barely and...[sweet lentil porridge!] some of the new red lentils from Trader Joe's. This particular brand cooks extremely fast and is hard to cook without getting mushy. Sounds like porridge to me! I then proceeded to combine my oatmeal skills (hey, I eat a lot of oatmeal) with my newly found TJ's red lentil-cooking skills and got to work. 

The cool thing about this porridge vs. most grain porridge is that its got:
  - a few less carbs
  - a bit more fiber
  - almost double the protein

As a vegetarian, it's always nice to sneak some protein in my diet whenever possible. Especially when I'm craving something sweet for breakfast. 

I am happy to report the lentils remained soft and hearty in texture while absorbing all of the delicious, naturally sweet flavors I added to the pot. Success was had by all (me) and a new staple in my kitchen was born. 

I give you...

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Sweet Lentil Porridge
1 banana, mashed
1 cup red lentils (I'm sure any lentil would work)
1 cup milk (I used homemade almond)
1 1/4 cup water (for a richer porridge, milk may be used instead)
raisins or any dried fruit
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon/toppings to taste
sweetener to taste (the banana is where you get most of the sweetness)

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Directions:

1. Combine banana, lentils, milk, water and dried fruit in a medium sauce pan. It's good to add the dried fruit early as it becomes rehydrated and plumps up in the cooking process. 

2. Bring to a boil, all the while stirring. 

3. Reduce to a simmer and cook for as long as your lentil package directions advise, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir often. Mine took about 10 minutes to cook. Your package will probably say to leave the pot covered for this duration, but DO NOT do this. There are fats and sugars in your liquid and they will burn if left unattended (I am reminded of my own dreadful quinoa porridge incident earlier this year). 

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4. Remove from heat, add vanilla and additional sweeteners/spice, and let sit for a couple minutes. 

Serves about 4 fairly small portions.

There you have it. I think next I may try my hand at a <em>savory</em> oatmeal...