LENTIL SLOPPY JOE LETTUCE WRAPS

Spring is officially here!  We made it through another winter, which means warmer days are ahead, thank goodness!

This week’s recipe was inspired by a trip down memory lane.  One of my favorite meals growing up was Sloppy Joe’s… Manwich anyone?  As a kid there was nothing better than a meal whose name gave you full permission to get messy!

The star protein in this recipe are red lentils, which have amazing anti-aging benefits.  Dr. Oz even touted these little gems as one of the Best Anti-Aging Superfoods!

Let’s start with the folate. Lentils contain more of this important B vitamin than any other unfortified plant food. In addition to protecting against coronary artery disease by lowering levels of homocysteine in the blood, folate helps prevent birth defects. And folate coupled with vitamin B6 (also plentiful in lentils) may help reduce women’s risk of developing breast cancer.

When it comes to fiber, a mere half cup of lentils provides around a third of your daily requirements. Thanks to this fiber, your body absorbs the energy from lentils slowly, which helps keep blood-sugar levels even. About a quarter of lentil’s fiber is soluble, which helps lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and keeping your digestive system running smoothly.

Lentils also deliver an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron — especially when paired with a food containing vitamin C, such as citrus fruits or peppers. And like other legumes, lentils are a significant (and virtually fat-free) source of protein.  I had a conversation last night with someone about iron and how a vegan diet can oftentimes lead to iron deficiency.  Contrary to popular opinion, iron is very easy to obtain from plants, and red lentils are just one of many great examples!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 large iceburg lettuce leaves

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepot with lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently.
  2. Add garlic, shallot and tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients, except lettuce. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove bay leaf.
  5. Serve lentils wrapped in lettuce leaves.
EntreesAlicia Uhl