Confession — I can’t make rice.
I can cook you Beef Bourguignon, great scones, posole, and even stellar Chinese food (thanks Grace Young!) — but rice? Nope. Maybe that’s because I have a rice cooker? If I didn’t I would have figured it out by now…right? Maybe. I’m doubtful. Maybe my stovetop rice isn’t that bad – it’s imperfections are probably within the realm of normal. But after years of every-grain-perfect-every-time…well, you lose perspective.
So, yes, I have a rice cooker and use it often. However, I use it 3 times as often now that I’ve discovered I can use it to make lentils. Another confession — I don’t know how to make lentils. Except in the rice cooker. The world is indeed a topsy turvy place — but if you find a hack why learn it the long way round?
Quite simply — you can cook lentils in your rice cooker! Or…I should say I cook lentils in my rice cooker and highly recommend that you give it a try.
Each machine is different and God knows they don’t make my last-century model any longer. But I say give it a go! It costs pennies. (Unless it somehow messes up your rice cooker. In which case…I’m sorry!) Brilliant and simple. Takes time, but no effort.
I use a little 2-person Panasonic rice cooker. 1/2 cup lentils to 1.5 cups water. I set it for “quick” (which never seems very fast, even with rice), and it takes 1 hour 10 mins to cook. Sooooo…like I said, not the speediest way — but entirely hands off. And if your cooker has a “warm” function you could put them in to cook anytime that is convenient and then come to collect them anytime later. Divine!
Super easy, super cheap!
“Green” lentils cost just 95 cents a pound (they look brown-ish (like in this photo once cooked). Yellow lentils go for $1.18 per pound, and red lentils cost $1.65/lb in bulk at our local health food store. 1/2 cup green lentils = 3.75 oz. So that costs just…uhhh…carry the 2…just under 22 cents! WHAT?! That’s ridiculous. Wow.
That 22 cents worth of lentils lasts me a few days of hearty lunch salads. Sheesh – I gotta eat more lentils. What costs less than that? I had no idea about exactly how cheap it was til just now!
I was just trying to find a way to use up an old bag of lentils I found down in my pantry (did I buy them for soup once upon a time?)…and here I stumble upon the world’s best salad filler, anything-filler for cheap! Apparently they are really good for you too! Full of fiber, protein, folic acid, magnesium, and more…MindBodyGreen did a nice little synopsis of lentil health benefits. That certainly explains why I’ve been feeling so fabulous lately. Here I thought I was just being cheap and shopping my pantry!
What to do with all those lentils…
My lentil consumption has gone through the roof since I started eating salad every day for lunch. I was intrigued and inspired by this recipe for Rainbow Chicken Salad with Almond Honey Mustard Dressing a friend posted on facebook a month or so ago, via Pinch of Yum. The dressing uses almond butter — um, yum. I switch out the olive oil for avocado oil, and use soy sauce instead of salt. It is killer — I’m addicted.
So for the past few weeks I’ve been eating salad for lunch every day – somehow I never get tired of the taste of this dressing. And it is so filling and healthful, it just makes me feel like a million bucks and tummy-happy. I make my version with a bed of kale or spinach, slivered almonds, dried plump cranberries, sometimes sunflower seeds, sometimes tofu, 1 or 2 6.5 minute eggs, probably 1/3 cup of lentils, and cubed roasted beets. Oh, I am making me hungry! I drown it all in this creamy nutrition-packed dressing – the dressing and the juice from the roasted beets get together and take it to a whole ‘nother level.
Did you already know all this? Wahelll…what other secrets are you holding out on us? Sheesh! Share your best budget and health con hack in the comments below!