Why Canadians Should Have Lentils in Their Pantries

Want to try the ultimate budget-friendly food? Food Network Canada star Michael Smith explains why lentils are so great

Canada is the world’s leading exporter of lentils, with Saskatchewan growing 97 percent of total Canadian production. While we enjoy dried or canned lentils year-round, they are harvested in late summer after they’ve ripened in their pods and dried naturally.

Chef Michael Smith, an award-winning cookbook author and host of several TV shows on the Food Network Canada, is an advocate for simplicity and sustainability in food and cooking. So, he’s a big fan of these versatile, economical and convenient legumes. We met up with him recently in Saskatoon, and we delved into dishes made with locally grown lentils—a member of the pulse family—and discussed healthy eating.

“Balance is one of life’s great challenges,” says Smith, “In my case, it’s about staying grounded,” He lives in rural P.E.I. calls himself an active, outdoorsy guy. As passionate as he is about work, a huge priority is family time. They regularly incorporate lentils into their meals. ‘They are so easy to throw into a pot,” he says. “With two minutes’ effort, you’ve got something simmering and ready to eat in about 30 minutes.”

Lentils pack benefits including fibre, protein and iron. Having a pantry with one or two varieties—green, red, black Beluga or French Green “Du Puy”—means a myriad of recipe ideas are a “pulse” away. Lentils work in everything from breakfast to baked goods. Our favourite way to eat them? In a squash salad.

This article was originally titled “Loving lentils with chef Michael Smith” in the September 2013 issue of Best Health. 

Originally Published in Best Health Canada