Editor’s note: Every other week in this space during 2020, you’ll find recipes and tips from St. Luke’s chefs and dietitians to help you cook healthier at home.
Chef Brandon Gunsaules loves that his job as St. Luke’s Nampa food service operations manager gives him more opportunities to be creative in the kitchen than his previous roles at corporate restaurants.
“I definitely feel that I’m encouraged to try new things here more than at any other previous employer,” Gunsaules said.
For Gunsaules, one of those new things has been doing more menu planning with plant-based proteins – such as lentils.
High in protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates and many nutrients, the lentil is considered a nutrition powerhouse. (Fun fact: Pulses – as lentils, chickpeas, dry peas and beans are more formally known – are one of the few foods to be categorized as both a vegetable and a protein by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USAPulses.org, by the way, is a great resource for people looking to add more plant-based protein and fiber to their home-cooking repertoires.)
With his take on the lentil patty, Gunsaules isn’t trying to mimic the traditional burger. This flavorful patty can stand all on its own.
“This is an alternative to meat that doesn’t try to look like meat,” Gunsaules said. “You can see all the delicious veggies that you put into this.”
Plus, you can adapt the recipe by using your own favorite vegetables.
“Instead of broccoli and carrots, you can put in whatever veggies you have on hand or are craving,” Gunsaules said. Try cauliflower and peas, for instance.
Adding more plant-based proteins like lentils to your diet can provide significant health benefits.
“We know that red meat consumption can increase inflammation in the body for many reasons,” said St. Luke’s Meridian Clinical Outpatient Dietitian Linda J. Kees, RDN, CNSC. “This recipe provides a healthier option for a grilled ‘burger’ because it contains plant-based protein, veggies and fiber.
“For even more fiber, add a 100 percent whole-wheat bun and serve with a green salad,” Kees said. “Use healthy toppers like avocado, tomato, onion and lettuce. Spice it up by adding BBQ sauce, sriracha, salsa, jalapenos or spicy mustard.”
If you are interested in learning more about plant-based eating, consider enrolling in the Complete Health Improvement Program at St. Luke’s. Learn more about CHIP here.
Makes six 4.5-ounce patties
1 cup lentils
1¾ cups vegetable stock
4 cups broccoli florets
1 cup grated carrots
1 tablespoon chia seeds and 1 tablespoon of flax seed, ground. (Soak these two ingredients together in 3 ounces of hot water for about three to five minutes and stir to combine and prevent clumps; after about three minutes you will see the mixture thicken.)
1 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
½ tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Nutritional information per serving: 121 calories, 3 grams fat, 278 mgs sodium, 8 grams protein
Holly M. Anderson works in the Communications and Marketing department at St. Luke's.