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When I first bought my rice cooker, it was with the sole intention of using it to cook rice. After all, it is called a rice cooker, right? But it did not take me too long before I discovered that it is actually so much more than just a rice cooker.
I started asking myself all sorts of questions, such as ‘Can you cook lentils in a rice cooker?’ And, ‘What else can I cook in my rice cooker?’ I soon realized that it was good for a whole lot more than merely cooking rice.
A rice cooker is a multi-purpose gadget that has pride of place on my kitchen counter. Yes, I keep it out on the counter, rather than stashed away in a cabinet somewhere, because I use it so often.
I love experimenting with my rice cooker. Once I realized how amazing it is for cooking rice, I was very curious to see what else I could do with it. I started to play around with my favorite foods and tried and tested recipes, interested to learn if they could be made using a rice cooker.
Once I had started this journey of discovery, there was no stopping me. Through a lot of trial and error, I began creating a whole lot of new recipes, all using my trusty rice cooker instead of pots and pans on the stove.
It was quite early on in this journey of discovery that I answered my own question of ‘Can you cook lentils in a rice cooker?’ Not only is the answer a definite, ‘Yes, you can!’, but it cooks them so beautifully that I wish I had learned this trick many years ago.
Using a rice cooker, not only to cook your lentils but for so many other dishes as well, has many benefits. Later on, in this article, I will share with you some of the benefits of using a rice cooker. But for now, let’s talk about lentils.
What Food Group Do Lentils Belong To?
You have no doubt heard the expression two peas in a pod. Well, you could also say two lentils in a pod, though I suppose that does not really have the same ring to it. Lentils grow in pods, like peas and beans.
These sorts of foods are known as legumes. They belong to the family of plants called Leguminosae. Sometimes also called pulses, these are all seeds that can be eaten. Some need to be cooked, but others can be eaten raw.
There are many different types of legumes, including peas, beans, chickpeas, and a few other lesser-known varieties. Even peanuts are legumes, because, like all other legumes, they grow in pods.
Lentils, like most other legumes, are a high source of protein. For this reason, they are a popular food choice for vegetarians and vegans. They are often eaten as a source of protein in place of meat or fish.
Are Lentils Healthy For You?
Lentils are an extremely healthy and wise food choice, for many reasons, the main ones being:
- Packed with protein
Lentils are filled with protein. Protein is an essential element in our diet and should be included in our daily food plan. We need protein to help build bones and maintain a healthy skeletal system.
Protein is necessary for maintaining muscle strength and healthy skin. It also contributes to preventing obesity, as it helps you to feel full for longer, thus preventing you from overeating.
- Full of fiber
Like protein, fiber helps you to feel full for longer. It is an important part of our daily food intake because it helps to keep cholesterol levels in check. It assists with breaking down sugars, offering some protection against diabetes.
Ingesting a daily dose of fiber helps to keep the digestive system functioning effectively, preventing constipation and its associated discomfort. By maintaining a healthy digestive tract, fiber can help to protect against colon cancer.
- Contains iron
Iron is vital for healthy red blood cells. We need iron to promote the production of hemoglobin in the blood. This is how oxygen is carried through our bodies. An iron deficiency will lead to anemia, leaving you feeling fatigued and breathless.
- Not expensive
While possibly not directly a health benefit per se, the fact that lentils are relatively cheap makes them highly beneficial, as they are an affordable source of many essential elements.
People who may not be able to afford to eat meat or fish daily can perhaps use lentils as a healthy substitute for these foods, and still, get the nutritional benefits that their bodies need.
Can Lentils Be Bad For You?
As with most things in our diet, moderation is the key to a healthy intake of lentils. A daily portion of lentils will not do any harm and has many health benefits. However, they should not be eaten in excess, or become the only thing that you eat.
If you eat lentils for breakfast, lunch, and supper every day, while the lentils themselves might not hurt you, they will fill you up and make you not want to eat anything else. By excluding other essential food groups from your diet, you may develop certain deficiencies in your diet.
Lentils should not be eaten raw. Quite apart from the fact that they would taste awful and be most unappetizing, they would be difficult to digest.
Raw lentils contain phytohaemagglutinin. This is a type of lectin. Lectin is a particular type of protein that binds to some carbohydrates. Certain forms of lectin are known to be bad for you, but the cooking process neutralizes any harmful effects.
Are There Different Types Of Lentils?
If you look at all the lentils on the shelf at your local supermarket, you will see that they are a little bit like Joseph’s multicolored coat. This intriguing little legume grows in many different colors.
The different colors have a variety of flavors and textures, but all of them share the same advantage of being highly nutritious. They are all easily digestible, and easy to cook. They can all be cooked in a rice cooker.
BLACK LENTILS are also sometimes called Beluga lentils because they look a little bit like Beluga caviar. They are full of flavor and are the healthiest of all the lentil varieties.
One portion of black lentils will give you about 30% of your daily protein requirements. They are full of other nutrients as well and can be the basis for many wholesome meals.
RED LENTILS have a slightly sweet flavor. They have a softer texture than black lentils and are an excellent addition to soups and stews. They are also rich in many nutrients and are a healthy food choice.
GREEN LENTILS contain high levels of antioxidants and are a good source of iron and magnesium. Tasting a little like mild pepper, they are a great ingredient to add to salads.
YELLOW LENTILS tend to have a slightly nutty taste and are very popular in Indian cuisine. Their lovely color makes them an attractive choice, as they give the dish an appetizing glow.
BROWN LENTILS are the most versatile of all the lentil varieties. With their distinctive flavor, they can be paired with salads, go well in soups and stews, and are delicious as a meat substitute.
How Do You Cook Lentils?
There are numerous ways to cook lentils. They need to be washed first and then cooked in water. They can either be cooked in a saucepan on the stovetop, or you can use one of the many new types of kitchen appliances designed for cooking different foods.
In addition to my regular stove, in my kitchen, I have lots of other cooking appliances and gadgets. Look on my kitchen counters and in my cupboards, and you will see things that my grandmother could never have dreamed of.
Things like the air fryer, the rice cooker, the electric pressure cooker, the toaster oven, the smoothie maker, and many others, are all modern inventions that have been designed to simplify our lives and make them easier.
They all have their place and perform various useful functions. Some of them, like the rice cooker, have become multipurpose tools that can be used for many different things. This makes life a lot easier for us.
Do You Need To Soak Lentils Before Cooking?
It is not recommended to soak lentils before cooking them. Some other legumes, such as beans, should be soaked before cooking, otherwise, they will be too hard and grainy.
However, if you soak lentils before cooking they will be too soft and will have a mushy consistency. They will lose their shape, and will not have a pleasant texture.
Can You Cook Lentils In A Rice Cooker?
I absolutely LOVE cooking lentils in my rice cooker. I try to serve lentils to my family at least once or twice a week because they are an inexpensive and healthy food choice. They are also delicious when cooked correctly.
I know that when I place a bowl of lentils on my table, I am giving my family a nutritious superfood that everyone will enjoy. And now that I have discovered that you can cook lentils in a rice cooker, they are so incredibly easy to prepare.
Many people like their lentils plain, or cooked with only a little salt to add a dash of flavor. But I like to add some herbs and spices. I find that it livens them up, and makes the lentils a perfect accompaniment to any meal.
You will need the following ingredients:
- 1 cup Lentils
- 2 cups water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon saffron
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- A splash of olive oil
Follow this step-by-step guide for the best lentils, cooked in a rice cooker.
- Place the lentils in a colander and rinse well under running water.
- Pour the washed lentils into a bowl and toss in a splash of olive oil.
- Add the herbs and spices and mix well with a spoon.
- Place the lentils in the inner pot of your rice cooker, and insert them into the rice cooker.
- Add the water.
- Place the lid securely onto the rice cooker.
- Set the timer for 30 minutes.
- Leave the lentils to cook.
- At the end of the cooking time, the rice cooker should switch to ‘Warm’ mode. This means that the cooking time is up.
- Leave to stand for 5 minutes before opening the rice cooker.
- Serve piping hot.
The benefits Of Using A Rice Cooker
A rice cooker has so many benefits. It not only makes perfect rice, but it can also do many other things and has many advantages.
The rice cooker cooks perfectly. Your food will not burn. Whether you use it to cook rice, lentils, or anything else, it won’t clump and stick together.
EASY TO CLEAN
Most rice cookers have a nonstick coating, making them very easy to clean. No more hard scrubbing as you try to remove the residue of burnt food from the bottom of the pot.
You do not need to stand looking after it. Switch it on, and leave it to do its work. While the rice cooker is doing the cooking, you are free to get on with other things that need to be done.
A rice cooker is an economical way to cook. It uses far less energy than cooking on the stovetop.
The rice cooker itself is not too costly. You can get a basic model for under $30.
MULTIPURPOSE SPACE SAVER
The rice cooker is not a very bulky appliance. It will not take up too much space and can serve many purposes. If you use it to its full potential, you do not need many other pots and pans.
I’m sure that once you have tried to cook lentils in a rice cooker, you will never want to cook them any other way.