Lentils: these little legumes will do more than just keep you full and energetic- they'll work hard to keep your skin and hair in top condition. And while lentils are a staple cool-weather food (think warm, spicy lentil dal), they're also perfect for hot weather days when served cool as a lentil salad.
Like many whole grains, lentils are ideal for busy cooks- just rinse (no soaking necessary), add water (about 2 cups of cold water for every cup of lentils), set the stove on medium and the timer on 20 minutes...and walk away. Stir and check your lentils at 20 minutes and reset the timer (another 10-15 minutes should get them soft, but not mushy). Drain out any excess liquid and let cool. Store cooked lentils in the fridge overnight if you plan to assemble your salad tomorrow; otherwise toss them with red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne or any spices you like. Add olive oil, finely minced scallion and anything else you have on hand- grape tomatoes, diced carrot, celery or cucumber, goat cheese, etc. Your lentil salad can be a new creation every time you make it (the best way to cook, right?).
But where does beauty enter the picture? In every bite! Lentils are packed with beauty-supporting minerals, including selenium (important for skin and hair), biotin (a must for strong locks) and zinc (one of the most crucial minerals for radiant skin). Add that to a hefty serving of protein, amino acids, B vitamins, iron and folate (very important to get from your diet, not from a supplement) and you have one amazing little food. Lentils also contain tannins- phytochemicals that fend off cancer- and lots of soluble fiber, which can lower blood cholesterol. Is this an amazing food or what? Try making this salad tonight and keep lentils stored in your kitchen cabinets for a last-second side dish, regardless of the season.