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Monday, February 3, 2014

For A Healthy New You: Eat Your Peas, Love Your Lentils!

For A Healthy New You: Eat Your Peas, Love Your Lentils!

Aloha! Happy New Year!

Kiong Hee Huat Tsai! We just celebrated Chinese New Year's Day the other week. New Year means new beginning. Thus, it is just right that we should start eating healthy in the Year of the Wooden Horse. I was having various health problems before the Chinese New Year. It prohibited me from eating my favorite adobo, lechon kawali and other "sinful" dishes that are part of my regular diet. I am aware that in order for my state of health to improve I must change my diet fast. It is a good thing that my friend Marlon and Reggie invited me to an event themed "Peas Be Unto You and Lentils, Too!"

The event is an eye-opener for me. I learned that Peas and Lentils are among the greatest additions to any diet, especially for those who are diabetic, those who have heart problems, and those who are trying to lose weight. When a person tries to lose weight, a lot of fiber is needed. And among the good sources of fiber and which are safe for your health are beans and lentils.

Legume is a class of vegetables that include beans, peas and lentils. They are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. Legumes have these distinct characteristics:

  • typically low in fat 
  • contain no cholesterol 
  • high in folate 
  • potassium 
  • iron 
  • magnesium. 
  • They also contain beneficial fats 
  • soluble fiber 
  • insoluble fiber.
A good source of protein, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat which has more fat and cholesterol. I became an instant fan of these versatile, economical and convenient legumes.

Filipino master chef Ojie Reloj, showcased recipes that highlighted peas and lentils. Lentils are so easy to throw into a pot. With two minutes’ effort, you got something simmering and ready to eat in about 30 minutes.

Jenny Dacasin and Charisse Galvez, product managers of the company that distributes Easycook peas and lentils and other legumes, Ideal Macaroni and Spaghetti Factory, Inc., gave an overview of the company and its products.

According to the US Dry Pea and Lentil Council of the USDA, pulses are everything on one plate: they deliver great flavor that's not only nutrient-dense, but also gluten-free with low allergen and low glycemic responses.

Legumes use nitrogen from the atmosphere to make protein. They are a valuable equivalent to animal protein but have the added benefit of being low in fat and less in calories. In comparison, a six-ounce cut of steak provides 40 grams of protein, but also 38 grams of fat (14 gram saturated fat) while a cup of cooked lentils gives 18 grams of protein and only one gram of fat. This is not surprising, considering lentils are the third highest source of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut (next only to soybeans and hemp).

Protein is an important cell builder of the body. It is crucial in building muscles and tissues, the parts of your body you need to move and lead an active lifestyle. When choosing sources of protein, it is essential to select lean, nutrient-dense food like beans, nuts and whole grains. Dried peas and lentils are available everywhere, any time of the year, and so offer one of the most inexpensive sources of protein.

Fiber is important because it helps clean out one's digestive system. Along with an adequate intake of liquids, fiber flushes out unwanted toxins from the body. Soluble or dietary fiber reduces the risk of developing many diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and constipation. And because fiber-rich foods fill one up quickly, there are less calories consumed.

Fiber is found mainly in legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The more you eat and the more active you are, the more you need fiber. 

Peas and lentils provide one of the highest amounts of fiber. A cup of cooked split peas gives 16.3 grams of fiber, while a cup of cooked lentils has 15.6 grams of fiber. To compare, the traditional source of fiber, cooked oatmeal, contains four grams of fiber.

Peas and lentils like beans and other legumes are rich in phytochemicals. These antioxidants help in defending the body against the effects of free radicals, and slow down aging and breakdown of body processes. Studies show that a diet high in antioxidants from fruits and vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Peas are round. Peas are used in side dishes, salads, casseroles, and soups

• Black-eyed peas

• Whole peas

• Split peas are whole peas split in half

Lentils are flat disks. Lentils are used in soups

• Green

• Red

• Yellow

• Black

Some of the recipes Reloj made are the following:
  • lentils a la mongo (prepared the same way as mongo)
  • lentils or yellow split peas empanaditas
  • and lentils and pesto macaroni soup. 
Easycook peas, lentils, and beans are distributed in the Philippines by Ideal Macaroni and Spaghetti Factory Inc. For more information, go to their Web site



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