Lentils are one of my favorite protein sources, especially green lentils. They provide tons of fiber and iron while being very versatile. I’ve used them in sloppy Joe’s and burgers, and often just cook them on a Sunday so that I can throw them on salads or potatoes throughout the week.
This lentil bake is one of both mine and Tim’s favorites, though. He even says it tastes a like real meat loaf! To get a bit more of that texture, you can mash lentils ahead or give them a couple of pulses in the food processor. Added carrots and pumpkin (or sweet potato) give the dish a carotenoid boost too!
I highly recommend you get this on your meal prep list – it can be frozen, too! To make even faster, you can use quick cook rice and cooked lentils rather than dry.
- Slice up by itself with a side of green beans or other veggies
- Dish up a slice onto bread or roll of choice
- Enjoy with mac and cheese (vegan or regular!)
- Dice and add to a wrap (love in a TJ brown rice wrap w/ nutritional yeast)
- Throw an egg on it!
Baked Vegan Lentil Loaf
- 2 Cups cooked organic brown rice
- 1 Cup dry green lentils
- 1/2 Cup dry red lentils
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large or 2 small-medium onions, diced
- 1.5 cups tomatoes, diced (can use canned but choose low sodium)
- 2 carrots, grated
- 4 ounces tomato paste (or 2 Tbsp concentrate)
- 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (can sub mashed sweet potato or butternut squash)
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp crushed black pepper
- Cook rice with water according to package directions. I typically prepare one cup dry and have a little left over after adding 2 cups to the recipe.
- Cook the lentils with about 4 cups of water but add extra if they seem too firm once all water has been absorbed and/or evaporated
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F
- Heat oil over low-medium heat and add the garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes (do not let garlic turn brown)
- Add the onions and tomatoes, stir and cover for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Add the shredded carrot, stir and turn off heat. Let Sit covered for a few minutes
- Spray a 9×11 baking pan or dish (or larger for thinner slices) with cooking spray
- Add all prepared ingredients to large baking dish
- Mix in the tomato paste, pumpkin, and all seasoning and stir well until mixture is consistent throughout
- Place dish, uncovered into oven and let bake for 35-45 minutes (I generally go for the longer amount of time to get the loaf more crispy on top)
- Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes
- Use a knife to cut and serve up with a spatula
Real Ingredients with Real Benefits:
Lentils don’t get as much attention as they should. Per 1/4 C dry serving they provide more protein and iron than beans. You’ll get lots of B-vitamins from this legume, especially thiamin and folate. They’re also a great source of choline, potassium and many minerals. Lentils are high in both insoluble and soluble fiber; soluble being the type that helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. Green lentils provide much more fiber than red though so while I used a mixture of both in this recipe, I use green more often.
Tomatoes pack in lots of Vitamins A, C, and the important fluid balance mineral Potassium. They are well known in terms of phytochemical content for their lycopene which is known for reducing risk of prostate cancer. This was one of the first phytochemicals that really made a name for itself. It is often forgetten that tomatoes also provide other carotenoids and flavonoids such as quercitin.
Rice provides a good amount of Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Riboflavin & Manganese. You can also get phytochemicals like quercetin (great for your immune system and lungs) & several carotenoids. Purchase organic rice as it is not as likely to be contaminated with inorganic arsenic.
Onions & garlic are part of the same family, providing the phytochemicals allicin and sulfides which are linked to improved immunity and respiratory health. Onions also provide Vitamins C, B6 and folate.
Carrots and pumpkin are most known for the role in eye health. This is because they have a high content of Vitamin A and other phytochemical carotenoids which not only support your eyes but also skin, hair and antioxidant systems. They are also high in Vitamins C & K and the mineral potassium. Pumpkin also contains a good mount of fiber. Antioxidants work to keep your heart healthy and potassium is important for fluid balance and plays a role in maintaining normal blood pressure.
Cayenne contains capsaicin. Capsaicin has long been used for decreasing joint pain and inflammation topically but in the body may aid in appetite control, metabolism and intestinal inflammation. Oh and you aren’t the only one who gets a runny nose from spicy food – these peppers can all help clear your sinuses!
Servings: 8 (*Athletes: split into just 4 servings if planning to eat on it’s own)
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: < 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: < 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 43 g
Fiber: 11 g
Sugar: 8 g
Protein: 12 g
Sodium: *300 mg 13 %
Potassium: 675 mg 15 %
Vitamin A: 30% Thiamin: 25 % Riboflavin: 8 %
Niacin: 15 % Folate: 2 % Vitamin C: 30 %
Vitamin E: 10 % Calcium: 6 % Iron: 25 %
*Sodium content if using canned tomatoes. Will be much lower with fresh tomatoes. Athletes should add 1 tsp salt to recipe if using fresh tomatoes
**vitamins & minerals are listed as % daily value; you may need more than 100% each day if you’re an athlete, have a deficiency disease, or other medical concerns