Lentils: from comfort food to a healthy staple I didn’t give any thought to lentils’ health benefits back when I was a child, I just knew the lentil soup I regularly ordered when my dad took me out for lunch on Manhattan’s Upper West Side would hit the spot perfectly. I remember eating it with the sliced rye bread and good pickles they put on the table—it was full of savoury flavor, satisfying, and felt a little like a warm hug in a bowl. Sure, that feeling had something to do with my dining companion, but the soup was an integral, nourishing part of the experience.In college, canned lentil soup was my healthy convenience go-to. It did the trick to fuel my late-night studying and, now that I think about it, it also fortified me subconsciously with the comforting memories of eating with my dad. By that time, as a nutrition major I was keyed in to just how good those lentils were for me—loaded with protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Since I didn’t have access to a full kitchen in my dorm, those cans of lentil soup were an ideal college staple, especially in comparison to the cheese steaks from the hot truck that were the main mid-night alternative.Once I was out in the world on my own and honing my skills as a cook, I began not only to make my own lentil soup from scratch, but also to experiment with lentils in a multitude of different ways. I learned to cook them with onions and cumin seed over rice, like my Egyptian friend taught me. I experimented with mashed lentil and walnut pate’—I made French-style lentil salads, Indian spiced red lentil stews and Italian pasta with lentils. The versatility of this wonderful food is astounding– you could take a culinary world tour exploring recipes with them!Now, besides all the dishes I mentioned, I make lentil soup regularly for my daughter. She is going on 15 years old, and it has been one of her favorites since she was a toddler. I know it is a comfort food for her like it has been for me, but it also gives me a different kind of comfort knowing that when I have a pot of homemade lentil soup in the refrigerator, she has a healthy after-school snack at the ready, or quick dinner to fuel her volleyball practice.I continue to be inspired by lentils and enjoy experimenting with them well beyond the soup world, creating innovative dishes that make it easy and inspiring to eat well on a daily basis. This recipe reflects that sensibility—a one-skillet meal that comes together quickly with simple, fresh ingredients. It is protein rich, nutrient rich, and most importantly flavour rich. It dishes up that savoury satisfaction I am always yearning for. I already know my daughter gives it two thumbs up. I can’t wait to make it for my dad.Ellie KriegerHost and executive producer of the Public Television cooking series “Ellie’s Real Good Food,” and well known as the host of Food Network’s hit show “Healthy Appetite,” Ellie Krieger is the leading go-to nutritionist in the media today, helping people find the sweet spot where delicious and healthy meet.She is a New York Times bestselling, James Beard Foundation and IACP award winning author of five cookbooks. Her most recent is You Have it Made: Delicious, Healthy Do-Ahead Meals (Jan 2016). Ellie is a weekly columnist for The Washington Post and she has been a columnist for Fine Cooking, Food Network magazine and USA Today. Ellie speaks regularly at event around the country, appears on national television shows, such as Today, Good Morning America, and The Wendy Williams Show, and has been featured in magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, People, and Self, to name a few.A registered dietitian who earned her bachelors of science in clinical nutrition from Cornell and her master’s in nutrition education from Teacher’s College Columbia University, Ellie has been at the forefront of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign from the beginning when Mrs. Obama’s team invited her to head up a nutrition education initiative at the “Healthy Kids Fair” on the Whitehouse lawn.