Yep, that’s right, there seems to be a lot of discrepancy out there. I realized this the first time I ever cooked with lentils and tried to calculate the nutritional information of the dish. I knew that my bag of store-brand green lentils at home said there were 70 calories in a 1/4 cup serving of dry lentils. I swear I have a photographic memory for nutrition labels. But when I did a quick search online for nutritional information, I found that lentils can range from 70 calories per 1/4 cup dry, all the way to 180! Well, of course they can’t really do that – a lentil is a lentil, no matter who harvested and packaged it. So what’s the deal? Well, all calories are not equal.
According to The Daily Plate
, a database of nutritional information containing many food brands, here is some nutritional information for green lentils:
Goya: 70 cals, 19g carbs, 9g fiber, 8g protein
Carbohydrates and protein each have about 4 calories per gram. So, it’s easy to see that things don’t quite add up for the Goya lentils – they have 108 calories from carbs and protein. So why report 70? Well, that’s where the fiber content comes into play. I’m not quite a low-carb expert, but I have heard about “net carbs” – total carbohydrates minus the fiber content. Since your body does not absorb the fiber, it doesn’t really count. If you take ((19-10)g carbs + 8 g protein)*4 cals, you get 72 cals – rounded to what is reported on the package. On the contrary, it appears that Arrowhead is reporting the calories based on the the total amount of carbohydrates, not adjusting for the fiber content. Why the Arrowhead are listed as containing more total carbohydrates than the Goya brand, I have no idea. But, what I can conclude is that some manufacturers report fiber content, and others do not. It seems like it should be standard practice to do it one way or the other, and as a calorie-counter I need to figure out which way is best for me. I think, for me, knowing that most of more carbohydrate intake comes from fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, and therefore is “counteracted” by high fiber content, is the the best bet.
Why all the talk about lentils? Well I finally expanded my lentil repertoire to include red lentils. And of course, I ran into the same problems when calculating the nutritional information for this dish. Fortunately, even when using a higher estimate, my dinner portion still remained within what I consider to be a reasonable number of calories. (But as you can imagine, I agonized over which to use!) The dinner was fantastic – my husband and I both loved the spice combination used in the lentils and dusted on the scallops. It was interesting that I chose this dish, as neither of us are huge fans of scallops, but we both enjoyed them spiced and pan-seared with the hearty lentils.
Moroccan Spiced Scallops and Lentils
From Bon Appetit, ingredient amounts changed to make enough for a hearty dinner for two
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
About 1 cup chicken broth broth
1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for sprinkling
1 lb sea scallops, patted dry
Mix first the spices together in small bowl. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the onion, cooking for a few minutes until softened and translucent. Add half of the spice mixture and saute for about 20 seconds more, then stir in vegetable broth and lentils. Bring to boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed (note, if you’re new to red lentils like I was, be aware that they do cook faster than green, and they do get mushier). Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
When lentils are just about ready, heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Toss the scallops with remaining spices and season with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and sear for about 2 minutes per side, until browned on the outside and opaque in the center. Serve the scallops over the lentils and sprinkle with additional cilantro.
Servings Per Recipe: 2
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 8.9 g
Cholesterol: 74.8 mg
Sodium: 838.2 mg
Total Carbs: 42.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 10.4 g
Protein: 51.8 g