The flavours of all three are similar enough to make them interchangeable in most recipes, but brown lentils are usually less expensive. PICTURE: NYTIMES

It's Ash Wednesday today and many Christians are choosing to cut out a lot of foods, in order to observe Lent, which is a religious observance in the Christian calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday.

Meat is one of the many foods that people choose to give up in this period and lentils are known for being a great replacement for meat, because of it's nutritional values. 

Here's how to prepare them 

Serve with a source of vitamin C such as spinach, broccoli or watercress to increase the amount of iron you absorb. A 100g cooked portion provides 2.4mg iron — the same as 90g of cooked lean minced beef.

Replace 20 per cent of the red meat in a cottage pie or chilli with lentils. This can cut 2g saturated fat (10 per cent of your recommended maximum) per portion while adding more fibre than in an apple.

Try lentils sprinkled with 30g grated cheese as a tasty topping for a baked potato — the lentils lower the glycaemic index of the potato so it doesn’t raise your blood sugar as swiftly, keeping you full for longer. The cheese adds calcium and flavour.

Add a big handful to tomato or vegetable soup to create a heartier meal. Three tablespoons count as an extra veg portion.

For a real protein punch at breakfast, fold cooked lentils into an omelette. Protein can help to curb your appetite all morning.

Daily Mail