Lentil Salad with Carrots and Cilantro & Taking Care Of Yourself During The Holidays

Lentil Salad with Carrots and Cilantro is a filling vegetarian salad that is filled with protein and flavor. Serve it as a main meal, a side dish or snack.

Lentil Salad with Carrots and Cilantro is a filling vegetarian salad that is filled with protein and flavor. Serve it as a main meal, a side dish or snack.

It happens every year…one second you are trick or treating with your kids, then next thing you know you just finished washing all of your Thanksgiving leftover tupperware and people are asking you if you’ve finished your Christmas shopping yet. It’s seriously so hard to wrap your mind around how fast time flies around this time of year (so cliche, I know). And how “busy” we tend to feel every day.

Personally, I’m not a fan of time flying fast and feeling busy. I have to constantly keep myself in check. My husband likes to keep me in check too. 😉

My friend Sandy wrote a post on savoring the holidays the other day and it really stuck with me. From her post:


I think as women we sometimes forget to breathe during the month of December! So today I’m sharing my 5 tips for a less stressful month of December. I’m sharing from the perspective of a 50+ year old, married woman, mama of 3 adult kids, and what I’ve learned from some crazy holiday seasons. Seriously, I think in our 30s we’re just trying to do to much and impress one another. In my 40s I learned to slow down, but still piled quite a bit on. Now today, I’m savoring every moment that I can by planning, spreading out the activities, having down time, and not overdoing. Basically, the holidays for our family mean being with the people we love.

Sandy’s words above and tips in her post are absolutely ON POINT. I encourage you to read her post and really think about how you personally spend your holiday season. I am so so thankful to have friends like her who remind me to slow down and breathe (and not just during the holidays).

Another thing that seems to happen to us around this time of year too is feeling tired, run down and just spent. Doesn’t sound fun does it? All the busyness tends to eventually catch up with us and if we are not getting the rest we need, the exercise we need and eating food that is good for our bodies, well…we start to feel it. (Not to mention all the sick germs that are floating around right now too!) I thought a lot about this this morning while I was out walking with my little guy. This past month I have not been doing a good job of taking care of myself (I did get hit with the flu and an sinus infection back to back so that is part of the reason…but leading to that hasn’t been great either). Not getting in walks, not getting enough rest, you know the drill…well, humor me here as I list out a few things that I told myself I need to be doing to take better care of myself — starting now. None of these things are new, they are literally just the basics. And really, they are just a friendly reminder and encouragement for all of us to remember to take care of ourselves during this {hectic} time of year.

5 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself During The Holidays:

1. Get your rest. Yes, that might mean putting your laptop or phone away (and I mean away from your bed) earlier on in the evening. It could mean tucking your kids in a little earlier too. It might mean not staying up too late to finish your latest book (boo!). I know I need my 8 hours of sleep to feel my best. It feels like a bummer sometimes, but shutting it down early enough to get those hours (whatever they may be) is totally worth it. Our immune systems and moods always suffer when we don’t get enough rest.

2. Take your vitamins. For some reason, I stopped taking my vitamins regularly a couple of months ago. No reason why, just got out of routine and got lazy about it. I take a prenatal vitamin (still, because I just like it), vitamin B12 strips, and turmeric capsules regularly. (I would check with your physician before taking any vitamins and supplements.)

3. Exercise! Now, hear me out on this one. I am very realistic about my exercise this time of year. All I want to do is move my body and get in a good sweat for a good 30-45 minutes. I’m not training for a half marathon (though I have done that before during this time of year, one day again!), or trying to make every class at the gym (confession: I haven’t been to the gym in months 😉 ). What I am doing is taking walks with my little man, good walks. I am getting fresh air, sweating and spending time with my boy. That is what my exercise looks like right now. Find your exercise. It might be a walk outdoors if you live somewhere where the weather lets you, it might be a class or the elliptical at the gym before or after work or on the weekend. Or it could be Jillian’s 30-Day Shred (20 minute killer workouts!) or Yoga Meltdown. Do what works for you. Just do something. It will balance out all the extra food and wine we are having this month!

4. Eat a salad a day. If you know me, you know I love my salads! Well, truth be told — I’m not loving salads right now. It happens. But I know I need my salads more than ever right now. Take the time to prep some greens, find a new salad dressing to love or make a salad that’s a little different (like this one here today) from the norm to keep things interesting. The point is to just eat a big bowl of veggies (aka “salad”) every day and feel good about it. Like I said above – it’s all about the balance right now!

5. Stretch your body. You don’t have to be a runner or big time exerciser to have tight muscles. I get my worst muscle aches from sitting here at the computer for long periods of time (my posture is horrible!). This morning I did a simple yoga stretch (triangle pose) and oh my goodness was my body ever so grateful.  I didn’t realize how tight my muscles were until I took a few minutes to stretch out a bit. Yoga will always be my favorite way to stretch (and strengthen) my body, and I found this very cool page of all kinds of yoga poses and guides for anyone and everyone. Even if you don’t do “yoga” get some stretching in one way or another, your neck, back and legs will thank you! Don’t forget about that foam roller too!

Ok…I’m done talking about what I need to be doing to take care of myself. I’m ready to eat. 🙂

Lentil Salad with Carrots and Cilantro is a filling vegetarian salad that is filled with protein and flavor. Serve it as a main meal, a side dish or snack.

I love lentil salads. I’ve made a few over the years (this Mediterranean Lentil Salad is one of my favorites), and I when I found this Lentil Salad with Carrots and Cilantro recipe in my new America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook I couldn’t wait to try it. I had all the ingredients on hand, and I also learned a new method to cooking lentils too (gotta love ATK!). I have already made chickpea cakes from this same cookbook and they turned out amazing!

Baked Lentils

Baking lentils in the oven – don’t be intimidated! It’s quite easy actually and the lentils turned out firm and tasty!

This Lentil Salad with Carrots and Cilantro is the type of food that is great to have on hand for quick lunches or even a snack. It’s light, and full of protein so it fills you up – in the best way possible. It’s delicious on it’s own, but makes a great side dish to broiled fish or chicken.

Lentil Salad with Carrots and Cilantro is a filling vegetarian salad that is filled with protein and flavor. Serve it as a main meal, a side dish or snack.

Print Recipe

Lentil Salad with Carrots and Cilantro

Yield: 4-6 servings

Total Time:1 hour 55 minutes


  • 1 cup lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth or water if you want to keep it vegetarian)
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


To prepare lentils:

  1. Combine lentils and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Cover with 4 cups warm water and soak for 1 hour. Drain well. (Drained lentils can be refrigerated up to 2 days before cooking.)
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine drained lentils, 2 cups water, 2 cups broth or water, garlic, bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium (ovenproof) saucepan. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until lentils are tender but still intact, 40-60 minutes.
  3. Drain lentils well and discard garlic and bay leaf.

To prepare lentil salad:

  1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne (if using) together in a large bowl.
  2. Add drained lentils, carrots, and cilantro to oil and lemon juice mixture. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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More vegetarian salad recipes like this Lentil Salad with Carrots and Cilantro:

Balela Salad | Reluctant Entertainer

Vegan Ancient Grain Salad | The View From Great Island

Fireworks Orzo Salad | It’s Yummi

For more healthy recipes check out my Pinterest board. Follow Aggie’s Kitchen’s board Healthy Recipes on Pinterest.