For people who are new to a gluten free diet and lifestyle the world of food can suddenly become very confusing and a little overwhelming.
So many things that you never considered as having gluten are now forbidden in your diet.
One of the questions that is frequently asked is are lentils gluten free?
We’re going to help you cut through the confusion and explain about lentils and their place in a gluten free diet.
What Are Lentils?
Lentils belong to a family of plants called legumes. These are also known as pulses. Peas, chickpeas and beans are all types of legumes. Lentils are high in protein and low in fat and so are a very healthy food.
Not only are they healthy for people but also for the soil. Along with the bacteria that exist with them, they return extra nitrogen to the soil without ever taking any out.
Despite some confusion, lentils are not beans. They do however belong to the same family of vegetables, but both are classified as legumes or pulses.
There are many varieties of lentils including flat green and brown, french also known as puy, black, red and yellow lentils. They vary slightly in shape, color and whether they have skin on the outside.
What Is A Gluten Free Diet?
A gluten free diet is adopted by most people who need to avoid consuming gluten for health reasons. Others choose to follow a gluten free diet because they believe it is healthier.
People who suffer from celiac disease should avoid gluten as this auto-immune disorder can seriously impact on their health and quality of life.
Others have an allergy to gluten which is not as serious as celiac disease but still has a profound impact on the health of the sufferer if they ingest gluten.
Finally there are those who have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity to gluten can also suffer uncomfortable symptoms when exposed to gluten.
There is no cure for these conditions, but the symptoms can be managed by avoiding foods that contain gluten.
Are Lentils Gluten Free?
Gluten comes from grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Lentils are a legume, which means it is a type of vegetable and not a grain.
Therefore there is no gluten in lentils, and they are safe for those who need to avoid gluten for health reasons.
However, there is always a risk of cross contamination with products which do contain gluten, so it is important to check the lentils before eating them.
This can mean emptying them into a sieve and physically checking for errant grains and washing the lentils to remove any grain dust.
A study conducted in 2021 involving spot checks on 24 bags of lentils purchased randomly found two bags contained grains of wheat and barley. This is because the crops are often grown, harvested and stored close together.
What Makes Lentils Gluten Free?
Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye and the products that are made from them.
As lentils are a legume and not a grain they contain no gluten. This makes them safe for celiac disease sufferers and those who have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
Gluten Free Lentil Recipes
As lentils are such a healthy food, low in fat and high in protein as well as being gluten free you have all the reasons you need to eat them often.
There are a lot of lentil recipes available for you to try, so we have included some here to get you started.
Red Lentil Coconut Soup
This recipe uses red lentils which have no outer skin, and so they tend to break down and create a creamy consistency. They also have a milder flavor than some other lentils.
- 1 onion
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp ginger root
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/3 cup organic tomato paste
- 7 cups water
- 2 cups canned chickpeas
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 2 cups split red lentils
- Saute the onion, diced bell pepper and jalapeno in some coconut oil.
- Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder, cinnamon and salt. Cook for a minute and then add the tomato paste.
- Cook for another minute and then add the lentils, chickpeas, water and coconut milk.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Eat on the day or store and freeze for up to 2-3 months.
Tomato Basil Lentil Salad
While soup is great for the cold weather you want a go-to lentil recipe for warmer days too. So this tomato, basil and lentil salad is ideal. It’s also great for those days when you are in a hurry.
- 2 cups dried red lentils
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 10-12 fresh basil leaves
- 2 small finely minced garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Put the lentils into a pot with 4 cups of water.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes, so they are al dente.
- Drain the lentils.
- Now add them to a bowl with the tomatoes, garlic, basil, both cheeses, salt and pepper.
- Stir gently to mix all the ingredients together.
- Pour over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Stir again and serve.
Lentils are a wonderful source of protein and not just for those who don’t eat gluten, they are healthy for everyone.
However, for people who need to live a gluten free life for health reasons there can be a lack of fiber in their diet as a result.
So eating lentils is not only ok for those with gluten intolerance but actually encouraged to supplement their diet in a positive way.
Lentils will give you fiber, protein and a low fat, no cholesterol addition to your diet.