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Naturally Gluten-free – Lentils

Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse. They are also naturally gluten-free – one of my favorite things in the world. Naturally gluten-free foods make my life so much easier. Lentils are much easier to prepare than dry bean – taking less than an hour and there is no soaking involved. Here is some information on lentils from The World’s Healthiest Foods:

Lentils are legumes along with other types of beans. They grow in pods that contain either one or two lentil seeds that are round, oval or heart-shaped disks and are oftentimes smaller than the tip of a pencil eraser. They may be sold whole or split into halves with the brown and green varieties being the best at retaining their shape after cooking.

Health Benefits

Lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. But this is far from all lentils have to offer. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein-all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up–not out.

Lentils-A Fiber All Star

Check a chart of the fiber content in foods; you’ll see legumes leading the pack. Lentils, like other beans, are rich in dietary fiber, both the soluble and insoluble type. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that snares bile (which contains cholesterol)and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

Iron for Energy

In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, lentils can increase your energy by replenishing your iron stores. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with lentils is a good idea–especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, lentils are not rich in fat and calories. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you’re pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron.

One of my favorite ways to make lentils is Honey Baked Lentils. I also love to make Lentil Tacos (a method I will share below). I have a new recipe from Veganomicon that I have been dying to try for Snobby Joes that use lentils.

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Lentil Tacos/Mexican Pizzas

Cooked Lentils (follow directions on package; I used 365 Organic Lentils)

  1. 1 cup lentils (this makes a lot of lentils!)
  2. 4-5 cups hot water
  3. Simmer gently with lid tilted until desired tenderness is reached, about 30 – 45 minutes.
  4. Drain

Taco Seasoning

Refried Beans (I used Trader Joe’s)

Tostada Shells

Cheese

Olives

Tomatoes

Red Hot

  1. Take 1/2 cup of cooked lentils per serving and add 1 tsp of taco seasoning per serving (I used Old El Paso Original).
  2. Mix with a touch of water until well combined.
  3. Heat 2 tostada shells according to the package directions or use corn tortillas & bake in the oven. (I used Ortega).
  4. Spread your refried beans over your tostada shell; top with half of the lentils & shredded cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake until cheese is melty.
  6. Top with olives, tomatoes & Red Hot

I used 2 tostadas & half a cup of cooked lentils for one serving. You can easily make this for more, just adjust the seasoning. The pkg. suggests 1-2 tsps per serving of meat, so I used 1 tsp for one serving of lentils. Technically a serving of lentils is 1 cup, but I was using refried beans, too, and there is no way I could get 1/2 cup of lentils on each tostada shell.

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Lentils are important for me right now in getting the fiber, carbs, protein & iron that I need while training for my marathon. I also donated blood on Monday, so I need to replace what I donated. Red meat is a good way, but I don’t eat a lot of red meat, so lentils it is! :)

13 comments to Naturally Gluten-free – Lentils

  • Great idea for using lentils! I will have to try this one, thanks!

  • Terrific post, Kim. Real food–love it! :-) Interestingly enough, lentils are a food I never even tried before going gluten free. Now I really appreciate them for their taste and protein, etc. I know I would love these lentil tacos, because one of my all-time favorite taco fillings is a kidney bean mixture. This is a gfe-type recipe, you know. ;-)

    Thanks!

    Shirley

  • sue

    sounds great! I'll def. have to give this one a try!

    Sue (sueg2h on twitter)

  • Kim

    Please let me know how you like them! :)

    Kim

  • Debbie

    I note that lentils in stores where I live,in New England, say on the package that they are processed in plants that also process wheat, soy and other foods. Has anyone had problems with cross-contamination from lentils, or does the rinse before use solve the problem? I would love to be cooking and eating lentils on the Gf diet!

    Debbie

  • All your meals and products you feature on your blog look so delicious! My boyfriend loves lentils and tacos so this is a perfect combination. Thanks for the recipe! I usually like chips on the side of my tacos. Since tortilla chips sometimes contain gluten, I usually grab cassava chips. I'd definitely recommend them if you're looking for a potato-chip-like crunch without all the allergens!

  • catherine sterner

    Lentils are grown in wheat growing regions, harvested with same equipment, and contaminated with wheat berries. Suggest you pick through raw lentils prior to washing to remove any wheat that may be present.

  • Ginger Devora

    I have a very easy lentil recipe for all of you lentil lovers! My husband and I came across this dish at an Ethiopian restaurant in NY some years ago, and we have made it often at home since then. It's like a salad and should be eaten cold as a side dish. We like having it with crackers also as a healthy snack. You'll need:
    1 1/2 cups of green lentils
    1 small red onion
    1-2 de-seeded fresh green chilli pepper
    1 firm tomato
    1/2 lime (juice)
    1-2 teaspoons mustard (any unsweeted variety like Dijon, Colemans or yellow mustard work well)
    extra virgin olive oil
    salt

    Pick through the lentils. Rinse. Leave to soak in plenty of cool water for 1 hour. Pour out the water and cook in fresh salted water on low heat for about 1 hour. Pour out the water and let cool. Finely chop the de-seeded chili pepper(s) and red onions. Mix with the lentils. Add mustard, lime juice and olive oil. Salt to taste. Chill before serving. It tastes great the day after. Enjoy!

  • Ginger Devora

    Sorry, I forgot the tomato. It should be chopped and added to the mixture with the chili peppers and red onion.

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