If your doctor has prescribed you to follow a gluten-free diet, many foods you regularly enjoy may be off-limits. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Although plain lentils do not fall into these categories, some lentil preparations may include ingredients containing gluten.
For people with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is a way of life. Eating even the tiniest bit of gluten can cause digestive distress, skin rashes, weakness and many other symptoms. If you do not avoid all gluten, you may develop malnutrition, cancer, additional autoimmune disorders, osteoporosis and thyroid disease. Understanding which foods contain gluten helps you protect your health.
Lentils are a legume and contain no gluten. In fact, lentils are an extremely nutritious way for people with celiac disease to fit in energy-producing carbohydrates. One cup of lentils contains 40 g of carbohydrates with 16 g of fiber, 230 calories, 1 g of fat and 18 g of protein. Lentils are also a source of the B complex of vitamins, phosphorus, calcium, iron and magnesium.
While plain lentils do not contain gluten, some packaged versions may include wheat or barely in the seasoning. Canned lentil soups may contain wheat-based noodles, pouches of lentil curry may be sweetened with barley malt syrup, and dry lentil soup or curry mixes may include wheat starch in the seasoning packets. Make a habit of reading the ingredient list on all packaged foods to ensure there are no gluten-containing ingredients.
Lentils lend themselves to an infinite number of preparations. Boil lentils in water or gluten-free broth for 20 to 30 minutes, until soft to the bite. You can combine them with carrots, celery, bay leaves and canned tomatoes for a gluten-free soup or add curry powder and onions for a gluten-free stew to serve with quinoa or brown rice. Saute lentil patties made with mashed lentils mixed with egg, seasoning and crushed gluten-free crackers and serve them over a green salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.