Lentil flour is a cooking flour used in baked goods. Homemade lentil flour is a popular alternatives to store bought gluten free flours, or the gluten rich grain flours such as wheat, rye, and barley. Although you may find it suggested in gluten free baking recipes, you may be curious to know more.
Is lentil flour gluten free? Yes, sort of. While lentil powder itself is gluten free, store bought lentil flour tends to be mixed with wheat flour. So, in order to be totally safe as a celiac or gluten free diet enjoyer, be sure to find your own lentil flour recipe rather than relying on your supermarket.
Thankfully, homemade lentil flour is relatively easy to produce. Toasting lentils for 3-5 minutes (or baking them for 10-12 minutes), before grinding them into flour (taking 15-20 minutes break in between), is really a very simple process. Toasted lentil flour is also a bit more satisfying to taste.
You don’t need to be a master baker to pull off your own flour recipe, although images of massive mills grinding wheat into flour may have you thinking otherwise. Really all you need is a food processor, a skillet, and a baking sheet or a few baking trays. Oh, and lentils, obviously.
What are Lentils?
Lentils are a type of edible bean vegetable. It’s a lens-shaped annual plant with lens-shaped seeds. It grows to be around 40 cm in height, and the seeds are produced in pods with two seeds from each. Canada and India produce the bulk of the planet’s food crops, accounting for 58 percent of overall production.
Split lentils (sometimes with their hulls scraped) known as daal are commonly cooked into a thick curry or gravy that is served with rice or rotis in the Indian subcontinent’s cuisines, in which lentils are a staple. Lentils can also be enjoyed with some spice, as is common with Oriental cuisines.
Eating plain lentils can be quite a chore, so finding the right way to enjoy them is crucial. Depending on your taste buds, turmeric powder can coat your beans for a little kick of spice. It’s also optional, but reccomended, to toast your lentils. Un-toasted lentils tend to be less flavourful.
Different Types of Lentils
Like with many vegetables and fruits, lentils come in many forms. You may like one type of lentil, and despise another. So how do you know which type of lentil to choose? While we suggest a taste test of trial and error, let’s find out a bit more on these beans.
Brown lentils are the most common legume you’ll find in the shop. Sold in bags or in cans, the easy access to brown lentils makes them ideal for lentil based recipes. This includes your lentil flour recipes, that you may be looking to try at home.
Green lentils, if available, tend to be a cheaper alternative. Also known as French lentils, there is nothing wrong with using this colour for your homemade lentil flour bread recipe, or whatever other baking recipes you may be following.
Red lentils are less common on shop shelves. Instead, you’re more likely to find already baked goods containing them. Gluten free red lentil crackers are a favourite, using red roasted lentils as a substitute for the gluten rich proteins of other crackers.
No matter which bean you choose, always be sure to remove any discolored lentils when cooking on baking trays or toasting in other ways. Discolored lentils may cause stomach upsets, which are obviously best avoided even if they aren’t caused be celiac disease.
What is Lentil Flour?
Using the skin of dry lentil, most lentil flours grind the skin into a flour in a similar fashion to more typical grain flours. Wheat, barley, rye, all of them are ground in the same way as lentil flour. Of course there is variety, with the aforemention brown, green, and red lentils. Black lentils (which tend to be the smallest) and yellow lentils are also available.
As it is formed by a vegetable rather than a grain, lentil flour will need refrigeration. Store your homemade flour in an airtight container, so your lentil powder remains fresh and healthy in the chilled fridge. Although it can take only 3-5 minutes or 10-12 minutes to toast lentils, it will keep for a while.
If stored correctly in an airtight, moisture free container then lentil flour will last several months inside your fridge. If you’re still worried, then feel free to place the same airtight, moisture free container in the freezer instead, where it will last until you defrost it.
Nutrient Content of Lentil Flour
The contents of lentil, and thus lentil flour, can boost your immune system. They’re high in dietary fibre (helping promote healthy bowels and relieve constipation) and protein. They also support a healthy heart and cardio vascular system, so there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be trying to make lentil pasta with this flour.
What Diets are Suited for Lentil Flour?
While a gluten free diet is one option for those looking to lose weight, it’s not the only common dieting fad in the modern world. A number of different diets will tell you what to keep and what to avoid, and lentil flour isn’t suited to them all.
Suitable for a gluten free diet if prepared at home, lentils are also protein rich. This makes them perfect for a vegetarian plant based or high protein diet. So if you’re on a meat free diet and are looking for ways to keep fitting protein into your pallet, look no further than lentils.
The Keto diet, or ketogenic diet, prioritises healthy fats and protein over carbohydrates. While the rich protein content of lentil may make you assume that it will be keto friendly, the beans also contain a high carb count. Meaning you won’t be able to enjoy much lentil flour on keto.
A paleo diet of meats, fish, and select vegetables plays on our ancestry as hunter gatherers. Designed to resemble our evolutionary beginning, lentils are not very friendly to a paleo adherent. This is because the diet doesn’t favour beans and legume vegetables.