Cooking for the Sensitive Gut

Canned lentils the exception that prove the rule

Most pulses are hard for people with a sensitive gut to tolerate because they contain carbohydrates known as oligosaccharides and fructans. These carbohydrates are not absorbed very well in the small intestine and can pull water into the gut and contribute to diarrhoea in some people.

In other people as these carbohydrates reach the large intestine they are fermented by bacteria and cause gas which can be painful.

It is a pity that most pulses are poorly tolerated by people with a sensitive gut because they are great to include in salads and many cooked dishes. They are a nutritious food, high in protein, low in fat and they contain a good source of dietary fibre. They also add texture and flavour to dishes.

The good news is there are two types of pulse that can be tolerated by most people with a sensitive gut if eaten in moderation. Canned lentils and canned chickpeas are low in oligosaccharides and fructans because they are water soluble and leach out during the canning process.

As a general rule most people will be able to tolerate a 40g serving of canned lentils or chickpeas at a meal. It is important to weigh the lentils or chickpeas so that you get the portion size right.

The other ingredients in this lentil, courgette and pecorino salad do not contain ingredients that upset most people. The pecorino is a very strong flavoured cheese and you do not need to use more than a slither or two. Parmesan or feta cheese are good substitutes if you cannot find pecorino.

Lentil, courgette and pecorino salad

Serves 4 


  • 4 small courgette or 8 baby courgettes, cut in half and wiped with a little olive oil
  • 200g canned lentils, rinsed and drained.
  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped,
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 8cm length of cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 40g pecorino or Parmesan, shaved into thin slithers
  • sprigs of garden herbs and edible flowers (optional)


Preheat  a griddle pan and place the courgettes to cook for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile place the lentils red pepper, tomato, chives, cucumber and  parsley in a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Give the lentil salad a good mix and leave on one side ready to assemble into the salad.

To assemble the salad.  Place two tablespoons of lentil mixture on each of four small plated. Top with the grilled courgette and slithers of pecorino cheese. Finish the dish with springs of fresh garden herbs and edible flowers if you have them.

For more information on IBS and the sensitive gut see www.theibsnetwork.orgIBSLogowithstrap March 2011


This entry was written by Joan Ransley and published on July 30, 2014 at 7:32 pm. It’s filed under Dinner, Snack, Starter and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Canned lentils the exception that prove the rule

  1. Nick Read on said:

    Brilliant! Well done. Nxxx

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