Food, Life and Love

Quin—What???

I have a secret…I love gluten! As the anti-gluten craze sweeps the nation, I can’t quite jump on the bandwagon. Pizza, Pasta, Bread, Crackers, Cookies, Cake, Beer they make the world go round. Think about your favorite foods and I bet at least one or two  of them involve all purpose flour. About two years ago, my doctor suggested I stop eating gluten for several months to see if I had a sensitivity. Knowing that I am a carbaholic I was determined to find palatable alternatives. There is just one problem with that quest…Gluten free products are just not the same. They have no flavor, they taste like cardboard, and it is like a chemistry project if you want to bake at home. I was about to give up but then I found the diamond of the GF world.

QUINOA!!! This little kernel of love has the fluffiness of couscous and the crunch of rice. In flour form it adds the right texture to pasta and cookies. It makes an amazing stir fry or the best grain in a veggie burger. Quinoa will make a G-Free existence a rosier place, shoot it will make life a rosier place!!

Tips for great Quinoa:1. 1:2 ratio…give or take. Dont be afraid to add liquid during the cooking process

2. You have to take the sheath off the grain. Place a large bowl in the sink with a fine mesh colander inside. Place the quinoa in the colander and fill the bowl with water. Take the quinoa and “scrub” it between both hands in batches. After about 5 minutes of “scrubbing” batches. Remove the colander from the bowl and drain.

3. Toast it up! Before rinsing the quinoa toast it dry in a dry pan over medium to low heat and toast for about 5-10 minutes. It will make poping noises and start to have a toasted fragrance. Stir occasionally so it does not burn. Once toasted, see tip 2.

4. Stock, Stock, Stock!! Of course you can use water but why not use stock? It adds flavor and depth to the dish. Make sure to season your stock with whatever spice you want. I love turmeric in my quinoa.

5. Cover it up. You are going to simmer your quinoa for about 20 minutes but it is best to put a lid on it. This will help the quinoa get fluffy. Once it is cooked add whatever veggies you want and enjoy.

Couple of suggestions for stir fry:

Southwest: Mix quinoa with sautéed onions, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and pepper jack cheese.

Mediterranean: Mix quinoa with feta cheese, tomatoes, black olives, red onions, and shrimp.

Indian: Mix quinoa with chickpeas, cumin, turmeric, green peas, and coconut milk.

Asian: Mix quinoa with fish sauce, siracha, snap peas, bean sprouts, Thai basil, and pickled dikon and carrot.

Cold Salad: Mix quinoa with toasted almonds, dried currants, mint, greek yogurt, and lemon juice.

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