Define & Dine: Quinoa

My first obstacle with quinoa was how knowing the correct way to pronounce it. KEEN-wa. There you go. Not anything like it looks, huh?

Finding quinoa wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. The same local store I found the teff flour also carried the quinoa. Score!

Harvested seeds of homegrown chenopodium quinoa, source: wikipedia



  • The nutrient composition is very good compared with common cereals. Quinoa grains contain essential amino acids like lysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron (source: wikipedia)
  • Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. (source: wikipedia)
  • Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient “grain” once considered “the gold of the Incas.” (source: The World’s Healthiest Foods)
  • It is gluten-free! Yay!
  • The protein content of quinoa ranges from 10% to 18% making it an exceptional source of vegetarian protein. (source:
  • Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous. (source: wikipedia)

How To Use:

Most boxed/pre-packaged quinoa has already been pre-rinsed for convenience, and cooking instructions therefore suggest only a brief rinse before cooking, if at all. If quinoa has not been pre-rinsed, the first step is to remove the saponins, a process that requires either soaking the grain in water for a few hours, then changing the water and resoaking, or rinsing the quinoa in ample running water for several minutes in either a fine strainer or a cheesecloth. Removal of the saponin helps with digestion; the soapy nature of the compound makes it act as a laxative.

One cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups (or less) of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 10–15 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta). As an alternative, one can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like white rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts).

Vegetables and seasonings can also be added to make a wide range of dishes. Chicken or vegetable stock can be substituted for water during cooking, adding flavor. It is also suited to vegetable pilafs, complementing bitter greens like kale.

Quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin content.[19] In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: Only 2–4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, e.g., 12 hours with wheat.[citation needed] This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the grains, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.


 Quinoa Burger – This is the recipe I first made. It was soooo good! Even my extremely carnivorous husband ate it and loved it as a main course!

Spanish Style Quinoa

Simple Savory Quinoa

Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf

Curried Quinoa

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Mexican Quinoa Patties

Soaked Quinoa

So ends another edition of Define & Dine, a way to broaden your real food knowledge and put that new knowledge to use with some real food recipes.

Tune into next time when I investigate: Tapioca Starch/Flour. 

This post is a part of Real Foods Wednesdays hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop. Thanks Kelly!

AND Gluten Free Wednesdays, hosted by The Gluten Free Homemaker, Thanks Linda!

Birthdays, Birthing, and Keeping It Real {Food, That Is}

Tomorrow my third born is turning 3 years old. On the 28th, my oldest will be turning 9. Sometime in mid to late January I’m expecting the arrival of my fifth child via our first home birth. And of course, there’s Christmas in the mix too. Whew! I must admit, I’ve been tired and under a wee bit crazy amount of stress just learning to buy, plan, and cook real food and gluten-free food for every day eating for a family of six and keep up with life and farm work let alone trying to think about preparing special birthday food/treats or meal planning after the new baby arrives. But, a moms gotta do what a moms gotta do.


I made Healthy Indulgences, Healthy Chocolate Cake with a Secret this morning because it apparently has to sit for 8 hours after cooking for the very best flavor. It looks and smells delicious. It’s hard to believe it’s full of black beans. I’m hoping it’s just as hard to taste that it’s full of black beans. I’m going to taste test a small piece before bed to see for sure, though. If I hate it (which I’m hoping I won’t) I have a back up plan. ;)

I haven't bought any kind of Betty Crocker boxed mix in ages. But it's good to have a back-up plan.

I’m making chicken nuggets and homemade baked fries for dinner as my little guy requested. I’m excited about using my screwed up a loaf of gluten-free bread (picture big pregnant lady crying over hard bread brick a few days earlier) from earlier this week as bread crumbs for the nuggets.

Depending on how tomorrow goes, I’ll be able to better plan and prepare for my eldest’s birthday at the end of the month.


We keep Christmas simple and Christ-focused at our house so I’m not too stressed out about it. Our only decorations are a few snow men and our Willow Tree nativity. The children each get one modest gift along with a stocking filled with fun little toys and treats. I love it. :)

We are, however, going to and eating at my in-laws in the afternoon and they have no clue about gluten-free or real food. Most things are fake, processed, and about as un-real as food gets. I think if we stick to meat and veggies, we’ll be pretty safe. I hope. Perhaps, I’ll muster up enough energy to bring a (safe) dish to pass.


I’m thinking we’ll be doing a lot of reading, puzzles, lap books, arts/crafts, and simple stuff. There is always something to learn and I’m sure we’ll find plenty of teaching opportunities a midst all the chaos.


My husband rocks. He ordered the birthing pool (should be here this week), is planning on helping get the birthing  “nest ” in order for our home birth, and will also be going to be taking some time off after baby arrives and has agreed to help keep us on the real food and gluten-free road while I’m busy nursing and resting. All he asked from me is to work on a grocery and meal list for him to work from. I love that man! I’m hoping to pre-make and freeze a few things like homemade chicken nuggets, oven fries, meatballs, and some dessert type treats. I’ll probably depend on some boxed Annie’s gluten-free mac and cheese, too.

The birthing pool I'm getting: La Bassine. So excited!!!

Please pray God will continue to give me good health and energy the rest of the pregnancy as well as a safe, natural home delivery. I’m thankful that even though I don’t know how things are going to go that God is watching over us and has everything under control.

Proudly a part of Gluten-Free Wednesdays @ Gluten Free Homemaker

& Real Food Wednesday @ Kelly the Kitchen Kop

First Time Using Gluten-Free Flour Mix: Advice Needed!

This post is a part of Sunday School, hosted by Butter Believer. Get Real Food Schooled!

Before investing in too many varieties of new gluten-free flours I thought it would be a good idea to try out a gluten-free flour mix first. I picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix since I’ve been happy with the other Bob’s products I’ve purchased. And this afternoon I was feeling spunky enough to whip up some pumpkin spice muffins with my flour mix. Here’s what I did:

Gluten-free Pumpkin Spice Muffins

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease 9×5-inch non-stick loaf pan. For smaller loaves, use three 5×3 inch loaf pans.
  3. Cream together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl.
  4. Add flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and cinnamon to egg mixture, alternating with bananas.
  5. Beat until smooth. Batter will be somewhat soft. transfer to pan(s).
  6. Bake in twelve count greased muffin pan for about 15 minutes.

I wanted to show you a picture but my daughter lost the battery to my camera today. Hopefully the battery will turn up before the muffins are gone so I can show you how they looked. I can tell you that they fluffed up nice and smelled terrific; they looked a lot like “normal” muffins.

The taste…well, it wasn’t bad but the garbanzo bean flour in the Bob’s mix stood out quite a bit to me. I don’t know if that’s normal or not? My five-year-old must have noticed too because he politely offered it to his sister after just one small bite. Of course, she happily took it and scarfed it right down. That’s my girl. :)

I think I might need to add more sucanat or maple syrup to sweeten them up and cover up the bean-y flavor?Or maybe just a real sweet frosting to crown them will mask it?

Perhaps someone “out there” can help me out? I’d love some advice, please!

Should I be able to taste the beaniness of the bean flour in the baking mix?

Would increasing the sweetener lessen the bean flavor?

Is there a better baking mix product or recipe that will still produce good baking results but not be so beany tasting?

Guidelines for Gluten-Free Cooking/Baking

I haven’t done a whole heck of a lot of Gluten-free baking since every recipe I find contains some unique or oddly named ingredient I can’t find in the local store or Wal-Mart. Well, today my husband surprised me by coming home early from work to load up the whole family to make the hour or so drive to the Mennonite bulk food store to find some gluten-free baking goodies. Plus, the baby is going to be here in the next five or so weeks and this is probably the last time I’m going to feel like making a big trip like this for a while.

Now, normally I consider myself I pretty decent cook and baker but have been struggling with the weirdness of the gluten-free cooking/baking weird. I feel like I’m starting all over again with my cooking and baking skills. It’s a little bit overwhelming.

So why is gluten-free baking so much different?

Gluten holds moisture and binds food, so when you remove this, things start to unravel. This is why it is so important to include a binder when using gluten-free flours so the end result will be successful. It seems to be best to use two or more gluten-free flours together when substituting them for wheat flour. A mixture of gluten-free flours gives a better texture and flavor than just one on its own. When baking it is good to have two grainy or crumbly flours and a binding one. But there are some recipes that will work well with only one flour. (source:

Below is a list of guidelines via Weston A. Price Foundation ( that I found to help figure out how to approach gluten-free cooking/baking with a bit more confidence:


STEP ONE~ Choose 2 of the crumbly or grainy flours:

    1. Amaranth
    2. Coconut
    3. Corn
    4. Rice
    5. Millet


1. Good flavour for cakes, biscuits and pancakes. Always needs a binding flour with it. Needs to be soaked overnight in something acidic, like yoghurt, or lemon juice and water.

2. This is a fairly new flour. You can make your own with dessicated coconut processed in a food processor

3. Cornmeal needs to be soaked in lime water, rather than acids. Corn starch or flour can be blended with cornmeal to make corn breads or muffins. Corn is a common allergen.

4. Some people find brown rice hard to digest. White rice is often used as it’s easier to digest and rarely allergenic. It is pure starch and not high in nutrients. Either brown or white is good for thickening gravies, sauces and cream pies.

5. Tends to make breads dry and coarse so don’t use more than 1/5 of the flour mixture.

Quinoa: Quinoa needs thorough rinsing, and at least 8 hours soaking before being cooked.

STEP 2~ Add a binding flour:

    1. Buckwheat
    2. Arrowroot
    3. Tapioca flour
    4. Potato starch
    5. Potato flour
    6. Pea or pulse flours


1. Buckwheat groats can be sprouted, dried and then ground into flour that doesn’t need further soaking. But if you use ready bought flour, it will need to be soaked in something acid. Use in small amounts as it has a strong flavor and is sometimes difficult to digest.

2. Easy to digest, and the most nutritious of the white flours as it is not refined. A superior thickener.

3. Imparts the “chew factor,” excellent used in small quantities. Also good for coating anything that’s going to be fried. Again a refined starch and not high in nutrients.

4. Excellent for baking when used with other flours. It is a good thickening agent for cream soups. A refined starch and not high in nutrients.

5. Potato flour is different from potato starch.

6. Use in small quantities only, as they are better soaked.

Soy: Many gluten-free recipes use soy, but soy contains high levels of anti-nutrients and is difficult to digest.

PART 3~ And/or use 1-2 of these binders:

    1. Egg
    2. Guar gum
    3. Xantham gum
    4. Flaxseed “gel”
    5. Sago


3. Some people react to guar gum, so xantham is better. If still no go, try without it, it will just be a little heavier.

5. Good egg replacer in baking: Simmer 1/4 cup flax seeds in 3/4 cup water for 5-7 mins, till thick. Strain the seeds out in a cheesecloth lined strainer –you’ll need to squeeze it. Use 4 tablespoons for 1 egg. For extra lightness, whip the “gel” and fold through at the end of mixing.

PART 4~ Add 1-2 of these for flavor & texture & lower carbs (optional):

    1. Ground sesame seeds
    2. Ground flaxseed
    3. Ground crispy nuts
    4. Ground almonds


1. Makes a nice pizza base, with some flaxseed and beaten eggs.

2. Small amounts are nice in gluten-free bread

4. Many gluten-free recipes use ground almonds, but they are not soaked so the enzyme-inhibitors aren’t neutralized. Crispy nuts ground yourself are better. Macadamias and almonds are good for a neutral flavor.

~There’s also this pointer:

Some possible substitutes for 1 cup of wheat flour, that other people have used successfully:

  • 7/8 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 5/8 cup potato starch flour
  • 5/8 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup corn flour
  • 1 cup teff flour
  • 1/2 cup rice + 1/2 cup maize
  • 1 cup maize + 1 tbsp millet flour
  • 1/2 cup rice + 1/4 cup buckwheat + 1/4 cup chickpea (good for cakes and muffins)
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat + 1/2 cup potato
  • 1/2 cup quinoa + 1/2 cup potato
  • 3/4 cup amaranth flour + 1/4 cup potato flour
  • 3/4 cup Amaranth flour + 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cup Quinoa + 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cup Quinoa + 1/4 cup arrowroot
Whew! I realize that was a lot of information but it’s good to know what to use and how to use it since I don’t want to waste expensive ingredients and have a house full of hungry kids. :)
This post, also a part of Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade.

Fed Them: Teff Banana Pancakes

This post is proudly a part of Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade.

I’m pleased to announce my first experience making something with teff flour was a success! The recipe: Teff Banana Pancakes. I adapted and halved (I halved it just in case I had a kitchen fail using my expensive teff flour) the teff pancake recipe from Whole New Mom as follows for this morning’s breakfast:

Teff Banana Pancakes (Makes about 10 pancakes)

  • 3/4 cup teff flour

  • 1 1/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder

  • 1 Tablespoon honey

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 egg

  • 3/4 cup milk or buttermilk

  • 1 smashed banana

Preheat skillet to 325 degrees. Lightly oil with coconut oil. Mix together dry ingredients. Stir in wet ingredients. Pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Fry ‘em up and eat ‘em.

As you can see, my two littlest really enjoyed the pancakes. My older two wanted cereal. I’ll make them eat pancakes next time. ;)

Define & Dine: Teff Flour

During my grocery shopping trip last night we made a quick stop at our local grocery store hoping to score some reduced produce items or anything else real food or gluten-free. Not only was I able to score some cheap pineapple and bananas for the kiddos, I found a huge section of Bob’s Red Millproducts. But that’s not even the good news yet.  I happened to have my possession, a shiny red coupon for $8.00 off  a Bob’s Red Mill product. Yes! Yes! Yes! Slightly overwhelmed by all the choices, I went ahead and opted for Bob’s Red Mill Teff Flour. I’m not exactly sure why. I just did. I ended up paying only .39 cents for a bag of it! It wasn’t until I got home that I wondered,

“What exactly is this stuff and what do I do with it?”


Teff Flour


  • Teff is a tiny grain native to Ethiopia
  • It is naturally gluten free
  • It is high in fiber
  • It is nutrient dense
  • Teff should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place in tightly covered containers such as glass jars.
  • Cooked Teff can be kept in the refrigerator, but should be used within a few days.
  • Is iron rich:
To Use:
  • For recipes calling for all-purpose flour, substitute one-quarter teff flour
  • It can also be used as a thickening agent for soups and stews, gravies, and puddings:

(sources:, and


Teff Pancakes, Whole New Mom -  This will be the first recipe I’m going to try with my teff flour.

Teff Peanut Butter Cookies, Eat Nourishing

Ten Ways: Teff Recipes, Might Foods

Five Teff Recipes:

Teff Pie Crust,

Teff pie crust

  • 2 cups teff flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (do not use olive oil or any strongly flavored oil, I’d sub BUTTER or other GOOD FAT)

Mix ingredients together. Press dough into pie plate and prick with the tines of a fork. Pre-bake the crust at 375° for 10 minutes, then use this crust with your favorite pie recipe. It’s easy, it’s yummy and if you dissolve a little sugar in the water, the crust will be sweeter.

Teff Recipes, the Teff Co.

So ends my very first Define & Dine post. A way to broaden your real food knowledge and put that new knowledge to use with some real food recipes. I’m looking forward to trying a non intimidating recipe using teff like teff pancakes. I’m thinking they’ll be lunch today. Or maybe snack. Who knows? I’ll try and post the results of the recipe and what it was like working with teff flour for the first time.

Tune into next Wednesday’s Define & Dine: Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa).

This post is a part of Real Foods Wednesdays hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop. Thanks Kelly!

Gluten-Free: Where to Begin?!

I’m pretty sure my 3 year old, Gibby, is gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant. Two of my other children have me wondering whether they have a few issues with it too. Without giving T.M.I., their various poo issues are what has me most concerned about gluten sensitivity/intolerance. I was sort of hoping they’d grow out of it over time but my little Gibby seems to be growing more sensitive and intolerant of gluten as the months go on and I’m a bit concerned.

So, today is grocery shopping today and I’m not only on a mission to stick to real food purchases but now gluten-free purchases. I’ve spent some reading over some gluten-free bloggers recipes for ideas because I don’t know very much about gluten-free living and I’ve never purposely sought out or prepared gluten-free foods before. Thank goodness for these people and their killer blogs! Because of their awesomeness I know have a decent grocery list of real, gluten-free food options for the next week or two.

I think one of the best places for any gluten-free newbie to start is at Gluten Free Easily’s Tip Sheet Page. It is an insanely helpful list of resources for anyone getting start to the world of gluten-free. My favorites include:

  • Top 20 Things You Should Know About Gluten
  • 50+ GF Foods You Can Eat Today
  • 50+ Meals That Are gfe
  • 50+ gfe Sweet Treats
  • The gfe Pantry

Here are some of the other blogs I checked out (or want to check out soon) and recommend for anyone else on their real food, gluten-free quests.

The Celiac Family

Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom

The Gluten Free Chef (in particular the gluten free flours page)

Simply Sugar & Gluten Free

Easy to be Gluten Free

Gluten Free Goodness

Harris Whole Health

Gluten Free Easily

The Gluten Free Homemaker

Live Free, Gluten Free

Gluten Free on a Shoestring

The Spunky Coconut

Celiac Teen

The local Wal-Mart is our one and only destination tonight for shopping. Hopefully, I’ll find the things on my list there. I’ll post after our shopping trip to see what I found and how much damage the trip did to ye ol’ checking account.

This post is a part of the Living Well Blog Hop, hosted by Common Sense Homesteading 


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