Q is for Quinoa-Flake Fruit Crisp Topping

Pronounced keen-wa. It is a pseudocereal, which means the seeds are used like cereal grains, but the plant is not a true grass. You might not expect this, but quinoa is related to beets and spinach. Whole seeds, flakes and flour are eaten here. In some parts of the world, the greens are eaten also.

Quinoa is an ancient crop, considered sacred by the Incas. Christian Spanish conquistadors did not like that and banned quinoa. It has been a slow road back to popularity. And we can thank the gluten free diet for increased interest in delicious, nutritious quinoa.


quinoa-flower photo by net_efekt


Quinoa seeds have a natural coating called sopanins that taste soapy and bitter. It is a natural defense system that makes the seed distasteful to birds. They will not eat the crop in the field before it sprouts.

We do not like the taste of sopanins either and used to have to rinse the seeds with three changes of water. You could see the soapy bubbles disappear with each rinsing. But now, most commercially available quinoa is already rinsed for you. Modern day quinoa might qualify as convenience food!


Quinoa has more protein than any other grain, and it is complete protein.

The World’s Healthiest Foods notes: because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, this “grain” may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.  


quinoa-flour-flakes-and-seeds photo by vsimon

Seeds, Flakes and Flour

My regular grocery store stocks quinoa seeds, flakes, and flour. I use all of them. The seeds are my favorite though. The tiny circular seeds cook to a fluffy texture and pleasant mild flavor. I love the seeds for hot breakfast cereal, warm pilafs and cold salads. I will be posting some of these recipes in the future.

Quinoa seeds cook in only 15 minutes, much quicker than whole grain rice. You can use it in place of rice in many dishes. Quinoa comes in white and natural red colors. I have only used the white, which seems a more versatile color to me.

The flakes are often used for hot cereal. Some describe the flavor and texture as mild and smooth. Think baby’s first food, like pablum. Some, my husband, call it mushy. He prefers the texture of cooked oatmeal.

The flakes really shine in fruit crisp toppings. See the recipe below.

I use the flour in breads and other baked goods. I do find the flour strong tasting. If it is a very large percentage of the flour in the dish, it can taste a bit soapy. Or like a lingering flavor of too much baking soda. So I use it when I am adding other flavorful ingredients.


rhubarb-cherry-crisp-with-quinoa-flake-topping photo by vsimon

Summer Fruit Crisp

A summer fruit crisp is a tasty way to get acquainted with quinoa flakes. I use the topping for any number of fruits, singly and in combination.

Today we make rhubarb cherry crisp. You could just as easily use blueberries, peaches or apples. Use less sugar in the filling with sweeter fruit.

You can also use pretty much any whole grain gluten free flour you like.  But do not use soy flour, you will ruin the taste of perfectly good fruit.

You can bake the crisp in a medium pan, or use ramekins for individual servings. And the crisp freezes well. Make a lot and have some later in the week, or much later in the winter. I like to use pyrex containers with lids. The bottom is oven safe and the lid works great in the freezer. They are easy to stack too.

Rhubarb and Cherry Crisp

Serves 6


7/8 c sugar, divided

½ cup quinoa flakes

½ cup sorghum flour

½ cup nuts

¼ cup oil

6 cups total chopped rhubarb and tart cherries, in any combination

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

In a small bowl, thoroughly mix ½ cup sugar, quinoa flakes, sorghum flour, nuts and oil.

Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 inch oven safe glass or ceramic pan. Or six individual ramekins. Put in the fruit, and sprinkle on the remaining sugar. Crumble the topping over the fruit.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is toasty. Cool a bit before devouring, or you will burn your mouth. 🙂

Do you like quinoa as much as I do? What do you do with it?

Added 6-14-09 This rhubarb was the last of the season from our garden. I am happily submitting this post and recipe to Grow Your Own recipe roundup using our home grown produce. Hosted this time by Zora of gardenopolis.

P is for Potato-Oven Fries

When learning about the gluten free diet, one of the first things a person might be told is to substitute a plain baked potato for bread at dinner. You really cannot beat potatoes for comfort, simplicity, nutrition, versatility, availability and even cost. Yeah, something that is gluten free and cheap!

planting-potatoes photo by mike_warren


Did you know that potatoes have lots more potassium than a banana? They are also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, and iron. They have fiber and are fat free, until you add some.


Potatoes are delightful at any time of the day. In the morning, enjoy the sizzle of hash browns frying, or thready potato pancakes. At lunch, imagine the toasty aroma of oven-fries (see recipe below). How about tangy potato salad, crisp chips, or simple boiled potatoes?

At dinner serve fluffy baked potatoes, or twice-baked boats loaded with cheese and bacon, or roasted wedges with fragrant herbs.

Or consider quick microwaved spuds, mashed potatoes with rivulets of melted butter, smashed reds with bits of skin and cream cheese, scalloped in cream sauce, chunky soup, cheesy gratins, and on, and on. Stay tuned for more mouthwatering recipes.

potato-plant photo by cygnus921

And you may be continually amazed how many fun colors of potatoes there are. The flesh can be white, yellow, red and blue. The skin can be brown, red, yellow or blue. The tubers may be big or small, round or long and skinny. Bored with the same old, same old? No way.

The flesh of potatoes can be starchy or waxy. Starchy potatoes are best for baked potatoes since the cute little granules of starch fluff up so well. Waxy are best for potato salad, the smooth cubes hold their shape well and do not fall apart when mixed with the other ingredients.

We planted several kinds of potatoes this year. Including a new variety called Cranberry Red, the skin and flesh are both red. And Swedish Fingerlings, yellowish flesh in the shape of a fat finger.

Turning the fragrant earth to find buried potato treasure is a real summer treat. In July and August, we will let you know how our backyard potato harvest turns out.

red-and-white-potatoes photo by mike_warren

Availability and Cost

Fresh potatoes of some kind, especially white and red, are available year round. They cost as little as 25 cents per serving. Since there are so many ways to simply prepare a fresh potato, that is what I usually do.

Organic fresh potatoes are available and cost more than non-organic potatoes. If you eat a lot of potatoes, you might want to choose organic to reduce your exposure to chemicals.

I buy organic potatoes in 3-pound bags. That is quite a bit for the two of us and it takes a while for us to eat them all. I have to make sure they are in a very dark place to keep them from sprouting, since organic potatoes are not coated with an anti-sprout spray. It freaks me out when I open the cupboard and long wormy sprouts wave at me.

Processed potatoes are found throughout the grocery store. These include dehydrated, canned, refrigerated, and frozen potatoes. These cost more, and may or may not have gluten added. Be sure to read the label.


oven-fried-potatoes photo by vsimon

The Simplest Oven Fried Potatoes

1 medium potato per person, any kind

oil, I prefer canola

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut potatoes into sticks, thick or thin. I leave the skins on.

Put on a baking sheet. Using parchment paper or non-stick foil makes clean up a snap.

Drizzle with oil and massage it over all the surfaces of the potatoes. Use a lot of oil if you want more calories, use only a little if you want fewer calories.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how thick the sticks are and how crispy you like your potatoes. The skinny fries pictured took 30 minutes. There is no need to fuss turning the potatoes during baking, please leave them alone. They will brown on the bottom where they contact the pan. And in other spots on the top and sides.

Serve with ketchup if desired. Heinz and Annie’s Organic are gluten free, as are others. Again, read the label.

Please share. What is your favorite kind of potato, and your favorite way to eat them?

O is for Oat- Two Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

O, oats. Are you excited, or scared, about the possibilities? Oatmeal is no longer absolutely off limits. A few companies have gone to great lengths and expense to produce certified gluten free oats.

Bob’s Red Mill

Cream Hill Estates

Gifts of Nature

Gluten Free Oats

Only Oats

oats photo by andreadg

The commitment from planting the seeds to the final package on the store shelf is complete. They use certified seeds, dedicated land, harvesting equipment, trucks, mills and storage facilities. And the final product is tested to rule out cross contamination.

So, is your mouth watering thinking about crunchy granola, creamy steamy hot oatmeal, a grab and go energy bar, oatmeal raisin cookies or fruit crisps?

Oats certainly are a popular flavor and texture. They add wonderful body and moistness to baked goods. Oat based muffins and breads stay fresh for days, not hours like many gluten free kinds. And oats are very filling, a great way to start the day.

Nutritionally, oats are a good choice. They are high in fiber, thiamin, iron and magnesium.

But some folks with gluten intolerance are also intolerant of even gluten free oats. I suggest that you do not try oats until you have been successful with the gluten free diet long enough to feel well.

Then try no more than 1/4 cup of gluten free oats. Do not use the usual grocery store brands. Tricia Thompson, the Gluten Free Dietitian, has tested them and they are often contaminated. If you have no troubles, you can have oats again. Only you will be able to determine if oats work for you.

In the muffin recipe below, you can use your favorite gluten free flour blend. Or punch up the nutrition and use a single whole grain gluten free flour. This time I used sorghum, teff flour works well and makes them a darker brown color.     And I have not tried it yet, but I think buckwheat would work too.


gluten-free-carrot-oatmeal-muffin photo by vsimon

Two Carrot Oatmeal Muffins yield: 12 muffins

1 cup oatmeal

1 cup buttermilk

2 ½ oz jar baby food carrots

1 egg

¼ cup canola oil

1 cup gluten free flour

¾ cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon xanthan

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 ½ cups shredded carrot, packed into the measuring cup

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together oatmeal, buttermilk, baby food carrots, egg, and oil. Set aside for about 10 minutes to allow oatmeal to soften.

In a large bowl, mix together, flour, dark brown sugar, xanthan, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

To the flour mixture, add the oatmeal mixture, shredded carrots, raisins, and walnuts. Blend well.

Prepare muffin pans and allow batter to rest for 5-10 minutes. This gives the xanthan time to absorb some liquid and your muffins will raise better.

Scoop batter into muffin cups and bake for about 25 minutes.

Are oats trouble, or trouble free for you? Do you want more recipes with oats?