Giving Thanks for Gluten Free Grains in the Garden

Do you know anyone else who has grown any gluten free grains in their backyard garden? No? Neither do we.

That didn’t stop us. We planted amaranth, sorghum, teff, and flax this year. Just as in the rest of the garden, there were some successes and some we will not repeat.

Even though we will not plant most of these next year, we enjoyed trying them. We know our grains are organic. We know they are not contaminated with wheat. We built up our internal supply of vitamin D. 😉 Our pantry is full. We have a small plot of fertile land. These are all good things. Things we are very thankful for.

We encourage you to grow a garden, or to grow something next year. Please share with us what you grow. It is such a rewarding experience, and you will have much to be thankful for too.

I cook with all of these grains and seeds, and have posted before with recipes. I’ll add a garden review here, and you can click on links for previous posts.

amaranth flower

amaranth flower photo by vsimon


Amaranth is the clear winner here. From just a small packet, it produced nearly 2 pounds of seeds, harvested over 2 months. We cook the seeds for hot breakfast cereal. And pop them for a tiny version of popcorn.

Early in the season, we also harvested the leaves and stems. Steamed tender young stems taste just like asparagus! Later in the year the leaves and stems get too tough to eat.

amarnath leaves-stems 003

young amaranth leaves and stems photo by lsimon

Amaranth is also worthy of planting in the flower garden. Ours got 8 feet tall, with striking flowers.


I don’t really consider flax a gluten free grain. It turned out to be the same as flax I had grown in the flower garden. It has airy leaves, with pretty little sky blue flowers. The thought of harvesting it hadn’t occurred to me before.

Vince ordered it this year from Bountiful Gardens, where it was listed with grains. And I often add ground flax seed in gluten free baking. So he thinks of it as a gluten free grain.

flax plant with seed heads

flax gone to seed photo by vsimon

We didn’t get much of a harvest, only 3 oz. A ground squirrel was well fed though, he ate more than we did. It is far easier to buy flax seed in the store. And so we do.

White Seeded Popping Sorghum

We love sorghum, flour and syrup. The plant looks just like corn stalks with an exploded ear of corn at the top.


sorghum plant photo by vsimon

In our cold wet spring, it germinated very poorly. But once it took hold, it was fun to watch. We harvested over 4 pounds of seeds.

I won’t be making flour out of it. I don’t have the equipment and this really is not enough. We aren’t boiling down the stems for syrup either. That is just too hard core for me.

sorghum (9)

sorghum seeds, raw and cooked photo by vsimon

We have cooked the seeds in a slow cooker. It tastes just like corn, and smells just like cooked corn. The seeds are smaller, and creamy white.

It will be pleasant to wake up to a steamy, fragrant bowl of sorghum seeds for breakfast on a wintery morning.

They could be used for a grain side dish too. Like rice, or quinoa.

We tried popping them, without success, and despite the name. We tried several times, and tried several methods.

They did get toasty tasty though. I thought this could be a crunchy addition to trail mix. And we have a lot of seeds to use.

Still, no need to repeat these. We will buy our sorghum flour and syrup in the store next year. And we can live without the seeds.


The teff was sad. The teff grew well enough. It is short, only 3 feet tall. The leaves are soft and arching.

But the seeds are so tiny I don’t know how they are harvested. They just disappear. There are seeds in this picture. Really, there are. They are hard to see even up close.

teff plant (2)

teff plant with seeds photo by vsimon

We threshed the teff and got a whopping 1.2 ounces (1/4 cup) seed. And it is nearly impossible to clean the chaff away. If you blow on it, it goes, and so does the seed.

We will be buying teff seeds and flour in the store too.

Possibilities for next year

Maybe buckwheat, millet, and quinoa. We will keep you posted.

Update: Read Linda’s guest post on Mother Earth News.

Roasted Parmesan Cranberry Red Potatoes


parmesan roasted Cranberry Red Potatoes photo by lsimon

Cranberry Red seed potatoes called out to us this spring. Plant me, plant me!

We doubled the size of our garden this year, smack dab in the middle of the sunny back yard. So there was room for two bags of organic seed potatoes. The garden center had maybe a dozen oddball kinds. Reds, yellows, blue, and whites. We went for the Cranberry Reds and Swedish Fingerlings.

Cranberry Reds are red skinned outside and pink inside. The texture of the flesh is moist and smooth, like the common red potato you can get at the grocery store.

I was super anxious to start harvesting potatoes. I had always heard, “plant on Good Friday, harvest on the 4th of July”. My husband grew up on a farm and they planted potatoes in the huge family garden. He had never heard of this and thought it was way too early for our planting zone of 5.

With encouragement from me, he planted the seed potatoes earlier than he thought prudent. And no harm done. We harvested our first potatoes about the middle of July. They were very small, we enjoyed them, and let the rest keep on growing.


pink flowers on cranberry red potatoes 6-18-2009 photo by vsimon

most potatoes have white flowers

Mature Cranberry Reds are ugly potatoes. Many are lumpy. They have alligator skins, rough and crackly.  I am not sure I like the pink insides. Maybe I was hoping for more vibrant color. The inside color is variable. Some are quite pink, some are very pale, some are streaked.

They are supposed to be long keepers. That is very important with organic potatoes, since we do not spray them to prevent sprouting.

If they are firm and not stinky in January, I may look at them more kindly. I wonder if the inside color will change a bit.

Here is one of my favorite recipes for potatoes. The salty parmesan gets golden, crusty, crispy, fragrant. The insides get soft and smooth.

You can also use bakers instead of red potatoes. Really, all potatoes are good this way. Try it with cauliflower too, yum.

Parmesan Potatoes

Adapted from Everyday Foods

Serves 4

ingredients metric measures
8 medium sized red potatoes about .5 kg
1 egg white 1
1 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese 180 gm

oil, nonstick aluminum foil, or parchment paper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut potatoes into quarters, set aside.

In a large bowl, beat egg white until frothy.

Toss potatoes in egg white to cover thoroughly.

If any egg white is pooling in the bottom of the bowl, drain some off.

Toss potatoes with 1 cup of parmesan cheese.

Oil a rimmed baking sheet, or better yet, line it with nonstick foil or parchment.

Place potatoes in a single layer on the pan and cover with remaining cheese. It is OK to let the cheese scatter in the pan. These bits get especially crispy.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the cheese is golden and crispy.

Did you plant potatoes this year? Or use usual kinds from the store. Please tell us about them.

W is for Waffles- Quinoa Cocoa

We eat waffles often at our house. But rarely for breakfast. Too much fuss, too early in the bleary a.m. It is breakfast for dinner, or lunch. The waffles might be amaranth, buckwheat, corn, Montina, teff, or simply Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour. I use whatever I have. I started all of this long ago, with a buttermilk wheat recipe and experimented with every single gluten free flour I could get my hands on. It has also proven to be a nice way to use up bits of leftover flour, all mixed up. Every combo, of this and that, has been eagerly eaten.

waffles (2a)


photo by vsimon

The latest batches have gluten free and dairy free. Amazake works nicely, but it is expensive and hard to come by. Apple juice is a convenient and inexpensive solution. Gluten free, dairy free, both, any way, it is always a treat. Waffles with fruit and nuts is one of my very favorite meals.

Tuesday lunch in the garden

It was sunny and warm. Perfect for Quinoa Cocoa Waffles with chocolate syrup and raspberries picked from the back of our yard.

Sometimes I feel claustrophobic walking through our garden. The berry patch is huge, 30 feet by 15 feet. The canes reach to my shoulder and you must be careful not to inhale the clouds of mosquitoes that reside there. The amaranth is to my chin, just starting to bud. The pole bean tee-pees are seven feet tall and the vines are twirling together over the tops. Looking out over this lushness makes me feel rich. And peaceful. We have plenty, more than enough.

garden (3)

pole-bean-tee-pees photo by vsimon

So the simple waffles just enhanced my contentment. A light crispy crunch, rich chocolate syrup, bright tangy berries. Chocolate for lunch, overlooking abundance, what could be better?

Quinoa Cocoa Waffles

serves 2 metric measures
2 tablespoons cocoa 12 g
7/8 cup quinoa flour 110 g
1 tablespoon sugar 15 g
1 teaspoon baking powder 4 g
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 3 g
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup apple juice
3 g
180 ml
1 egg 50 g
2 tablespoons oil 30 ml

Preheat waffle maker.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees.

Put 2 tablespoons cocoa in a 1 cup dry measuring cup. Add quinoa flour to the top and level with a knife. You’ll have 7/8 of a cup of quinoa flour. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine well.

In a small bowl, whisk together apple juice, egg and oil.

Add juice mixture to quinoa flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Pour into the waffle maker and bake until the steam stops. Remove waffle from the maker and place right on the oven rack to keep crispy while the second waffle cooks.

Serve with your favorite chocolate syrup. I simply microwaved semisweet chocolate with some oil until it melted, for a super rich and low carb sauce.

These would be equally lovely with a peach sauce. What kind of waffles and sauce do you like best?

We are happy to submit this post to Andrea’s Recipes Grow Your Own recipe round up. GYO celebrates home grown foods, something we can all be proud of. Thanks Andrea for hosting!