E is for Eggs

You know the slogan, The Incredible, Edible Egg. I completely agree. And as long as you are not allergic to eggs, they are a workhorse ingredient in the gluten free diet.

Gluten free baked goods benefit from the flavor, protein, nutrition and moisture eggs provide. Breads, muffins and cakes rise higher, taste better, are less crumbly and stay fresh longer when eggs are added.

Eggs are also a budget friendly source of high quality protein. They offer great nutrition in a neat, naturally gluten free package.

In only 75 calories, one delicious whole egg has 13 essential nutrients including choline, folate, riboflavin, iron, zinc, and the antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin.

But what about that cholesterol bugaboo?

There are about 200 milligrams of cholesterol in the yolk. Some people recommend eating only the whites to avoid the cholesterol. But many of the egg’s incredible nutrients are found in the egg yolk, including choline, folate, easily absorbed iron, zinc, vitamins E, A and a bit of D. The yolk also includes healthy fats and almost half of the protein found in eggs.

I am not afraid of a little (or more) cholesterol. And I do not want to miss out the great flavor or the full range of nutrients in the yolk. I eat the whole egg, including the fat and cholesterol. I do not feel guilty, not one bit.

What kind of eggs are available?

The usual white or brown eggs that come from big producers fill refrigerated shelves at every US grocery store. And organic, free range, cage free, vegetarian and combinations there of are available.

I love, love, love truly free range eggs purchased at a local farm. It is fun to wait for the colorful hens to bob out of the road when I drive in. These hens are not vegetarian, they scarf up lots of bugs. Their beautiful eggs are hues of the palest blue or green, and brown. The yolks are almost orange.

These free range eggs are about four times more expensive than grocery store eggs though. In reality, I use both. Eggs are not available at this farm in the icy Wisconsin winter.  Since there are fewer bugs to eat, the hens lay fewer eggs when it is very cold.  And I cannot always get to the farm, alas, the grocery store is convenient.

 A word about egg safety

Eggs can be contaminated with salmonella, a bacteria that causes diarrhea. Who needs more of that? Salmonella can be on the shell and even inside the egg. You cannot count on simply washing the eggshell to get rid of it.

Salmonella is killed with heat. People who are immune compromised should eat only fully cooked eggs. My immune system is pretty good though, and I enjoy a slightly runny fried egg. I do not even consider this living dangerously.

May 27, 2009 I am adding a link to a blog post from Trautman Family Farms, where we buy free range eggs. Scott talks about buying and raising the hens. Trautmans “rescue” hens from a local organic laying supplier. Very interesting. http://www.localharvest.org/blog/15556/

B is for Buckwheat

At our house, we love breakfast for dinner. And 100% buckwheat waffles are often our go to choice. I do not use 16 different flours, just buckwheat flour. No need for gums either. I adapted a popular buckwheat and wheat pancake recipe so it is now gluten free and much, much lower in fat.
You can easily make pancakes with this recipe. I just think waffles are more fun and I do not mind taking a bit of extra time at dinner. I also like to fill all the little holes with tasty toppings. These buckwheat waffles are light and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside. Please do not let the color of the raw batter alarm you. It is gray with black specks. But it browns nicely as it cooks.
Like many whole foods, buckwheat is a nutrition powerhouse. One-half cup of flour is about 200 calories, only 2 grams fat, 6 grams fiber, and 7 grams high quality protein. It offers a wide range of nutrients. Notably, thiamin, niacin, B6, iron, copper, magnesium and manganese.
Best Buckwheat Buttermilk Waffles
Adapted from Buttermilk Pancakes ll at AllRecipes
Serves 2
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
2 tablespoons oil
Preheat waffle maker. And preheat oven to 150 degrees, or the lowest setting.
Mix dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl.
Mix liquid ingredients (buttermilk though oil) a medium bowl. Add to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
My waffle maker makes two 4.5 inch square Belgium waffles. Belgium waffles are thicker than standard waffles. I put one third of the batter into the maker three times. You might put more or less batter in at a time. Try not to overfill the wells or the batter will ooze out and make a big aggravating mess.
Cook waffles until steam no longer comes from the waffle machine. As each waffle is done, place in oven, right on the bare rack. This keeps them crispy.
Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer. They can be warmed in the toaster on a medium setting.
My favorite way to serve them is with some chocolate chips on top, all nice and melty. Then raspberry sauce, which are simply pureed berries from our garden that we freeze to use all year round. And some syrup, either sorghum or maple. Wow, what a treat.
The Worlds Healthiest Foods reports that regularly eating buckwheat helps control blood sugar. And it lowers total serum cholesterol, reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and improves the ratio of HDL (the good kind) to total cholesterol. Not bad for a silly looking seed.
Despite the wheat name, buckwheat is gluten free. The triangle shaped seeds are called groats, or kasha if they are roasted. Buckwheat is important in eastern European and Chinese cuisine. Today we feature a central European delight, Belgium waffles. You can also make simple All-American pancakes with the same recipe.

A is for Amaranth

Amaranth is an ancient crop making a new debut in the last 20 years. It is a tiny seed, mostly tan with a few black seeds mixed in. It has a mild flavor, similar to rice but without the rice aroma. And it is a nutritional powerhouse.

standing in amaranth

yours truly out standing in amaranth photo by vsimon

Ancient Aztec runners and warriors ate amaranth because it provided energy and endurance. Nutrition Data shows that 1-cup serving of cooked amaranth is about 250 calories, 4 grams fat, 5 grams fiber, and 9 gm protein. That will keep you fueled on your busy day.

It is also like taking a tasty supplement in a bowl. Certain minerals and vitamins are lacking in many gluten free foods. Not here. That same 1-cup serving of amaranth naturally provides about 30% of our iron, 10% of our calcium, 15% of our folate and 15% of our B6 minimum daily needs.

photo by lsimon

Start the day with creamy crunchy hot amaranth.

It is all about the texture. It is creamy as you expect hot cereal to be, with a pleasant lingering little crunch.

1 cup amaranth seeds

4 cups water

Put seeds and water in a saucepan and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. For even more iron, use a cast iron pan.

This recipe serves 4, and doubles well. Make enough for the week and you will easily have a quick satisfying breakfast. It thickens as it stands, so you may want to add more water before reheating. Top it with fruit, nuts and ground flax seeds for even more fiber, texture and flavor.

Use up leftover plain cooked amaranth in meatloaf or meatballs instead of gluten free breadcrumbs.

Or try popped amaranth seeds. You get light airy bits that look like tiny double snowballs stuck together. With wonderful toasty flavor and scent. Simply put a ¼-cup amaranth grains in a heavy saucepan covered with a lid. Bring heat to medium high and slide the pan side to side to shake up the grains. Once you hear a faint pop, you only need to cook for a minute or two to pop the seeds. They burn easily so remove from the heat quickly and pour into a cool bowl. They are yummy with milk as a cold cereal. Eat them quick for maximum crunch.

Updated 1-12-10 Interested in amaranth greens? Click here.

Interested in harvesting amaranth grains. Click here.