Kaniwa, Tomato, and Basil Salad

In my opinion, eating a gluten-free diet is getting easier and easier. Not only are there many more gluten-free breads and other goodies on the market, but I even stumbled upon another wheat-free side dish option to put into rotation – kaniwa.

Kaniwa is a gluten-free “grain”, that like quinoa is actually an extremely nutritious, small seed. Similar in fashion, when this reddish-brown seed is cooked it develops a light outer ring.

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My experimenting with this grain has only just begun, but I think it will prove just as versatile as quinoa.  An easy way to try kaniwa is in my simple kaniwa, tomato, and basil salad.  After boiling the kaniwa in water for approximately 20 minutes, I stirred in some basil, grape tomatoes, and diced garlic.

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I then gave it a light dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and served it warm. It was a welcome change of pace from our typical dinner starches and quickly won the approval of my family. Whoo hoo! Another successful gluten-free dinnertime companion!

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Kaniwa, Tomato, and Basil Salad

1 cup kaniwa
3 cups water
4 cloves garlic, minced
0.25 ounces fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

Place the kaniwa and the water in a large sauce pan and boil over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the kaniwa is tender and chewy. Remove from the stove, drain any remaining water, and stir in the garlic, basil, oil, lemon juice, and salt. Serve immediately.

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Chile con Queso with Fresh Roasted Chilies and Cashew Cheese

I have been waiting all summer for fresh roasted chilies from my local farmers market. While I could roast peppers myself, you just can’t beat the chilies roasted over coals in a hopper. Last week I was informed that there was only one more week of waiting, so I put my name down for two bags of their medium Anaheim roasted chilies, assuming it was the quart sized bags they had last year.

What I hadn’t been told was that the list wasn’t for small bags of chilies, it was for bushels. BUSHELS. I had ordered TWO bushels of roasted chilies. I ended up leaving the market with one bushel, with the assurance that the other would go fast (which I have no doubt, seeing as how many people ask for them).

In case you are wondering, this is what a bushel of roasted chilies looks like . . . Getting through the entire fifteen pound bag may take a while, and will be why chilies may be a frequent ingredient in future postings.

bushelChilies

The first thing I wanted to make with my chilies was Chili con Queso, surprisingly with a cheese substitute – Cashew Cheese. Cheese makes up a generous portion of my diet, which is why eliminating dairy from my diet temporarily to rule out a food sensitivity was difficult, and the few dairy-free cheeses I tried didn’t satisfy my craving. Thankfully, my cheese famine was short lived, though I’m always on the lookout for a good alternative, since some of my good friends have had to maintain a longer dairy hiatus.

Imagine my surprise when at a food event this April I stumbled upon cashew cheese.The unique aspect about the Beyond Better® product I picked up is that it is the only dried version on the market, making it a simple option to pack with you that requires only water for reconstitution. It is a diary-free, gluten-free, organic cheese substitute that actually tastes like cheese!

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To make my Chili con queso, I cooked ½ pound of ground beef , then added the cashew queso dip and water,

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then I added a bit of the diced freshly roasted chilies and some diced cherry tomatoes . . .

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for a hearty, kid & husband approved, lunch of queso and blue corn chips.

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Now I just have to figure out what to do with the remaining 14 ½ pounds of chilies. . . .


 

Chili con Queso with Fresh Roasted Chilies and Cashew Cheese

½ lb ground beef
4 oz package of Beyond Better® Spicy Queso Dip
1 ½ cups water
½ cup freshly roasted chilies, diced
½ cup diced cherry tomatoes

Cook beef in a skillet over medium heat until fully cooked and browned, breaking it into small pieces. Add the queso dip and water and stir until no clumps remain. Heat for 1-2 minutes longer, until thick and bubbly. Stir in the chilies and tomatoes, and then remove from the heat. Serve with corn chips.

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No-Bake Amaranth & Currant Cookies

To add variety to my family’s diet and explore gluten free options, I have been trying different grains. Amaranth is a gluten free, pseudo-cereal (it’s actually a seed) that packs an impressive amount of nutrients – it is high in calcium, iron, potassium, and protein – in its small frame. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as bread, a substitute for other grains in salads or soups, and a porridge-like breakfast cereal. While I personally find that the earthy tones are a bit over powering when eaten like a porridge, I love the unique flavors it adds to these no-bake cookies.

You may ask why no-bake, and the simple answer is laziness. While this recipe could easily be tweaked if you are following a raw diet, I really just wanted to try a simple and quick recipe that could satisfy pestering kids or a craving for sweets. The added bonus is they are a guilt-free solution with very little sugary ingredients.

 

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The nutty flavor of the little yellow seeds (which are fun to play with in a sensory bin kind of way, according to my preschooler) is enhanced with a quick dry toasting.

toastedAmaranth

This nutty flavor is balanced with the buttery taste and mouthfeel of the almond meal and coconut oil. A bit of currants and almond slivers add just the right amount of texture.

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It is hard to believe that such a small amount of oil and honey can hold these cookies together, but it works. With no oven heating either, this recipe is going to be a year round favorite in my house.

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The true testament to their tastiness is the fact that my picky toddler kept begging for more, and my husband polished off the plate shortly thereafter. Perhaps I should have made a double batch.

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No Bake Amaranth & Currant Cookies

1/4 cup amaranth grain
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1/8 cup almond slivers
1/8 cup dried currants
1/2 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 ½ tablespoons honey

Pour the amaranth grain into a non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently. Toast the seeds until they turn a light brown color and a few seeds pop. Remove from the heat and pour the seeds into a large bowl.

Add the almond meal, amaranth flour, almond slivers, currants, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl and stir together.

Add the vanilla, coconut oil, and honey, then mix until the dough holds together (add more coconut oil if necessary to get the dough to hold together). Form into balls or cookie shaped disks, moving quickly to prevent the heat of your hands from melting the coconut oil.

You can eat them right away, but they firm up nicely after a few hours in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 dozen, 2-inch diameter cookies.

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