Recipe: Millet (or Rice) with Garlic Scapes

Millet with Garlic Scapes

Millet with Garlic Scapes

Problem:  You’re having rice for dinner, again.  We love brown rice because it’s easy and delicious.  But if you’re craving just a little pizzazz, here’s a solution:  Lightly Fried Millet with Seasonal Garlic Scapes.

1)  Vary It  When cooking a pot of grains for the week, try a different grain.  I’ve been playing with millet–and developing a taste for this fluffy yellow grain.  Cook 1 cup of grain in 2 1/4 cups of water.

2)  Fry It  There’s a reason we all like fried rice.  Added fat up the flavor quotient of almost any bland food.  But you don’t need to add a vat of fat to get the taste benefits.  I used just 1 Tbsp. of a good fat–safflower oil–for four servings.  Hint:  leftover, cold grains are best for frying, after they’ve dried out a bit.

3)  Brighten It  Garlic scapes and green garlic are in season and add wonderful color and flavor to plain old grains.  They’re easy to slice.  I tossed about 1 cup of them in oil before frying the grain.  Sauteeing just a minute or so takes off the raw edge.

4)  Crunch It  While sauteing the garlic, I went one step further (totally optional) and added a handful of pine nuts. Slivered almonds or chopped walnuts are a perfectly fine (and a lot less expensive) alternative.  Toasting for just a minute or so really brings out the flavor.

5)  Finish It  After sauteing the garlic and toasting the nuts, I added about 2 cups of cold millet.  Crumble before adding as it forms into a solid mass when refrigerated.  After adding, leave it alone a couple minutes to brown before turning.  It might pop just a little.  Cover briefly with a lid if necessary.  Once the grain is browned and slightly crispy, turn off the heat and stir in just 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil, if desired.  Serve and enjoy.

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A Boredom-Busting Meal for Mid-Winter

Easy, Fun, a Little Fancy + Vegetarian and Gluten Free

So you’re bored–with restaurant food (see previous post) as well as your weekly rotation of 5 standard meals.  If you can saute and deglaze, two simple Cooking Basics we learn about in Whole Kitchen classes, you can break out of that rut in a heartbeat.  Begin by thinking outside the meat-starch-vegetable triangle, as in this meal that lifted me out of my cold-weather blues:

  • Spinach Salad with Sauteed Pears
  • Whole Grain Toasts with Parsley Chevre
  • Spicy Mushroom and Walnut Saute
Spinach in Salad Spinner

As a cold-weather crop, spinach is reasonably-priced and sweet-tasting now. A salad spinner is perfect for washing out all the dirt that collect in spinach.

Spinach Salad with Sauteed Pears and Mushrooms

As the star of the meal, this dish requires the most time.  So start by preparing all its pieces, but hold off on the last step until everything else is ready to go.  Also, take the cheese from the refrigerator now so it can warm to room temperature.

Step 1–Prep Spinach

  • 1 bunch spinach

Cut into 1-2″ squares, wash and spin very dry.

Step 2–Prep Celeriac

  • 1 med. celeriac, shredded on box grater
  • 1-2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Combine celeriac and lemon juice in a small bowl and toss to coat, then toss with spinach.

Step 3–Saute Onion and Pear

  • 1 med. to lrg. red onion, sliced 1/4″ thick, then cut into 2″ lengths
  • 1 large Bosc pear, diced to 1/2″
Cleriac with Utiity Knife

While a tough-looking character, celeriac is also a long-storage vegetable that can be eaten raw for nice, wintertime crunch. Remove the skin by cutting away with a paring or utility knife.

  • For meat eaters:  1/4 lb turkey bacon, diced into 1/2″ pieces
    • 2-3 lrg. galic cloves, minced

Saute onion in 1 Tbsp. olive oil for 3-5 minutes, add pear and saute another 5-7 more minutes until everything is browned.  (If using bacon, add and saute 2-3 more minutes to cook through.)  Push everything to sides of pan, add a little oil to center of pan and saute garlic just 1-2 minutes.  Turn off heat and stir everything together.

Step 4–Deglaze Pan

  • 1/4 cup vegetable, mushroom or chicken broth
  • 1-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 Tbsp. good-quality olive oil or toasted walnut oil, as desired

Deglaze pan with broth, then add vinegar and oil and stir to mix thoroughly.  Reserve until serving time.

Step 5–Dress and Toss Salad

At serving time, if vegetables have cooled, re-warm just 1-2 minutes, then toss with spinach mixture along with:

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice, to taste

Spicy  Mushroom and Walnut Saute

Bosc Pears

Bosc pears, a winter storage fruit, are best when there is no longer a green hue to their skin and they "give" slightly when pressed gently from the sides. Buy several and store in a paper bag so you always have some of these sweet gems for winter cooking.

Chili flakes are added only to brighten up the mild taste of mushrooms for winter.   So consider sticking to the recommended amounts, even if you’re a chili lover.

  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced about 1/8 to 1/4″ thick
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Saute mushrooms in a large saute pan for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned but not shriveled.

  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. chili flakes, to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup walnut pieces

Push mushrooms to sides of pan, pour about 1 tsp. olive oil into center of pan and warm slightly.  Add chili flakes and cook about 30 seconds.  Immediately stir in walnuts and continue cooking about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nuts begin to brown and smell toasty.  Stir mushrooms and walnuts together, turn heat to lowest setting and keep warm until ready to serve.

Whole Grain Toasts with Parsley Chevre

This idea came via a comment on last month’s parsley article, where Jill Swenson shared another great use for parsley:  her favorite creamed cheese and parsley sandwich.  Since I can’t eat cow milk products, I substituted sheep milk chevre (from Sunny Breeze, a family farm in Craig, Colorado, sold at Vitamin Cottage).  Goat milk chevre would also work.  Because of their bold flavor,  very little is needed.

  • 2-3 oz. sheep or goat chevre or creamed cheese (warmed to room temperature)
  • 1-2 tsp. stoneground mustard
  • 1-2 Tbsp. plain soy milk
  • 2-4 Tbsp. chopped fresh, flat-leafed parsley
Mushrooms and Chili Flakes

Chili flakes are added only to brighten up the mild taste of mushrooms for winter. So consider sticking to the recommended amounts, even if you're a chili lover.

  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine cheese and mustard in a small mixing bowl and mash and blend with a large fork to combine, adding soy milk as needed to make a spreadable mixture.  (It helps if the cheese can be left at room temperature for an hour or so.)   Stir in parsley and add salt and pepper or more mustard and/or parsley, to taste.

  • 4-6 slices whole grain bread, toasted and cut in quarters

Serve bowl of spread on a tray, surrounded by toasts and small bowls of additional parsley and mustard to use as desired.

Read more about Superfood Parsley and check out the easy recipe for Parsley Pesto.

Learn how to quickly and easily make meals like this.  Learn basic cooking techniques like saute and deglaze, and also how to use new and different ingredients like chevre and bosc pears.  There’s all this and more in Whole Kitchen cooking classes.  New classes are starting soon.

Gluten-Free Bread

Since white bread products have little nutritional value, be sure to use a 100% (or at least partially) whole grain bread. We used gluten-free Vegan Oat Bread from Colorado Springs- based Outside the Breadbox, found at Vitamin Cottage. Note how they are cut in triangles for a little flair.

Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free Living—Beyond Recipes and Cookbooks


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“Do you have any wheat-free recipes?” As a kitchen and healthy eating coach, that’s usually the first thing I’m asked by people who have been prescribed a gluten or wheat-free diet.  It’s a completely understandable inquiry. We think “recipes” when someone tells us we need to eat differently, whether it’s to benefit the heart, to ease arthritis or work around food allergies.

Don’t get me wrong, cookbooks and recipes aren’t a bad starting point. But they are only part—and a relatively small part of the solution. What’s more, they’re the easy part.

The fact is, there are TONS of wheat-free recipes. They’re all over the place, including under your nose (and on your cookbook shelf): think of all the stir-fry recipes, chicken recipes, meat dishes, vegetable recipes, bean recipes, fruit salsas, stews and soups and rice dishes, to name just a few. A vast majority contain no wheat or gluten products. I have lived wheat free for 20 years and am far from starving—in fact I’m better fed now than ever.

The problem, of course, is that when we are newly diagnosed with a wheat or gluten allergy, we filter the news from our current eating perspective. Likely as not, that eating perspective revolves around A LOT of wheat products: pizza, pasta, tortillas, pancakes, toast, sandwiches, flour-thickened sauces, muffins, cakes, and so on and so forth. Only when you are given wheat or gluten diagnosis do you realize how wheat-centric our diet is.

To begin with, I certainly viewed our wheat (and dairy) diagnoses as tremendous burdens, but it didn’t take long to see what a hidden blessing they were. Being forced to think creatively about food, we had our eyes, minds and taste buds treated to a Technicolor world of wildly different and delicious new foods. Thank goodness we haven’t been saddled with a myopically monochromatic diet for the last 20 years!

Making the shift from tremendous burden to tantalizing blessing, I discovered, was attributable to a whole range of things. Yes, I found a few new recipes to help, but as important were things like:

–being organized enough to find those recipes when mealtime rolled around

–having the right ingredients in the frig

–being open to new tastes

–learning a few basic cooking skills to make decent meals

–knowing where to find gluten-free products at the grocery store

–being willing to invest time in setting up the kitchen for gluten-free cooking

–being willing to give meal making the attention and consideration it deserves, and

–being willing to exercise the parental vigor necessary to prevent a picky eaters from taking root in our house.

This last point is vitally important when kids are involved. If a child is raised from Day 1 with a broad range of tastes, then you will have no problem feeding him well on a gluten-free diet. But if, as so many children, he is allowed to dictate the food agenda and constrict his tastes to a narrow range, he will be consigned to a life of fighting his food limitations instead of reveling in the joy of all the delicious foods still available.

So that is why I encourage anyone newly diagnosed to inquire beyond recipes and cookbooks and examine the approaches and attitudes you bring to the table, so to speak.

Check out my tips on preventing picky eaters (email for a copy), look at how well your kitchen is organized for gluten-free cooking. My book, Take Control of Your Kitchen, can be a big help here. Notice if you have good mealtime habits, like planning ahead for meals, always having gluten-free snack bags for car trips, a lineup of school lunch options, etc. MOST IMPORTANTLY, develop a firm sense of purpose, i.e., that the time and effort you put into feeding you and/or your child is indeed a valuable and worthwhile use of your time.

For families, remember that taising a gluten-free child will be most successful and cause the least amount of stress if it is a family affair—and mom and dad will gain all the health benefits of the child’s good diet. Many parents worry about getting their child into the right schools, pushing them to excel in reading and math, preventing their brains from being corrupted by X-rated movies, monitoring their friends, and so. Yet we think nothing of racing through a fast food outlet and poisoning our children’s bodies with factory created food will few, if any, of the nutrients a growing body and mind needs. As parents, we must dare to be different and take the time to nourish ourselves and our children—body, brain and spirit—with wholesome food. Do not doubt that this is a valuable use of our time—despite what the fast food ads blare out.

I hope these insights will be of help if you face a wheat or gluten-free diagnosis. If you could benefit from some one-on-one coaching and assistance, I specialize in implementing wheat and diary free diets and we can work over the phone and Internet as well as in-person.

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