Culinary Handcuffs

One of my worst nightmares is discovering that I have developed an allergy to chocolate.  I cannot imagine never being able to enjoy my favorite indulgence again.  This morning I received an email from a member of our blogging group asking for recipes for a friend’s husband that has recently been given a laundry list of things he cannot have anymore due to health concerns.  Chocolate is the least of his worries.  No dairy, nuts, whole grains, sugar, salt, tomatoes, soy, tuna, potatoes, oranges, strawberries, the list went on and on.  She is at her wits end trying to make his new bland diet more palatable.  So a plea has gone out to our foodie community for recipes. 

On the list of allowable foods is quinoa which I just love.  Originating in South America, the Incas considered quinoa to be a sacred crop.  It contains essential amino acids that make it an unusually complete protein from the plant world.  It is similar to rice or couscous but it is not a grain since it does not come from the grass family.  It has a nutty flavor, is gluten free, and when cooked, the germ separates from the seed in a lovely curl.

A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta). As an alternative, one can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like white rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts).

Here is a tasty salad recipe using quinoa.

  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 cup bite sized pieces of snap peas
  • 1/8 diced onion (or green onion)
  • 1/8 cup fresh cherries or grapes

White Wine Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or rice wine)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey or agave
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preparation

Cook quinoa, cool and toss with red pepper, snap peas, onion, and cherries.

For white wine vinaigrette dressing, whisk together olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey. Add salt and pepper. Mix 2 tbsp dressing (or more to taste) into salad.

I did not see peppers on the banned or allowed list so I am hoping the next recipe is something she can use as well.  Capsaicin which gives peppers their heat, is also believed to have a myriad of health benefits including fighting cancer and preventing heart disease.  It is also a good way to spice up an otherwise bland diet. 

Dried Chili Pickle Relish

  • A good handful of dried chili peppers; anchos are great, but passilla or mulata will also work, as would any larger dried and not too spicy pepper (Great for homemade dried garden jalapenos!) Make sure to clean them off well.
  • 1 large white onion, sliced into wedges
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 of a cup of white vinegar
  • 1/3 of a cup of vegetable oil
  • Salt as needed
  1. Slice the chilis into narrow strips with a very sharp knife – or alternatively use kitchen scissors to cut them.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a non reactive bowl, season as needed with salt and let sit in the fridge overnight.
  3. Serve as a table garnish. This goes very well with pretty much any Mexican meal you can think of – but is particularly well matched to grilled meats.
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