Quinoa Pilaf – Gluten Free, vegan, low FODMAP

I put up a pasta recipe before, suitable for those on the low FODMAP diet. I pretty much used the same recipe but used quinoa instead of pasta.

image

Quinoa Pilaf

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooked quinoa (Click here to read about preparing quinoa)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • Spring onions (green part only if low FODMAP)
  • Tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Other flavours you can use if you like are oregano, parsley, basil, cumin powder, fenugreek, garam masala, etc.

DIRECTIONS

  • In a saucepan, pour the olive oil and let it heat up
  • Add coriander powder, coriander leaves, and spring onions. Saute until fragrant
  • Add tomatoes. Stir it all and mix everything up so its distributed evenly. Do this for a few minutes until the tomatoes become soft.
  • Add some salt to taste
  • Toss in some quinoa and mix it all up so everything is nicely heated
  • Take the pan off heat and add olives
  • You can top it with broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans, etc.

ANOTHER IDEA

I just tried this and I’m eating it right now. It is phenomenal! Really really good! I used the leftover quinoa to make potato quinoa patties. Since there was a fair bit left over, the quinoa formed a sort of crust for the patties making them nice and crispy without breaking apart!

Quinoa

Quin-wha?

Quinoa

Quinoa

Glorious, wonderful quinoa! I had never heard of it. I never would have either, if gluten hadn’t decided to forsake me. I’m so glad I now know what quinoa is. And it is amazing.

Quinoa is a seed that behaves like a grain. It was the food of the Incan warriors, known for replenishing strength and building stamina. 1 cup of cooked quinoa has about 8g of protein, 3g of fat, and 5g of fibre. Wonderfood? I think so!

Also, since it swells up when it’s cooked, 1/4 cup of uncooked quinoa is equal to about a 1 whole cup when cooked!

I was at first terrified of having quinoa. Because I have lots of food sensitivities, I was worried it would make me ill. Quite a few people reported feeling sick after quinoa. I finally mustered up the courage to try it out. I felt fine. Hooray!

Then I tried eating soaked and uncooked quinoa by baking/frying it into tortillas and pancakes. I also kind of overdosed on it and had about 1-1.5 cups of soaked quinoa in less than 24 hours. Tummy no happy!

(To make things easier for reference, cooked quinoa is quinoa that has been rinsed, soaked and cooked. Soaked quinoa is uncooked yet, just soaked.)

So my advice to those of you who want to try quinoa is:

  • RINSE IT! There is no way I would ever eat it without rinsing and soaking it first. Quinoa is coated in saponins that appear soapy when rinsed. It can cause stomach aches. Most packaged quinoa comes pre-rinsed but you should always rinse it again to be on the safe side. Rinse it well for a couple of minutes in a mesh sieve and scrub with your fingers, moving the seeds around.
  • Soak it. I’m a little paranoid that I’ll get sick so I always like to take extra precautions. Some websites suggest soaking it for a few hours, but I soak it overnight in a bowl full of water and 1 tbsp lemon juice in it.
  • Then drain the water and rinse it thoroughly again till the water runs clear.
  • There are many ways to cook quinoa. I usually just cook it like rice. Put it in a pot of water, bring it to boil, cover the pot, and simmer until the water dries up. There are other ways of preparing quinoa but I haven’t tried them.
  • I would suggest not overdosing on it like I did. In my defense, I couldn’t help it – it’s so good! Like I mentioned above, a cup of quinoa contains about 5g of fiber. Also, I don’t know if this is crazy, but when I was cooking with only soaked quinoa (I added water and blended it to make a batter to cook with), the batter kind of reminded me of tahini which is made with sesame seeds. Too much of that upsets my tummy as well. I couldn’t help but wonder if too much soaked quinoa leads to an upset tummy. I remember I made tortillas out of them. After the second tortilla, I started feeling stomach cramps. I made quinoa pancakes the next morning and felt the cramps again. I felt ill for a few days after that, similar to how I react when I have too much tahini. Has that happened to any of you? Cooked quinoa suits just fine though. Maybe I just had too much. So yeah, I’d suggest start off with small servings and see how much your body can handle.

Mmm, delicious quinoa. Can’t wait to prepare it again in all it’s gluten free glory! It is also so versatile. You can have it like porridge, in pancakes, with potatoes, add it to your burger patties, BAKE CAKES with it, in smoothies, as a substitute for rice or pasta, as a dosa, as a tortilla… Sacre bleu, Quinoa, I think I love you.

P.S. Saw this AMAZING offer on Amazon for quinoa! Great if you’re like me and prefer to shop in bulk, especially quinoa which tends to be expensive. 12 packs for $38.05. That’s only $3.17 per pack! WOW! Click on the image below to purchase.

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

My Glutenscapades – Going gluten free

2 AM.

Late night munchies. Cookies? Gluten intolerant. Chocolate? Lactose intolerant. Air? Sounds delicious… meh.

Ripe banana with spots

Ripe banana with spots

So here I am, snacking on a banana, ready to tell you about why I am gluten free.

By the way, did you know that the black spots on bananas are a good thing? That’s when the bananas are ripe and sweet and less starchy – perfect to eat. Also, eat them in between meals – at least an hour before and an hour after.

In 2011, a few months after I graduated from University, I started experiencing anxiety, brain fog, and gastrointestinal symptoms which included stomach cramps and bloating. I also suffered from horrible back aches. Imagine being 21 years old and groaning every time you sit down or get up because of a swelling ache in your back. Or not being able to hang out with a couple friends because your tummy wasn’t feeling too good.

Oh yeah, and imagine things like that happening almost every single day.

I had no idea what was going on. I was feeling so sick all the time, wouldn’t go out, and I was feeling so out of it.

I lost a LOT of weight. I used to weigh around 50-51 kgs on average. I was down to 46 kgs. I went to see a nutritionist, gained all the weight back, but I was still feeling sick.

A friend suggested I take a closer look at my diet. 3451 google searches later, I began to wonder if I was lactose intolerant.

Farewell, dear dairy, since I must needs be gone. 

That’s what Shakespeare would have said if he were talking to dairy.

Symptoms got better but I still wasn’t feeling that great. It’s like when you’re running a temperature of 103 and it comes down to 102.

I kept a food diary recording everything I ate, the times I ate them, and the symptoms that followed. 2065 more google searches and I found a post by someone who was experiencing similar symptoms say it had reduced by going gluten free.

Exit gluten stage left.

It was so hard. But it was worth it. It was then that I realized…

Gluten is my nemesis.

Barely 2-3 days had passed since having cut out the obvious gluten from my diet and my symptoms were starting to go away. I thought what if I was just gluten intolerant but able to have lactose? I brought the lactose back in. Bad move. Symptoms returned but they weren’t as bad as the symptoms gluten brought on.

A few gluten/lactose free months passed and I wasn’t feeling perfect, but I definitely was feeling better. Then I thought let me try having some gluten and dairy again. I re-introduced the foods. Felt okay for the first couple days. I thought maybe it was all in my head. Maybe I’m not intolerant to these foods. Fast forward 2-3 weeks and I was cancelling plans again, staying home all the time because I was feeling sick, and the anxiety returned. It all happened in such subtle ways that I didn’t even realize I was slowly getting sicker and sicker day by day. By the end of the month, I decided I just didn’t want to eat gluten and dairy anymore. I just couldn’t deal with how sick it was making me feel.

I didn’t know back then that I should have gotten tested for Celiac Disease first to get that ruled out. So I’d encourage you to get tested before you decide to eliminate gluten completely.

I’m still not feeling completely better. Does that happen to the rest of you who are gluten intolerant? I don’t feel as good as I used to before I ever started experiencing these symptoms. I definitely feel better off gluten/dairy but is it normal to not feel as good as I did maybe 5 years ago?  I still feel sick and also suffer from brain fog from time to time. The FODMAPs diet has been really helping me out with minimizing that. Look into that if you’re dealing with any tummy troubles. It’s worth a shot!

I met a doctor here in Dubai who didn’t seem convinced that my problems were food related. I told him I’m pretty certain it has something to do with gluten and dairy but he didn’t seem to believe me. He just prescribed some Fybogel. That was pretty helpful actually, but I don’t know why it was so hard for him to believe it was a food issue. On a holiday to India earlier this year, a family friend recommended an allergist in Mumbai. After the intraderm testing process, where they basically inject you to test your sensitivity to food items, I discovered that I was sensitive to the following:

  • Bengal gram
  • Black pepper
  • Cabbage
  • Red lentils/Masoor dal
  • Garlic
  • Green Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Dairy
  • Gluten

FINALLY I HAD A DOCTOR’S REPORT SAYING I WAS SENSITIVE TO GLUTEN! For the longest time, no one believed me! Everyone kept saying it was in my head, and to slowly eat a little gluten/wheat every day and build up tolerance and I was just all NOOOOOOOOOOO!

The test results made so much sense. I realized that I had already eliminated almost all the foods on the list because I always had stomach aches after eating them. To be on the safe side, I have also eliminated corn and soy from my diet.

So what do I eat, you ask? Every day is a challenge really. On days I’m feeling off, I tend to stick to eating ‘safe’ foods. Yes I get bored doing that. But it’s just not worth risking the possibility of feeling sick. I eat rice, potatoes, rice pasta, quinoa, beans, vegetables, lentils and fruit. You’d be surprised at how versatile some of these items are!

Anyway, that’s about it for my glutenscapades. Cutting out gluten and dairy has been difficult, especially considering the fact that im a vegetarian. It’s been worth it though. As parting advice, I’d say just listen to your body. It always pays. If you’ve been feeling ill and can’t figure out why, it’s worth looking at your diet and changing things around a bit. If you suspect you might have some food sensitivities, it’s worth going spending some time trying to figure it out. You’ll just be so glad that you did!

Here We Go!

I have finally decided to set up a gluten free health, beauty and living blog. I’m certainly no expert on health or beauty (or even living, for that matter) but I am on a winding road trying to figure out what works best for me. I have been on a gluten free, dairy free vegetarian diet for a long, long time now. This means cooking, eating out, skincare products, nail polish and make-up are ALL accompanied by a warning sign. Did I mention how the lack of gluten free, allergy friendly products in Dubai makes this so much more difficult?

Yes, I’m struggling. I really really am.