Category Archives: Gluten Free

Amaranth

Amaranth 101 – The Basics

Amaranth is a gluten-free seed that we usually treat as a grain. It has been used throughout the ages in many cultures and is increasing in popularity, especially as the need for gluten-free foods is increasing. If you’re not sure if amaranth is right for you, check the information below. Hopefully your questions will be answered!

Enjoy!
Judi

Amaranth 101 – The Basics

About Amaranth
Amaranth is among 60 different species of plants belonging to the amaranthus family. These plants are very tall with broad green leaves and brightly colored purple, red, or gold flowers. Three species are commonly grown for their edible seeds. Amaranth is a “pseudo cereal” meaning it’s not technically a cereal grain like wheat or oats, since it is in a different botanical family. However, it does have a similar nutritional profile, and the flowers of the amaranth plant have tiny grain-like starchy edible buds or seeds, which is why it is often treated as a grain.

Amaranth has been cultivated for 6,000 to 8,000 years and was a dietary mainstay for the ancient Inca, Mya, and Aztec civilizations. It has a long history in Mexico and is now grown around the world. Its flavor is described as earthy, nutty flavor, and peppery and it blends well in many dishes including cereals, breads, muffins, and pancakes. When ground into a flour, amaranth is usually blended with a grain to lighten its texture (the flour is very dense when used alone).

Nutrition Tidbits
Amaranth is gluten-free and rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants and nutrients, particularly manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, and iron. One cup of cooked amaranth has 250 calories with about 9 grams of protein, more protein then is typically found in other grains. Also, amaranth is considered to be a complete protein because it contains the amino acid lysine, which is usually in short supply in grains.

Research has shown that people with coronary heart disease and hypertension, who were given amaranth had a significant drop in their total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.

How to Select Amaranth
Amaranth is sold dried and prepackaged like rice. If purchasing amaranth from a bulk bin, the seeds should have a faintly sweet aroma or no aroma at all. If it smells musty or oily, it is old and should not be purchased.

How to Store Amaranth
When stored dry in an air-tight container, whole grain amaranth will keep for about 4 months on a cool, dry pantry shelf, and about 8 months when frozen.

Amaranth flour should be stored in a dry, air-tight container. When kept on a cool, dry pantry shelf, it will last about 2 months. In the freezer, it will keep for about 4 months.

How to Prepare Amaranth
After reviewing a lot of resources, it’s evident that some people rinse and sometimes soak amaranth before cooking it. However, rinsing and/or soaking amaranth before cooking is not mandatory. Furthermore, some resources state to bring water to a boil first, then add the seeds. Conversely, other resources state to add the seeds to the water first, then bring it to a boil. So, apparently there are a number of ways to prepare amaranth, and there is no hard and fast rule on how to cook it. However, the texture of the seeds after being cooked may differ between the various methods. Usually the inner portion of the seed will become soft with cooking, while the outer shell will remain crunchy.

Cooking/Serving Methods and Ideas
Amaranth can be popped for a crunchy snack, simmered, sprouted or steamed. The results can be quite different depending on how it is cooked, ranging from smooth and creamy to crunchy like popcorn.

Depending upon the desired outcome, the amount of water called for in a recipe will vary. To achieve an outcome where the cooked seed is more like quinoa or rice, use a LOT of water. To achieve a thick, gelatinous porridge, use less water, or as called for in the recipe.

The instructions on the container of amaranth that I purchased are as follows: In a medium sized pot, combine 1 cup of amaranth with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Let the amaranth rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. All the moisture should be absorbed. This makes about 2 cups of cooked amaranth. Note: This results in a cooked seed with a bit of a crunch on the outside.

Amaranth can be cooked in a similar way as pasta. Bring a lot of water to boil (ie 6 cups water to 1 cup amaranth), then add the amaranth to it. Cook and stir for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook amaranth or it will become gummy. Rinse, drain and enjoy. A lot of water is suggested because the cooking water will thicken from starch released during the cooking process. Cooked amaranth softens in the inside yet maintains some crunch on the outside.

Amaranth can be used as a thickener for sauces, soups and stews, or enjoyed as a creamy breakfast porridge. Amaranth can be used as a side dish in place of rice, couscous, risotto, or orzo pasta.

Here are some suggested ways to use amaranth, provided by https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-amaranth-64211

As a breakfast cereal. Simmered just right, amaranth has a sweetness and porridge-like consistency that makes it a delicious cereal. Use a ratio of 1-1/2 cups liquid to 1/2 cup amaranth. (Yield: 1-1/2 cups cooked.) Place amaranth and water or apple juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Keep a close eye on it towards the end and then serve it right away, as it will turn gummy and congeal if overcooked or left to sit. Add fruit, nuts, cinnamon, and/or sweetener.

Popped. Toast a tablespoon of amaranth seeds at a time in a hot, dry skillet. Continually shake or stir until the seeds pop. Eat them as a snack or use them to top soups, salads, and vegetable dishes. Popped amaranth can be used to bread tofu or meat.

Combined with other grains. When cooked with another grain, such as brown rice, amaranth doesn’t overwhelm with its sticky consistency but adds a nutty sweetness. Use a ratio of 1/4 cup amaranth to 3/4 cup other grain and cook as usual.

Added to soups and stews. Take advantage of amaranth’s gelatinous quality and use it to thicken soup. A couple of tablespoons added while the soup is cooking is usually sufficient.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Amaranth
Cardamom, chili, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, parsley, soy sauce, tamari

Other Foods That Go Well With Amaranth
Fruits and Sweets: Apples and apple juice, blueberries, chocolate, dried fruits, honey, lemon, maple syrup, orange, persimmons, raisins

Proteins, Nuts, Seeds: Almonds, beans (ie black, cannellini, pinto), chickpeas, pistachios, walnuts

Grains: Buckwheat, bulgur, corn, millet, quinoa, rice, wild rice

Vegetables: Bell peppers, cabbage, corn, greens, onions, scallions, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Dairy: Milk, yogurt

Other: Oil (ie olive)

Suggested Flavor Combinations
Amaranth + almonds + bulgur + herbs
Amaranth + apples + walnuts
Amaranth + black beans + sweet potatoes
Amaranth + cinnamon + maple syrup
Amaranth + corn + pinto beans + scallions
Amaranth + lemon + olive oil
Amaranth + quinoa + wild rice
Amaranth + raisins + milk

Amaranth goes particularly well in:
Baked goods (ie breads, cookies), casseroles, cereals, dishes mixed with other grains, Mexican cuisine, porridges, puddings, soups, South American cuisines, stews, veggie burgers

Recipe Links
Amaranth Polenta with Wild Mushrooms https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/amaranth-polenta-wild-mushrooms

Oat and Amaranth-Crusted Ham and Cheese Quiche https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/oat-and-amaranth-crusted-ham-and-cheese-quiche

Popped Amaranth Crunch https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/popped-amaranth-crunch

Creamy Cannellini Bean and Amaranth Soup https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/creamy-cannellini-bean-and-amaranth-soup

Amaranth Recipes https://www.foodandwine.com/grains/amaranth/amaranth-recipes#3

Amaranth Porridge with Caramelized Bananas and Pecans https://naturallyella.com/banana-pecan-amaranth-porridge/

Coriander Cauliflower Amaranth Salad https://naturallyella.com/amaranth-salad/

Amaranth Pudding with Coconut and Raisins https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/amaranth-pudding-coconut-and-raisins

Chocolate Amaranth Pudding https://cook.nourishevolution.com/2011/04/chocolate-amaranth-pudding/

Savory Amaranth Fritters https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/savory-amaranth-fritters/

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.

Resources
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/amaranth-health-benefits#section1

https://foodfacts.mercola.com/amaranth.html

https://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/grain-month-calendar/amaranth-may-grain-month

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10640/2

https://wholegrainscouncil.org/recipes/cooking-whole-grains/storing-whole-grains

Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Quinoa with Vegetables Over Tomatoes

Here’s an easy dish that makes a lovely presentation and is refreshing on a warm day. Because quinoa is a good source of protein, it can be used as a meatless main dish or also an excellent side dish. Either way, it’s yummy! Here’s a video showing how I made this dish. Below the video is the recipe!

Happy eating!!
Judi

Quinoa with Vegetables over Tomatoes
Makes about 4 Main Dish Servings
Makes about 6 Side Servings

1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
4 oz button mushrooms (about 6 each)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups + 2 Tbsp water
1-1/2 to 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2-4 medium fresh tomatoes, sliced into wedges*

Optional garnishes (use one or any combination desired):
Basil, parsley cilantro, sesame seeds, juice of ½ lemon or lime

In a medium-large saucepan (with a lid), heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté briefly. Add the garlic, carrot, and mushrooms, and sauté briefly until the vegetables begin to cook. Stir in the (uncooked) quinoa, parsley, salt and pepper, and allow the quinoa to toast briefly.

Add the water and stir to combine, making sure all the quinoa is in the water. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to bring everything to a boil. Turn the timer on for 15 minutes as soon as the water comes to a boil. Then turn the heat down to medium low and allow everything to simmer until the timer goes off.

Turn the burner off; stir in the spinach. Cover the pan and remove it from the hot burner. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes in the covered pan. Fluff with a fork and serve over tomato wedges that were arranged in a pinwheel design on the plate.

*Another option: Rather than serving the quinoa over tomato wedges, you could reserve one whole tomato per person and do the following: Slice off the top and remove the seeded area of the tomato. Spoon the quinoa mixture into the tomato, filling it to the top. Place the top of the tomato back in its place. Place filled tomatoes in a glass baking dish (not greased) and into a preheated 400F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes JUST begin to cook. This would make a lovely side dish with many types of meals. It’s delicious!

Cook Brown Rice in the Crock Pot…EASY!

Cooking brown rice in the crock pot is really easy and takes no effort at all. I have found it to be perfect every time following my simple recipe. The only key is that it’s not something to put on in the morning before you leave for work since it only takes a couple hours to cook. So, make sure you’ll be around to take it out when the time is right.

Here’s a video showing how to cook one cup of brown rice in the crock pot. The recipe is below the video.

Crock Pot Brown Rice (Basic Recipe)
Makes About 3 Cups

1 cup brown rice (short or long grain), rinsed and drained
2 cups water
Butter and salt (optional)

Lightly butter the inside of your crock pot, if desired. (This step not only adds flavor to the rice, but helps keep it from sticking to the crock. Alternately you could lightly coat it with the oil of your choice or use nonstick cooking spray.) Add 1 cup rinsed and drained brown rice of your choice. Add salt, if desired. Add 2 cups water and be sure all the rice is below the water.

Cover the crock pot and cook on high for two hours. Done!

After posting that video I experimented with expanding the recipe to cooking two cups of rice. Here’s my follow-up video on the adjusted recipe. The written recipe is below the video link.

Cook Brown Rice in the Crock Pot (Increased Recipe)
Makes about 6 Cups

2 cups brown rice (short or long grain), rinsed and drained
3-1/2 cups water
Butter and salt (optional)

Rub the inside of the crock pot with butter, if desired. (This optional step not only gives flavor to the rice, but helps to keep the rice from sticking to the sides of the crock. Alternately, you could rub it with the oil of your choice, or spray the crock with nonstick cooking spray.) Add the rinsed and drained rice and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Add the water and be sure all the rice is below the water.

Cover the crock pot and cook on high for 2 hours and 20-30 minutes. Done! Yield: About 6 cups

Here’s an added tip for successful rice cooking in the crock pot… Turn the crock pot off about 10 minutes early. Leave everything alone for the remaining time and the rice will finish cooking with the residual heat in the crock. This simple tip helps to keep the rice from sticking along the sides of the crock. Here’s a video on that…

Enjoy and I hope this helps!
Judi

EASY Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Here’s a simple recipe for a salad dressing I make for my husband VERY often. He loves it! I keep a bag of frozen raspberries in the freezer so they are handy whenever I need them.

I usually make up one serving at a time since it takes so little effort. The key is to get the raspberries out of the freezer before even starting to assemble your salad. Place what you need in a small bowl so they can thaw while you prepare your salad. By the time your salad is ready, the raspberries should be thawed and ready to be quickly made into a dressing. A link to my video on how I make this is above and the recipe is below.

Enjoy!
Judi

Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
(One Serving)

1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 to 1/3 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Place the frozen raspberries in a small bowl. Top with salt and sugar. Set the bowl aside to allow raspberries to thaw as you assemble your salad. When your salad is ready, finish making the dressing. The raspberries should be thawed by this time. Mash them up and stir in the salt and sugar with the spoon. Add the vinegar and oil; stir then drizzle over salad. Toss to combine. Enjoy!

Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
(Makes Four Servings)

1 cup frozen raspberries
1 tsp salt, or to taste
4 tsp sugar, or to taste
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place the raspberries, salt and sugar in a container with a lid. Set it aside until the raspberries thaw. After the berries are thawed, mash the berries while mixing in the sugar and salt with a spoon. Add the vinegar and oil, cover the container, and shake until mixed. The oil will have a tendency to rise to the top…this is normal. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Use within a few days.

Easy Simple Rice Patties or Rice Cakes

Rice is a staple of many diets around the world. Now, with many Americans becoming sensitive or intolerant to gluten, rice dishes are increasing in popularity in the West. In an effort to develop something simple, like a bread substitute to have with a meal, or a ready-to-go easy snack, I developed this simple, easy to make, rice patty. The following is a video showing how to make them. See below the video for the recipe!

To make the rice patties, you will need cooked short grain rice of your choice. Leftover rice that was refrigerated, or freshly cooked rice may be used…

Simple Rice Patties
Makes about 12

1 cup short grain rice of choice (uncooked)
2 cups water (or amount needed according to package directions)
Salt and butter to taste, optional

Cook the rice according to package directions, adding salt and butter if desired. Allow the rice to cool just a little so you can work with it with your hands.

Form the patties: Measure out 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cooked rice and place the rice in a ring about 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 inches in diameter. With a spoon, compress the rice into the ring, then lift the ring away from the formed patty.

If you don’t have a ring, you could use a small can with both top and bottom removed. Alternatively, you could form the patties with your hands placing the sticky rice between two sheets of plastic wrap (it may be too sticky to form the patties with your bare hands).

With a small spatula, remove the formed patty to the appropriate tray or sheet, according to how they will be cooked. Place the formed patties either on a plate or tray (if sauteing them on the stove), on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (if baking them in the oven), or on a fruit leather tray (if baking them in your dehydrator). Bake or saute according to directions below.

To cook them on the stove: Preheat a nonstick frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a little oil of your choice and briefly allow the oil to heat up. With a small spatula, carefully place the patties into the frying pan in the hot oil. Allow them to cook until the first side is golden brown. Carefully turn them over and allow the second side to brown. Then remove them to a serving tray and enjoy! If desired, they may be placed on paper towels to soak up any excess oil.

To bake them in a dehydrator: Place the formed patties on the fruit leather trays of your dehydrator. Bake at 145F for one hour, or until dry to the touch. Turn the patties over and continue cooking for another hour at the same temperature, until dry to the touch. The goal is to have them dry to the touch and easy to handle, but still moist inside. They should not be completely dried out in the process.

To bake them in your oven: Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature. Place the baking sheet with the formed patties on parchment paper on a rack in the middle of your oven. Allow them to bake until dry to the touch. Flip the patties over and continue baking them until the second side is dry to the touch. They should not be completely dried out…there should be moisture inside. The baking time will vary according to the temperature of your oven, so they will need to be monitored closely when baking these for the first time to determine the baking time needed with your specific oven.

Store your cooked patties in a covered container in the refrigerator. Enjoy them within 4 days.

Enjoy them as a bread substitute with a meal or a simple snack. They can be topped with softened butter, and eaten like that or even sprinkled with some herbs, or topped with a little nut butter and some jam or jelly, a little hummus, or eaten just plain. Use your imagination!

See also my original videos on how to make these delicious rice patties…

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix

Review of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix

For anyone who must eat gluten free and who loves bread, life can be extremely challenging. Ready-to-eat gluten free breads are tasteless, often dry, and don’t have quite the texture you’re expecting. Homemade recipes often turn out crumbly and don’t hold together like bread should. And never mind the flavor…oh my!

Yet, gluten free options are growing in the marketplace. And that’s to be expected…the demand is growing for assorted reasons. After being disappointed about gluten free recipes and options many times over, I decided to try once again to enjoy bread, and review the product at the same time.

Today’s test is on Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix. (Please note that I have no connections with the Bob’s Red Mill company, other than buying their products at the supermarket.) Here’s my two cents…

Price. First of all the price seems hefty, at just under $5 a bag where I purchased it. However, when comparing it to the price of ready-to-eat gluten free loaves, it was comparable. So I suppose that’s about all one could ask.

“Hidden” raisins. When I picked up the package I couldn’t see any raisins. No matter how I jostled the bag around I couldn’t see any raisins, so I guessed they were in a separate pack inside, even though the directions didn’t mention any raisin package and they weren’t among the added ingredients I needed. Well, the raisins were there…just “hidden.” When I emptied the package into my mixing bowl, the raisins were there, and they were plentiful! They were well coated with the flour mixture, so they just weren’t visible while in the bag. Thanks, Bob!

Ingredients. The bag includes a separate yeast package, which is to be expected. Other than that, you add warm water, eggs and oil, in a specific order, proofing the yeast first. Very reasonable and most people would have those few ingredients on hand.

Ease of mixing. The instructions recommend using a stand mixer, which I have. With that appliance, the ingredients blended extremely easily and quickly into a smooth but rather thick batter. Without a stand mixer, it will likely involve  a lot of hand mixing to achieve the same smooth texture achieved with the stand mixer. The package says it will be like cake batter. No so to me. IF it was cake batter, it’s so thick I expect you’d have a really dry cake on your hands. It IS smooth like cake batter, but don’t expect it to be as thin because it’s much thicker than that.

Raisin Bread Ready to Rise

Raisin Bread Ready to Rise

Baking pan. The instructions call for a greased 9×5 nonstick loaf pan. I do not have a nonstick loaf pan. Instead I have a good quality aluminum loaf pan. With that, I greased it well with a pat of real butter and hoped for the best. No issues…the bread released easily after baking without any sticking whatsoever. Yeah!

Rise time. The instructions call for allowing the bread to rise in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes until the dough is level with the top of the pan. Mine took 53 minutes to reach that point. So, Bob is “right on” here.

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Baking time. Bob calls for allowing the bread to bake for 60 to 65 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 205°F. This bit of instruction may present issues with some people who don’t have an instant read thermometer (which in my life, is a kitchen essential). I baked the bread for 60 minutes and noticed it had pulled away from the sides of the pan. The internal temperature was close. I declared it to be done.

Cover with aluminum foil during baking. The instructions call for covering the loaf with aluminum foil while baking after it begins to brown. I did not have any foil at the time, so I baked it without the foil. I noticed that the bread was nicely browned when it was finished baking…not too dark. However, the top was very tough and dry. It was hard to poke the thermometer through the top of the bread to test the temperature. SO, apparently the foil recommendation is there not for browning, but for maintaining moisture in the loaf. I suggest you use the foil!

Sliced Raisin Bread

Sliced Raisin Bread

Allow bread to cool before slicing. This is a standard recommendation with all baked breads, and it’s no different here. If you cut bread while it’s hot (as delicious as it is), moisture escapes through the cut section and the bread will be dryer than it would have been otherwise. So, give it time to cool before slicing.

Ease of slicing and bread texture. To my absolute delight, this bread sliced easily despite the tough top crust (from my not using foil during the baking). The slices stayed together and didn’t fall apart as so often happens with homemade gluten free bread. The slices even looked like regular bread, or at least they were a very close second. Even the tough top crust was easy to slice with my serrated bread knife. Thanks again, Bob!

Taste. The taste was fair to me, not absolutely great and wonderful. To my surprise, the bread was moist, so that was a real plus. First I tasted it plain with nothing on it. Secondly, I toasted the rest of the slice and put (real) butter on it. It toasted well in that it browned nicely and held up during toasting. However even with butter, the taste was still a little bland. To me (and maybe not to you), it needed a little more cinnamon to give it a flavor boost. Gluten free flours are very tasteless and it’s often necessary to boost up flavorings to give the baked goods the flavor you’d expect. More cinnamon would have masked the bland flavor of the flours/starches used in the mix.

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Overall. Overall, I think this is a good product and I will buy it again. It does take some time to make in that it’s a slow riser and slow baker. However, as long as you’re home, you can do other things during the down times. The price is comparable to other gluten free breads and mixes that are available, so it’s not unreasonable. The flavor could stand some improvement, but that’s likely to be said about all and any gluten free baked goods. A little cinnamon and sugar on it will go a long way in making you feel like you’re eating regular raisin bread.

Thank you, Bob!
Judi 🙂

Gluten free? AVOID “herb rice” in restaurants!

Many people have gone gluten free by choice. Others MUST choose gluten free options for health reasons. I fit into the later category, although I haven’t been that way my entire life. In recent years I learned I developed a serious health issue that is triggered by eating anything with gluten in it. Hence, I’ve become gluten free. This is NOT a choice for me.

Eating a gluten free meal becomes very challenging when faced with eating out in restaurants. This is particularly so when faced with menu items that appear to be gluten free. One case in point is “herb rice.” I would expect “herb rice” to be rice mixed with specific herbs and flavorings to make a delicious gluten free dish. However, many restaurants serve an “herb rice blend” that is actually a mix of rice, flavorings and orzo, a tiny pasta made from wheat. THAT’S the problem.

Unfortunately, many restaurant workers, “servers” in particular, are uninformed as to what their “herb rice” actually contains. They’re under the impression that it’s just flavored rice. I have been faced with this TWICE now since I’ve been gluten free. Note that I have nothing against the rice blends they use…they’re actually delicious. HOWEVER, they’re not just rice…they’re NOT gluten free. And with the innocent ignorance of waiters/waitresses, wary customers may be served foods they shouldn’t eat. My personal experiences are cases in point.

First, years back when I newly discovered that I should avoid wheat, I was at a restaurant/bar-grill. I choose something with “herb rice” in it, innocently thinking it was just rice. I asked the waitress if it was just rice and gluten free. She insisted that it was just rice, so I ordered it. After eating about half of it, I realized it had orzo in it…wheat pasta. When I spoke with the waitress about it and said I couldn’t eat the dish, she still insisted that it didn’t contain wheat and was only rice. We had a bit of an argument and she finally brought me the box it came in. Of course, when reading the ingredients list, wheat pasta was listed as one of the components (I’m not ignorant when it comes to food and it didn’t take much to find a wheat product in the ingredients list). When I brought this to her attention and asked for something else to replace the rice, we settled on refried beans. She was obviously not happy with me. I was brought a blob of refried beans, straight out of the can and unheated. I told the manager about the episode when we paid for the meal and I got little response in return. Needless to say, we’ve never been back there again.

Secondly, just last night we were at a different restaurant and they presented us with their new spring/summer menu. A wonderful dish was listed and I opted for it. Again, it was served with “herb rice.” I asked the waitress about it and she was very polite in saying she thought it was just rice, but wasn’t certain. I opted for hash browns instead of the rice. (They were out of the rice blend anyway and I was already planning on ordering hash browns since I suspected the “rice” was not just rice.) Nevertheless, the waitress DID offer information for me…the brand name of the blend. I looked it up and here’s the ingredients list…

Parboiled long grain rice, orzo (macaroni product made from wheat flour), salt, autolyzed yeast extract*, onions*, garlic*, turmeric spice which imparts color.

*dried
CONTAINS WHEAT INGREDIENTS

I’m thankful that the waitress was kind enough to at least offer the information to me so I could check for myself. I also appreciated her humbleness in admitting she was not certain of the ingredients. Unfortunately, apparently restaurant owners and chefs don’t inform their workers about these critical aspects of their food. For most patrons, it’s not an issue at all. But for those who MUST avoid certain ingredients, it’s important for the wait staff to be knowledgeable of what’s being served. Sadly, that’s usually not the case, so it’s up to the patron to be informed and wary of what they order.

Unless you really know the restaurant and how they prepare foods, wait for the herb rice until you get home and make it yourself!! Don’t order it in a restaurant.

I hope this information helps someone out there to avoid ordering some food that can cause health issues. Again, if you can eat gluten, the herb rice blend is a delicious option. But if gluten presents a problem, don’t be fooled by the name. It’s not just flavored rice.

Best wishes to all and happy eating,
Judi