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Where in the World is Carol?

Carol's in the kitchen, cooking up recipes for and

Carol's book, Gluten-Free 101, won 1st prize in the Cookbooks-General category of USA Best Book Awards.

August 20, 2015: 5-8 PM Book-signing for Art Hop at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Monument, CO

September 26-27, 2015: Book-signing at Holy Cross Abbey Winery Fall Festival, Canon City, CO

Welcome to Carol Fenster Cooks!

Welcome to Carol Fenster Cooks!

I have had a love affair with food since I was a small child.  But I didn’t understand that it was the very food I loved that made me ill. When I learned that gluten was the culprit, I left my corporate job to start Savory Palate, Inc. where I specialize in gluten-free, allergen-free, and vegetarian/vegan cooking. I believe that eating food is the most profound thing we do to our bodies each and every day. So my mission is to help everyone eat well and I love my job!

Mango Salsa

One of my favorite “go-to” meals is this colorful Mango Salsa, served on top of many different entrees.

Colorful Mango Salsa

Colorful Mango Salsa

For example, I use it on grilled fish (especially salmon but great on halibut or sea bass). I like it on chicken and pork, too. It’s healthy, beautifully colorful, and extremely healthy because of the mango and all those veggies.

It is also an impressive way to entertain because of all those gorgeous colors. It is best when made about an hour before serving so the mango holds its shape nicely.

I prefer to use a mango that is only slightly ripe, rather than one that is fully ripe because it dices more neatly and stays firmer, rather than getting mushy. Enjoy!


Mango Salsa
By Carol Fenster
Serve this colorful salsa on top of entrees for a beautiful, healthy meal.

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
½ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

About 1 hour prior to eating, combine salsa ingredients in small bowl. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

Summertime Reading from Carol Fenster

To me, one of summer’s greatest pleasures is curling up with a great book. With just a few weeks of summer left, take a look at my recent finds, choose one (or more), and lose yourself in a good story. I only give you short descriptions for these books—I don’t want to spoil the discovery for you.

The Beekeeper’s’ Lament: How One Man and Half a Billion Honey Bees Help Feed America by Hannah Nordhaus (2011)
I will never view honey the same way, ever again. Did you know that one honey bee is responsible for only 1/12 teaspoon of honey during its entire lifetime? This is a fascinating look at how beekeepers transport honey bees from region to region, wherever they are needed, to pollinate our food supply and the precarious situation our honeybees are in.

Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin (2015)
The author cooks her way through 4 years of international meals, but along the way tells her sad story of growing up without being close to her birth mother. The 4-year cooking endeavor morphed into her blog, Global Travel Adventures.

Driving Hungry: A Memoir by Layne Mosler (2015)
Asking a taxi driver to recommend a restaurant seems risky, but that’s exactly what the author does in 3 countries (U.S., Germany, and Argentina) to find authentic places that she then writes about in her blog, Taxi Gourmet. She even becomes a taxi driver in New York City, which takes guts!!!

Three Novels called “A Maine Clambake Mystery” by Barbara Ross
Read them sequentially so you have the backstory in mind as you read each subsequent novel.
Clammed Up (2013)
Boiled Over (2014)
Musseled Out (2015)
These three novels are “culinary mysteries” set in a harbor town on the Maine Coast, with each novel focusing on a murder that the heroine helps the police to solve. Easy reading.

My Organic Life: How a Pioneering Chef Helped Shape the Way We Eat Today by Nora Pouillon with Laura Fraser (2015)
The founder of Restaurant Nora and Asia Nora (now closed) in Washington, DC shares her life story as well as her philosophy about why it is important to choose organic foods. I dined in both of her restaurants and each was a memorable experience.

Three Novels called “A Baker’s Treat Mystery” by Nancy J. Parra
Read them sequentially so you have the backstory in mind as you read each subsequent novel.
Gluten for Punishment (2013)
Murder Gone A-Rye (2014)
Flourless to Stop Him (2015)
These three novels are set in a gluten-free bakery in the wheat-country of small-town Kansas and the owner-baker helps the local authorities solve the latest murder. These are the first culinary mysteries (sometimes called “cozies) that I know of with a gluten-free theme. Hopefully, we will see more!

More Books –Without a Food Theme–But Good Reads Anyway
The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay by Andrea Gillies (2014)
A very well-written novel, set in Scotland and a Greek island,that unfolds expertly to keep you enthralled. I couldn’t put it down, so be prepared to be drawn into the story.

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner (2014)
Two interconnected stories, each nearly a century apart, weave together with one common thread in this novel: a beautiful scarf embroidered with marigolds. Expertly written and hard to put down, I was as impressed by the story as I was by how well the author wove the two stories together.

The Rocks by Peter Nichols (2015)
Set on the island of Mallorca in a hotel called The Rocks, this novel starts with the ending of the book and then works backwards to unfold the story that leads to the ending. Be prepared to get caught up in the story and the beautiful island of Mallorca is nice too.

Getting Saucy: Savory Sauces to Liven Up Your Food

When I was a child, I didn’t know what a sauce was. Except for the gravy on our chicken-fried steaks and mashed potatoes, our food was “salted and peppered” and nothing more.

Chimichurri made from fresh herbs.

Carol’s version of Chimichurri made from fresh herbs.

However, once I grew up and left home my palate was exposed to a broader range of flavors and I discovered the wonders of sauces.

Today, I am a huge fan of sauces and appreciate how they turn even the most mundane pork chop… or chicken breast…or steak… into a gourmet experience.

So, when I saw this article on sauces in one of my favorite magazines, Cooking Light (I’m a charter subscriber and edited one of their gluten-free cookbooks) it spoke my language! Plus, the sauces are gluten-free (use gluten-free crackers instead of saltines in the Aji Amarillo Sauce)!

One of my favorite sauces from this article is the Argentine-based Chimichurri Sauce (see photo) which is parsley and herb-based and perfect on grilled steak or roasted vegetables.

Or try these other sauces from the magazine’s August, 2015 issue, page 132:
Tzatziki Sauce- cucumber-dill flavored, perfect on baked potatoes
Fresh Tomato Sauce – balsamic vinegar, molasses are the secrets; for pasta and pizza
Aji Amarillo Sauce – like Mexican nacho sauce for nachos
Mojo Sauce – citrus-based sauce for black beans or tacos
Muhammara Sauce – Syrian sauce for brushing on grilled meat or kebabs
Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce – Asian sauce for noodles, glazing grilled meats, or anything Asian

Try these sauces and bring big flavor to your meals!

Overnight Muesli

There are some summer mornings when the last thing I want is anything hot for breakfast. Knowing that the day will heat up, I want something cool and refreshing to get me started… yet something nutritious and tasty.

Overnight Muesli is just the ticket.

Muesli made with gluten-free oats.

Muesli made withg gluten-free oats.

I first learned of muesli back in my corporate traveling days when I ate breakfast at my hotel in Seattle. Now I make it for myself, at a fraction of the cost, and vary it as I like.

This version of muesli is made from gluten-free rolled oats (the whole grain part) and milk and yogurt (for dairy nutrients) plus a little honey and grated apples for sweetness.

It’s also perfect for busy summer days when your family—or guests—want breakfast at different times of the morning. All they have to do is reach into the refrigerator and grab one of these little gems.

I like using these cute little Mason jars, but use any vessel you like…as long as it’s got a lid to seal in moisture while the oats soak in the liquid overnight.

Overnight Muesli

Reprinted with permission from* by Carol Fenster

Museli , an oat-based cereal dish commonly served in European countries, is very creamy, hearty, and filling. It is especially cute when served in mini Mason canning jars, but you can use regular cereal or soup bowls. This dish is vegetarian but  f you use non-dairy yogurt and milk, this is a vegan breakfast.

Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Chilling time: overnight

3 [1/2] cups gluten-free granola**
2 apples (Gala or Fuji, or your choice), cored and grated (I don’t peel the apple, but you can)
8 ounces plain low-fat yogurt or soy yogurt
1 cup milk of choice
1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar, or to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh fruit for garnish

In a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients until well blended. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold, garnished with fresh fruit.

Per serving: 230 calories; 8g protein; 7g total fat; 4g fiber; 35g carbohydrates; 3mg cholesterol; 77mg sodium

*Check with your physician to make sure gluten-free oats are right for you.

** is a weekly e-booklet menu planning service that provides you with a personalized grocery shopping list.

Gluten-Free Dining in Canada

Traveling in Canada is always a joy—the people are delightful, the scenery is spectacular, and Canadians understand what it means to be on a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-free Pizza in Banff, Alberta

Gluten-free Pizza in Banff, Alberta

My travels were in the province of Alberta, where we enjoyed the beauty of Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper with beautiful mountain scenery, glaciers, and rushing streams and waterfalls.

Gorgeous scenery in Banff, Alberta

Gorgeous scenery in Banff, Alberta

It was a lot like my state of Colorado’s mountains and perhaps that’s why I like it so much. Our final 3 days were in Calgary to watch my grandson’s lacrosse tournament (see more about lacrosse below).

Of course, I was eager to see how Canadian restaurants would handle my gluten-free lifestyle, so here is a summary of my experiences. As you can see, there were some hits …..and a few misses!

The Meatball Pizza and Pasta
We just happened to drive past this restaurant, which is located in the Banff Ptarmigan Inn, but what a great restaurant. Their gluten-free pizza, with house-made crust  (see photo at right), was phenomenal. None of the pizza restaurants, however, offered vegan cheese (usually Daiya brand) that we can easily find in Denver.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
This is a big, grand old hotel, built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad in the 1880’s. It resembles a castle and it looks out over an incredibly beautiful mountain range. We had lunch on the outdoor patio of the Rundle Lounge, which boasts a gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains. My hamburger came with a gluten-free bun, upon request.

Earl’s Kitchen + Bar
Earl’s Kitchen + Bar is a chain, headquartered in Vancouver, BC, and we have a location near my home in Denver. At Earl’s, gluten-free items are clearly marked on the menu so I had tacos with corn tortillas. They were fantastic and the customer service was excellent, too.

The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company
This restaurant was actually located in Canmore, just outside Banff. Gluten-free items were clearly marked on the menu, so I chose a Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) which was delicious.

Wild Flour Bakery
The Wild Flour Banff Artisan Bakery has many gluten-free choices (both sweet and savory), but I chose a huge banana chocolate chip muffin which was fabulous. I only got to visit this baker once, but if I go back to Banff it will be my first stop! I devoured the muffin and forgot to take a photo.

Chateau Deli at Lake Louise Chateau Fairmont
You might not expect good gluten-free food at a deli, but I was shocked to find a ready-made, shrink-wrapped ham-and-cheese sandwich on gluten-free bread. The bread was phenomenal , the closest thing to a croissant that I have ever eaten. In fact, I was so taken aback that I ate the whole sandwich before I remembered to take a photo!

Evil Dave’s Grill
The primary reason we chose this restaurant was mostly because of its name… Evil Dave’s Grill. Despite its wild name, it was a fairly subdued place. The highlight was a warm gluten-free cake/brownie that was the perfect end to our steak dinner.

Warm Gluten-Free Brownie

Warm Gluten-Free Brownie

Bear’s Paw Bakery
This is a thriving bakery, with two locations in Jasper. Their muffins are not segregated away from the gluten muffins, but to their credit, the employees warn you that the muffins could be cross-contaminated. I really appreciated their candor, but I ate a muffin anyway with no problems.

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge
This hotel was located outside Jasper, overlooking a lovely serene lake. We ate outside and I had my first “banh mi” which is a Vietnamese sandwich. The restaurant served it on a gluten-free Udi’s bun and it was fabulous.

Mt. Robson Inn
I wouldn’t recommend this motel, however, I was pleased to find individual-wrapped bagels by Udi’s at the free breakfast. Because they were individually wrapped, there was no danger of contamination and I toasted mine in a toaster bag, which I always carry with me when traveling.

This restaurant is conveniently located in a hotel right near the Calgary airport, and is called Pacini. Imagine my surprise when the menu listed gluten-free bread, which was served lightly grilled. It was delicious!

Grilled Gluten-Free Bread

Grilled Gluten-Free Bread

Homewood Suites Hotel Breakfast
This new hotel included breakfast and I could order gluten-free bread, which I did. Unfortunately, the bread had been frozen and I think they thawed it in a microwave oven (on High) because within seconds it was hard as a rock and inedible.

Deerfoot Inn & Casino
This hotel was near my grandson’s lacrosse tournament (see below). I was pleased to order gluten-free bread at breakfast. Like most of the restaurants with gluten-free bread, it was Udi’s brand (which the servers pronounced as “oodiss”).

My General Impressions on Dining in Canada
Most of my experiences with gluten-free dining in Canada were positive. I noticed that some restaurants identified their approach as “gluten-aware” or “gluten-free aware” which servers explained to me as using gluten-free ingredients without guaranteeing there was no cross-contamination. So, that means to always ask questions about how the food is prepared to assess whether it is safe for you.

I found was able to find gluten-free beer brands, such as  Glutenberg brand made with millet, that I can’t find in the U.S.

More About Lacrosse
I was in Canada to watch my grandson’s lacrosse tournament. In case you aren’t familiar with lacrosse, the idea is to get the ball into the opponent’s net but you can only cradle or throw the ball from a small net pocket attached to the end of a stick. It requires a high degree of hand-eye coordination and I am amazed at the skill it takes to play the game. It is considered a contact sport, though not as rough as football.

Warm Olives in Herbs—with a fox story

Whenever I prepare warmed olives, I think of this story. Here it is:

Warm Herbed Olives

Warm Herbed Olives

Several years ago on a warm summer night, we were sitting with friends on their patio in the foothills of the Rocky mountains, munching on warm olives. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a fox keenly watching us––sitting within three feet of my husband. Soon, another fox crept to the edge of the patio, waiting. Now, I am not afraid of foxes, but I also understand that they are wild animals and deserve respect— and I would prefer that they be farther away than three feet!

It turns out that they expected their daily handout of raw eggs from our host and posed no harm to us at all. Once they had their eggs firmly ensconced in their teeth, they trotted off into the forest to have their own feast. It was a wonderfully mysterious look at nature––up close and personal. To this day, I think of foxes whenever I eat warm olives.

You can always serve your olives plain, but heating them in this mixture of herbs, citrus, and garlic elevates a simple olive to a delicacy. I’ve tinkered with this recipe for many years and it is my favorite version. You can heat the olives in the oven, but I have also heated them on the grill when we’re entertaining on the patio. Here in Colorado with our extremely strong sun, I can also just place the foil packet of olives in the sun and let nature do its work.

Warm Olives in Herbs
Reprinted with permission from 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008)
Delightfully simple, yet simply delicious. This will become one of your favorite appetizers.

2 cups olives of your choice, drained
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 (3-inch) strip lemon zest (no white)
1 garlic clove, halved
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

[1] Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine all the ingredients on a heavy-duty sheet of foil (or use two sheets of foil). Fold up edges of the foil to create a pocket and place on a small baking sheet.

[2] Warm the olives 15 to 20 minutes, or until they become fragrant. Serve warm.

Chilled & Dilled Cucumber-Apple Soup for Hot Summer Days

Summer is in full swing here in Colorado. Warm days in the 90’s, cool nights in the 60’s (we have daily temperature swings of 30 to 40 degrees). Farmer’s markets, community gardens, and stores are overflowing with peak-of-the-season fruits, herbs, and vegetables and my senses are overwhelmed with their beauty and fragrance.

Dilled Cucumber Apple Soup

Dilled Cucumber Apple Soup

I love the challenge of finding tasty ways to eat them…as in today’s Chilled & Dilled Cucumber-Apple Soup that blends two summer favorites: cucumber and dill, with apple as the sweetener. The result is a creamy, cool soup that’s perfect for these hot summer days. It’s also naturally gluten-free and perfect for entertaining your guests.

Plus, the dill that is flourishing in a big pot on my patio begs to be used and this soup is just perfect for that.

Chilled & Dilled Cucumber-Apple Soup
Reprinted with permission from 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster (Avery/Penguin Group, 2011)

Cool and refreshing as an entrée for a summer luncheon, or served in espresso cups or shot glasses as an appetizer before dinner, this super-easy soup is absolutely tantalizing. The sweetness of the apple juice both balances and accentuates the dill. Dried dill won’t work here; it has to be fresh.

3 medium Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored, and cut in ½-inch pieces
1 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups English cucumber, unpeeled, chopped, plus slices for garnish
1 cup low-fat sour cream, vegan sour cream, or plain yogurt (can use lactose-free yogurt)
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped, plus extra dill sprigs, for garnish

[1] In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, apple juice, lemon juice, agave nectar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the apples are tender. Let cool for 10 minutes.

[2] Place the apples, cucumber, sour cream, and dill in a blender and process until very, very smooth and all the peels and skins are pureed. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least 3 hours, to meld the flavors. Serve chilled, garnished with thin slices of cucumber and a small dill sprig for garnish. Serves 4 as a main course; 8 for appetizers.

Per 1 of 8 appetizers: 70 calories; 1g protein; 1g total fat; 1g fiber; 16g carbohydrates; 2mg cholesterol; 77mg sodium

Homemade Dill Pickles (without the “canning fuss”)

Summer’s garden bounty is in full-swing and Farmer’s Markets are bursting at the seams with lovely fresh produce. I always buy far more than I need, but I just can’t resist.

Homemade Dill Pickles

Homemade Dill Pickles are gluten-free and don’t require canning equipment.

One of the vegetables that beckons to me is small, Kirby cucumbers—just right for pickling. But the thought of hauling out all of the usual canning equipment to make pickles does not excite me at all.

Instead, I make my dill pickles the quick way—overnight—brining in the fridge. One taste and you’re hooked: the flavor is fresh and “dilly” but low in sodium because you control the salt. And, I just step outside to my patio to pick fresh dill but you can find it in supermarkets in the produce section.

The dill spears are crisp and crunchy. Here is the easy recipe for these delicious pickles, which keep for about a week in the fridge. Don’t worry, they won’t last that long!

Homemade Dill Pickles (without the canning fuss)
By Carol Fenster
Choose the small, Kirby cucumbers for this recipe for the best results—they fit more easily in small canning jars. This small recipe makes enough for two small (8-ounce) jars. I prefer using fresh dill from my backyard herb garden, but you can buy fresh dill in the supermarket or use dill seed.

3 small pickling (Kirby) cucumbers
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
2 sprigs (about ½ ounce) fresh dill (or ½ teaspoon dill seed)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ small onion, sliced
1 cup water
¾ cup white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar

[1] Wash and quarter the cucumbers lengthwise into spears and divide evenly between the two jars..cutting to fit in the jar if necessary. Divide the peppercorns, mustard seeds, dill, garlic, and onion evenly between the jars.

[2] In a small saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar to a boil and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved and then divided evenly between the two jars. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Keeps for 1 week, refrigerated. Makes 12 pickles.

Per pickle: 16 calories ; 0g fat; 1g protein;1g fiber;4g carbohydrates; 48mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol

Raspberry Tart in a Buttery Crust

In my mind, raspberries are one of the prettiest and most versatile of all the summer fruits. I always wished that I had room for a raspberry bush in my yard, but for now I remain content to buy them in the supermarket and Farmer’s Market.

Gluten-Free Raspberry Tarts in a Buttery Crust

Gluten-Free Raspberry Tarts in a Buttery Crust

There’s no end to the many ways you can use raspberries, but one of the showiest ways is this cute little tart where the raspberries are nestled in a buttery crust that you shape by hand—no rolling pin needed. And, they are bright red and festive so they are perfect for a showy dessert for July 4th celebrations or the most elegant dinner party.

The other nice thing about this recipe is that the pans shape the tarts into cute little fluted edges, with no extra effort on your part. But you will need special 3.5 to 4-inch tart pans that have removable bottoms. I use a nonstick pan by Chicago Metallic called a “cup pie set” that makes 4 tarts at a time. You could also use a “lift and serve tartlet” pan by the same company. These should be available in kitchen stores or online.

If you want to get creative, you can use other fruits besides raspberries. For example, nestle fresh blueberries in the baked crusts and top with blueberry jam. Bing cherries would also be nice, paired with cherry jam. I like this tart topped with unsweetened yogurt to offset the sweetness of the jam.

Raspberry Tart in a Buttery Crust©
By Carol Fenster
These cute little tarts are so simple, yet so gorgeous. The best part is that you just press the dough into the pans—no rolling pin needed—and the pan shapes a decorative edge for you! I like it with a dollop of whipped cream or plain yogurt, but it is delicious just by itself.

Buttery Crust
1/2 cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/16 baking soda
6 tablespoons butter or buttery spread
3 tablespoon milk of choice

Raspberry Filling
2 cups fresh raspberries
4 tablespoons good-quality raspberry jam (I like Bonne Maman)
2 to 4 teaspoons water

[1]Place racks in the bottom and middle positions of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375⁰F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour blend, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, salt, xanthan gum, and baking soda until well blended. Add the butter and milk and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until small clumps form. If you can shape the dough into a cohesive ball with your hands, it is ready. If not, beat in water (a teaspoon at a time) until the dough is ready. Knead the dough with your hands until it is very smooth.

[2] Divide the dough in fourths and shape into 4 balls. Place each ball in the center of a 3.5 to 4-inch nonstick tart pan. (I use a Chicago Metallic “cup pie set” or “lift and serve tartlet” that makes 4 tarts. The tart cups have removable bottoms.) With your fingers, press the dough evenly on the bottom and up the sides of each indentation. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. With a fork, prick the bottoms and sides of the dough a few times.

[3] Bake the tarts on the bottom rack of the oven for 5 minutes. Shift the pans to the next rack and bake for another 10 minutes or until the edges of the pastry start to brown. Remove the pans from the oven and cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack.

[4] Arrange the raspberries in a single layer in the crusts. Whisk enough of the water into the jam to thin it a bit and heat in the microwave on Low power just until the jam is melted, about 5 seconds. Pour the jam over the raspberries in each crust and use a pastry brush or fork to nudge the jam into the nooks and crannies between the raspberries and out to the edges of the crust. Let cool for at least 1 hour before serving. These are best eaten shortly after assembling. Makes 4 tarts.

Per tart: 375 calories; 3g protein; 16g total fat; 5g fiber; 58g carbohydrates; 42mg cholesterol; 327mg sodium

Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour or brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca flour
Whisk together until completely blended and store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.

Sprouting Gluten-Free Whole Grains and Seeds

I have always been fascinated by the idea of sprouting and vowed to try it—someday. Recently, I got serious about sprouting because I kept reading about its benefits, according to the Whole Grains Council.

Sprouted Wild Rice Salad

Sprouted Wild Rice Salad

Here is a brief list of those benefits from the Whole Grains Council’s website. I realize that these benefits may vary by the grain or seed you use, but here is the research:

[1] Sprouting increases many of the grains’ key nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids often lacking in grains, such as lysine—and makes them more bio-available so your body can absorb them better.
[2] Sprouted brown rice fights diabetes.
[3] Sprouted buckwheat protects against fatty liver disease.
[4] Sprouted brown rice reduces cardiovascular risk.
[5] Sprouted brown rice decreases depression and fatigue in nursing mothers.
[6] Decreased blood pressure linked to sprouted barley (obviously, off-limits to GF folks, but interesting).
(The science behind these claims is here.) Again, not every claim may apply to every grain but I’m most interested in making any grains’ ingredients more easily absorbed by my body.

I will add another benefit, although non-nutritional:
It is a great way to fix a meal during the hot days of summer because you don’t have to turn on any appliance.

Armed with these reasons I set out to conquer sprouting. But first, what is “sprouting?”

Here is my lay person’s definition: soaking a whole grain or seed (one that is “intact” because it contains the germ, endosperm, and bran) in water until it “sprouts” by opening up or growing little tendrils. You can “sprout” just about any grain or seed, but I will focus on those that are gluten-free and use the word “grain” for the rest of this post.

What does a sprouted grain look like? The answer is it varies by each grain. I decided to start with wild rice since I love its crunchiness, heartiness, and color. So, my recipe today uses wild rice. After sprouting, wild rice is soft enough to eat without cooking and some of the grains may open up like little flowers. If you prefer to cook your wild rice so it is softer and not so chewy, see my recipe from earlier this year. 

My first attempt was “Low-Tech” to say the least. I simply put the wild rice and water in a measuring cup and let it stand on the countertop, draining it through a sieve and changing the water twice a day, until it sprouted—which took about 4 days. It may take fewer days for softer grains.

Further research shows I could use something called a “sprouting jar” which is really like a glass Mason jar with a lid that has a built-in sieve and allows you to keep the grains in the jar while draining it upside-down. If you want to make this investment, (they are not expensive) you can find them at natural food stores or online. Or, you can just buy the lid with the built-in sieve and screw it onto your own Mason jar. Remember, if your grain is quite tiny (such as quinoa) the holes in the sieve must be very close together or they will fall through. Once you try it, you will discover what works best for you and your budget and patience.

Some bakers use sprouted grains for bread, but I’m not experienced in that yet, so I am focusing on eating the sprouted grains in a salad which can be served cold or at room temperature, perfect for hot weather dining. This means you don’t have to heat up the kitchen by cooking the wild rice.

Grain salads are really just a base of grains tossed with chopped fruits or vegetables and a salad dressing—much like making a regular mixed green salad. Sometimes these salads are called “grain bowls” in restaurants and could be topped with grilled meats or perhaps fried eggs. The recipe below is for a grain salad using wild rice, but for a heavier meal I would top it with grilled salmon or chicken.

Sprouted grains can also be eaten as a hot or cold breakfast cereal. With summer’s hot weather almost here, they make a healthy cold breakfast cereal and can be topped with fruit, nuts, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey… or whatever you like on your cereal.

By Carol Fenster
This recipe is my first try at “sprouting” so use it as a base for your own version. I make my own salad dressing, but you could use your favorite store-bought version to save a little time. I pair the wild rice with chickpeas because they provide a pretty color/shape contrast to the wild rice but you could also use white kidney or Great Northern beans. For a light supper, top this salad with grilled salmon or chicken.

1 cup wild rice
Water for soaking
½ cup shredded carrots (I use store-bought because I like their shape or shred your own)
½ cup finely diced red bell pepper or grape tomatoes
½ cup chopped nuts (almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios)
½ cup chopped green onions
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked chickpeas (cook your own or use canned and rinse thoroughly)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup greens (such as baby arugula, or cooked edamame, or frozen green peas)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave nectar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

[1] In a sprouting jar or medium bowl, combine the wild rice with enough rice to cover. Let soak at room temperature for 24 hours. Drain, rinse, cover with fresh water, and let soak for another 24 hours. Drain and rinse, then cover with water twice a day for the next two days or until the wild rice is tender enough to eat. Drain thoroughly. (If you are not ready to eat it, keep refrigerated for up to two days.)

[2] In a large bowl, toss together the wild rice, carrots, bell pepper, nuts, green onions, salt, chickpeas, basil, and greens until blended.

[3] Make the Basil-Lemon Vinaigrette: In a screw-top glass jar, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, maple syrup, lemon peel, salt, and pepper and shake until well blended. Add the oil and shake vigorously until the vinaigrette thickens. Or, puree all of the ingredients in a mini-blender or food processor until emulsified. Toss the salad with as much of the vinaigrette as you like. Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired. Serve at room temperature. Serves 6.

Per serving: 310 calories; 19g protein; 17g total fat; 4g fiber; 34g carbohydrates; 0mg cholesterol; 220 mgs sodium