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Abrazos! xox Penny

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

FUN with new friends!

I had a great time last night with some new friends. Invited to speak on how to live better with gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease, I had a couple of goals in mind...for myself as well as my new friends: keep it simple and keep it fun. Over the weekend, I was in the grocery check out line ahead of a woman who was buying an $8 bottle of gluten-free, high fructose corn syrup- free salad dressing. Can you imagine? Eight dollars!!!!!! Oh, I felt like she was being totally taken advantage of and yes, ripped off. Most bottled salad dressings start off with inferior ingredients, especially oils, anyway. That experience came on the heels of a call from a gal who wanted her little daughter to have fun at her own birthday party. All year long, she had been excluded from birthday party fun because of her gluten-free needs. As a little girl myself, I remember those parties well. I was allergic to cow's milk, eggs and chocolate and so while my pals were gobbling down birthday cake in the dining room, I sat in their kitchen with some cardboard tasting substitute and listened to all the giggling and glee others were having as they ate their yummy tasting cake. I felt her pain as a mom and as a little girl and can't wait to help them throw a beautiful party where everyone can have her cake and eat it, too!! I have learned lots from a gluten-free baker and can't wait to share what I have learned. Hope to have samples to nibble on soon!

Back to last night...spring is here and greens and all kinds of fresh veggies are popping up everywhere, in farmers markets, in the grocery store and even in backyards. Because they are so essential to healing, I throw veggies, herbs and spices in wherever I can, even in my morning shake. I wanted to serve up the grain quinoa last night. It is a fabulous grain, quick cooking and nutrient dense and well-tolerated by nearly all. As life would have it, the recipe for the salad I wanted to make had lots of things I didn't have in the fridge and so I played around with what I had. Because it had so many shades of green in it and because this week celebrates Earth Day, I am calling it Earth Day Quinoa Salad!

Earth Day Quinoa Salad

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/4 minced jalapeno peppers (marinated)
1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix all together in a glass jar. Give it a good shake to mix thoroughly.
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 cup minced fresh mint
1/4 cup diced fresh carrots
1/2 cup blanched fresh asparagus
1/2 cup blanched broccoli

To prepare quinoa, wash first and drain well. Then place in saucepan with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and let cook, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes. When done (you will see the little curlicues spiral up off the grain), drain off any excess water, fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool. To blanch asparagus and broccoli, wash well to remove any sand and drop into boiling water for 1-2 minutes. remove and plunge into a bowl of ice water. Drain well.

To assemble salad, add veggies to quinoa and mix well. Add vinaigrette to taste. Then, taste and add any extra sea salt or pepper or additional mint or cilantro. Serves 6.

We ended the evening with "shots" of agave nectar and they were a nice finishing touch for the salad! Ha...gotta have fun, right? Cheers!

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