Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Going Against the Grain

I have undertaken a new eating plan in an effort to navigate the challenges that have taken up residence in my digestive tract. The plan is basically a personal adaptation of the No Grain Diet. This is hard for me; very, very hard. I love grains. Or maybe I should be totally up front and admit that I crave them. A(manranth), B(uckwheat), C(ous cous)-- shall I continue all the way to R(ice)? Nothing pleases me more than beans, rice and tortilla chips for dinner, and I could happily dine on this multiple times per week. Oatmeal for breakfast? Bring it on! How about a midday wrap or roll-up? Delicious yes, on the diet; not so much.

I have found as I've gotten older that grains have become increasingly hard for me to digest. It's not that I am technically grain or gluten intolerant but I definitely have a sensitivity. Therefore I have eliminated almost all grain; and everyday I have to recommit myself to the plan.

Bread is my nemesis. It's my number one comfort food and to live without it is a real struggle. So I have begun researching no-grain bread options. As with the gluten free breads that are available in stores now, most grain free breads have unappealing textures. Great texture is paramount to reaching bread nirvana. I think that rather than thinking of my grain free options as 'bread', I would do myself a favor if I would define them as 'breakfast loaves'; slices of satisfying taste to go with the one cup of dark and robust coffee that I allow myself in the morning.

Today I tried making a quinoa loaf for the first time. I don't know how much you know about quinoa, so here's a brief lesson~

Quinoa (play /ˈknwɑː/ or /kɪˈn.ə/, Spanish: quinua, from Quechua: kinwa), a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds.*

So basically quinoa is a seed with much less starch and much more protein than true grains. The texture of uncooked quinoa might be described as true grit, and even after cooking it retains its nutty texture. It is amazingly easy to digest and I do like the taste.

I found a very nice recipe online entitled, Quinoa Breakfast Bread. The text was written more as a narrative which seemed to give it a no-fail quality. It was as if it were written to a novice cook as a tutorial. I especially liked this sentence: "When you've got all of your ingredients ready, preheat the oven to 375 F. " I like this step-by-step style.

"Look", I felt like saying. "Everything's ready." As you might be able to tell from the picture, this is no cheap loaf of bread! When shopping yesterday I kept hoping that I would love the finished product because I made quite a substantial investment. The nice thing is, I think I will use all of these ingredients again, whether or not I like this particular recipe.

One of the processes involved in creating this loaf was to make milk from raw, unsalted cashews. This required that I soak the nuts overnight. This morning I drained and rinsed them well and put them in my food processor with 3 cups of water and some raw honey. My Cuisinart is almost 30 years old but I have to tell you it is still up to the challenge! The milk is very delicious and because the recipe only called for 3/4 Cup, I have plenty left over for another use.

The preparation went fairly smoothly until I got to the last step which is to put the batter in the pan. The recipe said that the batter was supposed to resemble pancake batter. Uh oh! Mine looked a little more like sour dough starter on steroids. It was growing out of the bowl before I even finished mixing it. I think this is because the recipe called for 2 T of 'starch' but it didn't specificy what starch. Since I am talking totally grain-free here, I chose xanthan gum over corn starch. What I didn't know is that xanthan is a fermented sugar and I think using only 1 Tablespoon would have been a better idea. Learn by doing. During the baking process I had to turn the oven all the way down to 300. The bread rose so fast that I thought it was going to push the oven door open and make itself at home on the kitchen floor. I am sure there was an I Love Lucy episode about this very thing! Anyway, this loaf with lofty aspirations grew so tall that it was pressing into the rack above. This was seriously funny stuff.

Fortunately when the loaf was finally baked through and cooling on the counter it began to settle down. It kind of went from souffle to brick in a matter of about 20 minutes. It has not completely cooled yet but I couldn't resist a little bite. The taste is good and the texture moist. I think it has promise. And as my mom said, "Hey, with enough butter anything will taste good". She's got that right! Oh and yes, I do make my own butter. I'll tell you about that another time.


No comments:

Post a Comment