Tag Archives: healthy

Carob Cupcakes with Almond Butter Filling

This is what I made last week.

Carob Cupcakes with Almond Butter Filling

This is where I was this weekend.

On Lake Moore in Warwick, MA

This is who I made them for.

My gorgeous friend.

Life is good.

Happy Belated Birthday!

My dear friend suffers from food sensitivities far worse than I am currently dealing with, and I wanted to make her something special in celebration of a reunion with good friends and a birthday of hers that passed too long ago when I wasn’t nearby to celebrate with her.

This is an only slightly adapted version of her Chunky Cake that I made with her a few weeks ago.  I simply upped the ghee content a bit, fussed around with a few measurements and put some creamy almond butter in the middle.

They are FREE OF: sugar, flour, soy, chocolate, caffeine, nuts

Here’s how you can make them!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup ground flax meal
  • 1 cup carob powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp bourbon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • 1 1/2  cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup smooth almond butter, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 24 muffin cups or heavily grease an 8″ cake pan.
  • In a large bowl, mix ingredients in the order above, adding water gradually at the end, whisking throughout.
  • For filled cupcakes, pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan by about 1/2 inch, then dot 1 tsp of almond butter in the center.  Cover with more batter until about 2/3 full.
  • Bake cupcakes for 16 minutes and full cake for 40 or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Almond butter filling

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Chunky Carob Cake – Ridiculously Allergy Friendly!

Chunky Carob Cake

There are few names I’d put on my “soul-mate” list.  Nina Simone.  William Shakespeare.  James McAvoy (did you SEE X-Men First Class?  Totally redeemed the franchise from Wolverine and washed the bad taste of Bridesmaids out of my mouth).

In all seriousness, while I am surrounded by so many loving, special people, I am particularly grateful for my dear friend Lyndsey – a soul-mate if there ever was one.  We met through my college boyfriend over a dozen years ago, and aside from the many things we naturally had in common, we shared a history of chronic illness.  There’s no way I could summarize our friendship – but let’s just say we’ve been an ear, a shoulder, a hug, the voice on the other end of the phone that won’t hang up… I don’t know where I’d be without this woman.

So on my quick days off I scooted my little blue car down to DC to visit her and her husband, two of my favorite people in the whole world!  

Lyndsey is still suffering greatly from her illness and deep digestive problems, and her diet completely eliminates grains, sugar, chocolate, fruit, any sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, certain meats and fishes, fried foods, certain vegetables and is pretty much devoid of any sweet indulgences. I lived like that for several years but never as long as she, and don’t know how she hasn’t gone ballistic on a grocery store or restaurant by now.

But carob! Oh, yes, Lyndsey can have carob!

So the other morning she showed me how to make her “Chunky Cake”.

This cake is chocolate-free, sugar-free, grain-free / flourless, oiless, nut-free, low-carb, high-fiber, low-glycemic.  Really.  It does have ghee (clarified butter) so it’s not dairy free completely, but you can easily substitute with coconut oil or a fat of your choice.

And it’s incredibly easy – all ingredients mixed in a bowl and poured in a pan!

I was amazed at how light and airy the carob cake came out, while still packing a delicious aroma.  I’m going to have some fun experimenting with the recipe at home, using coconut products, tucking the batter around almond butter, soaking vanilla beans in almond milk.  But for now, here’s the original recipe.  Enjoy!

Moist and light Chunky Carob cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 1 cup carob powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup melted ghee
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325°.  Heavily grease a pie plate or single cake pan.
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (in no particular order) with a whisk until thoroughly combined.  The resulting batter should sort of glop a bit off the whisk and not run completely smooth.  Because of the goopy result of using flax, Lyndsey describes it as “falling like boogers”.  One of the thousands of reasons why I love her so much.
  • Pour into prepared plate and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or fork inserted comes out relatively smooth.

Royal Wedding Pear and Coriander Scones

Royal Pear and Coriander Scones

Are you excited about the Royal Wedding?!?!I can’t particularly say I am.  Of course I do regress to my little nine year old self with the idea of tiaras and fancy dresses and a gal becoming a princess.  But that excitement quickly turns to nausea as Kate is continually snubbed for being a “commoner” and the haughty opinions of the aristocracy are tossed about.  I don’t believe in hierarchy between people, especially as we’re all thrust into a body somewhere on earth in a crazy lottery devised by that-I-know-not.

But I’m aware of this event through a grapevine situation – my roommate his hosting some friends to watch the wedding this weekend.   To neutralize the enjoyment factor between their differing desires to watch the wedding they’re making a drinking game of it – I think the repeated usage of the word “commoner” is a dangerous one to commit to drinking with in this case, but to each her own!

And, of course, any event makes me think about… food.

So today I found myself with a little time and a desire to make scones.

Continue reading

Lemon Scones with Genmaicha Green Tea

Lemon Scones with Genmaicha Green Tea Glaze

Years ago a dear friend in college introduced me to Japanese pearl jasmine tea, and we’d sit in her basement apartment drinking out of delicate cups that released an aroma I had never imagined could exist so closely available at my fingertips.  Over the next few years I started tasting and buying tea like some people buy wine.  I justified the expense because of how healthy this habit is: teas have been shown to provide and help in the absorption of antioxidants, as well as fight certain cancers, reduce blood pressure and help to regulate blood sugar.  And when you’ve been living with a chronic illness, healthy habits are what keep your worst symptoms in remission year after year.

I try, in humble thanks, to use my health in small ways to contribute to the healing of others.  So I jumped on this Online Bake Sale to Help Japan as soon as I got the tweet.  Driving back into NYC yesterday, on a miraculously empty highway, I looked down the Hudson River at the George Washington Bridge a few blocks from my apartment, and was so thankful.  As recent environmental and political events continue to show us, many of our current blessings can be taken away from us in mere minutes.

So my contribution to this online bake sale is inspired by those who have been displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threat in Japan, and the tea that has, over the years, contributed to my health. Continue reading

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

It was a long weekend, full of way too much fun with good people and delicious food.  And at the end of an exhausting Sunday, where I had gotten drenched by the NYC rain too many times, sort-of enjoyed THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU and muscled my way through YogaX (the yoga version of P90X a visiting friend shames us by doing daily),  I wanted to “eat the crap out of some sushi”.

Enter Kamui Den.  The best thing about eating sushi there is that the sushi is not the best thing on the menu.  It is delicious – buttery soft with lots of ginger and mild wasabi on the site – but it’s the appetizers that win.  Lotus Root salad, picked vegetables, tempura so light you can see the texture of the vegetables before you bite into them.  And a simple cold asparagus salad that my boyfriend boldly proclaimed to be the best asparagus he’s ever had.

Thank god it’s a simple dish.  The boyfriend can’t cook to save his life (sadly I think that’s a completely true statement) but the visiting friend (Tim) is an extremely able man in the kitchen.  We agreed that the most likely way to replicate the dish is to flash boil the asparagus and then douse it in a cold water bath before drizzling on the simple sauce of lemon, oil, salt and pepper.  Tim also pointed out to salt the crap out of the water – literally, so that it tasted like the Arctic.  I knew it would help bring out the color of the asparagus, but didn’t know how much salt it takes to season vegetables in the boiling state.

This morning I hit the train to Connecticut and stopped by my brother’s place, where he left me some Brussels sprouts and asparagus in exchange for checking in on his cat (it’s sort of endearing that he knows leaving me his unused vegetables does really make it that much easier to get a favor out of me).  While my laziness enticed me to stick to my millet/lentil/get-my-tush-in-the-office plan, the desire to learn how to make this for someone I care about won over.

And it’s really simple.  Really.  As in, he can make it.

Maybe.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • salt (table salt for boiling and I used rock sea salt for flavoring)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice (fresh preferred)

Directions

Plain old asparagus, sorta green and full of potential

Trim the ends off of each spear and then cut in half, so that your pieces are about 3″ long.  Bring a medium pot of water to a boil with a lot of salt… I estimate that I used about 2 tablespoons.  While waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice-water bath and make sure you have a colander ready.  When at a roiling boil, drop in asparagus and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes, until the thickest spear is soft enough to easily pierce with a fork but the pieces still have a lot of firmness to them.

The vibrant green after boiling

Quickly drain and toss in the ice-water bath, swirling the asparagus to make sure they’re all submerged.

While the asparagus chills, whisk together 2 Tbsp very good virgin or extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, and freshly cracked salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the cold asparagus in and then drain as much of the oil off as possible.  Use excess oil for drizzling

Enjoy!

Kamui Den Cold Asparagus Salad

 

Tapioca and Buckwheat Gluten-and-Dairy Free Crepe Batter

 

Savory Breakfast Crepes

Yesterday I woke and immediately started daydreaming about Sunday breakfast.   With all the writing and social networking that goes with my job(s), sometimes I just get cranky for time IN the actual kitchen.

Crepes.  I don’t know why, but I started daydreaming about crepes.  Filled with eggs and goat cheese and something bright colored to remind me what spring looked like.  Luckily I was only a few blocks from Whole Foods, where a bunch of gorgeous little tomatoes from Mexico found their way into my basket, along with some fresh cilantro and small Mexican champagne mangoes.  The sun was out, the air was warm, I walked home with my jacket unbuttoned and my raggedy hair blowing in the wind.  New Yorkers had a bit more of a spring to their step, and I didn’t realize at the time how this quick break from the cold would make smiles turn up a bit more on most of the lovely people I’d encounter in my day.

Anyway, back in the kitchen.  I had decided on using a little buckwheat – which is common in some crepe recipes but used sparingly as it can be a bit bitter – and tapioca flour to pull along with the eggs and soymilk I was using for the crepe batter.  A tiny bit of butter and salt, and that’s it!  I utilized the whipping strength of a blender and the ease of a non-stick skillet to aid in making sure that the eggs would be beaten light and fluffy and the crepes easy to flip.  When the first one actually WORKED I called my boyfriend to the stove, giddy like a school-child out the first day of holiday.  We delighted in a few seconds of cheery contentment, flipping gluten-and-dairy-free crepes onto a waiting pan while eggs slow-cooked nearby.

This recipe is quite simple, and quick, and with a little practice I soon had a stack of warm crepes that I filled with sauteed eggs and served with a guacamole-type mix and the freshly sliced champagne mangoes.

It was a good, good, good day.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup soy or unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp melted butter or olive oil

Directions

Whip eggs and milk of choice in blender until creamy and a bit fluffy (if you don’t have a blender you can use a standing or hand mixer, or just whip the heck out of them with a whisk).  Add the flours 1/3 a cup at a time, whipping thoroughly with each addition.  Add the melted butter or oil and salt and whip quickly to incorporate.

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium high heat and spray lightly with cooking spray.  Hold skillet away from heat and let cool for 5 seconds, then pour enough batter in the center of the skillet, swirling quickly to cover the entire surface, until the bottom of the skillet is just covered with batter.  Return to heat and cook for 15-20 seconds or until the sides of the crepe start to curl.  Flip gently and cook on the other side another 20 seconds.  Remove to plate.  Repeat until you get a pretty stack of crepes!

Before I started cooking the crepes I had a second skillet going on low heat with melted butter, slowly stirred eggs, fresh cilantro, soft goat cheese and the skins of these tomatoes:

I then reserved the insides of them and mashed them with avocado, more cilantro, a squirt of fresh lemon juice (in the absence of lime) and some sea salt and pepper.  And then adorned the dish with the fresh champagne mangoes.  They’re a little tarter, firmer and less fibrous than regular mangoes.

While the tomatoes weren’t quite what I wanted (beautiful in color but still lacking that perfect summer tomato sweetness), it was a gorgeous dish, paired with orange juice and locally roasted coffee.  The perfect start to one of the best Sundays I’ve had in a long while.

 

Creamy egg-filled crepes with champagne mangoes, avocado and Mexican tomatoes

Sugar-Free Coffee Carob Candies

Coffee Carob Candies

For a few years at the height of my illness, I wasn’t able to eat most things that one would consider an indulgence – chocolate, sugar, alcohol.  While my stomach is stronger and I can moderate some of these things back into my diet, I have a dear friend who still is very limited in what her body can digest.

She hit a pretty big birthday recently, and when I visit her to celebrate I want to present her with something special, indulgent and… digestible.

Carob is a delightful alternative to chocolate – it contains no caffeine, as much vitamin B1 as is in strawberries, and is full of protein, fiber and trace minerals.  It’s gentle on the stomach and naturally sweet, so you don’t need to sweeten it as you do raw cocoa.

So I made a mental list of things my dearie can have and played with proportions.  The result?  A fudgey, chocolate-y treat with a huge blast of coffee and a spicy finish.  An easy, quick way to indulge in a sugar-free treat!

Ingredients:

  • I cup carob powder
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp ground decaf coffee
  • 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk plus more if necessary

Directions:

  • Lightly grease mini-cupcake tins or candy tins.
  • In a small pot, melt the ghee, then add coconut milk, whisking continually until warm.
  • Add coffee and cinnamon and whisk to absorb.
  • Slowly add carob, whisking continually, until all the carob powder is smooth.  It won’t have the same consistency as chocolate, being a little thicker, but should be soft and malleable.   If desired, blend with an immersion or standing blender.
  • Press into individual molds and refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour.
  • Loosen candies from pan with a thin knife.
  • Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  • Makes about 16 candies.

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes

Oh.  My.  Dog.

Blueberry Lemon Pancakes.

Nothing remarkable in this combination.  Nothing remarkable in any of the FOUR types of pancakes I’ve baked and eaten this week.  Except that these are, in themselves, remarkable.  As remarkable as the last three.  So remarkable that I HAD to take pictures and write about them.   So remarkable that as I chew I’m already thinking of what other combinations of fruit and cake I can make for breakfast.

And as I tear into another piece, I realize that this sensory satisfaction has gone over the borderline.

I am a pancake junky.

I will not deny it.  At my best my body can tolerate most grains in unlimited quantity, so much so that I can even splurge on a wheaten food now and then and not suffer greatly.  At my worst, a grain as gentle as quinoa feels like a freight train careening through my digestive tract.  For years I would never dare to combine grains with fruit, because of the competing digestive enzymes (a practice I still keep as much as possible).  And for much of my childhood, ingredients and awareness of tasty alternatives to gluten and dairy were just not around.  So now I’m reveling in this treat that was absent in my life for so long.

I know, an addict can justify anything.  And I’m not so self-focused that I’m unaware of the difference between being addicted to a relatively-healthy baked good and, say, heroine (ask me about coming down off of 10-months of 24-hour constant doctor-prescribed opioids – now that wasn’t fun).

So instead of groveling in guilt and thinking about having, say, eggs and spinach for breakfast tomorrow, I’m just gonna come to terms with my adoration and spell out this easy, gluten-free, dairy-free source of this moment’s joy for all you fellow junkies out there.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour or gluten-free pancake mix
  • IF NOT USING PANCAKE MIX add 1/4 cup tapioca starch and 1 tsp xantham gum
  • the zest of one lemon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened milk – I used soy but almond or cow’s works too
  • 1 Tbsp butter or Earth Balance, melted and cooled
  • at least 1 cup blueberries

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in order listed except blueberries, mixing thoroughly with spatula.  The mixture should be just slightly smooth, enough that it doesn’t run but slides a bit off the spatula.  If too dry, add a few tablespoons more milk.
  • If possible, let mixture sit for at least 1/2 hour (I did for an hour, which was perfect)
  • Fold in blueberries, about 1 cup or more to taste
  • Heat a non-stick, stainless steel or cast iron pan to a medium heat and spray with nonstick spray
  • Drop about 2 soup-spoons worth of batter for each pancake, enough to make it about 3″ across
  • Cook until the pancake puffs and the underside is brown, flip and cook till brown.
  • Serve with fresh blueberries and real Maple Syrup.

I told you it was easy.  Nothing complicated or out of the ordinary.  But the lemon packs a huge punch and large, ripe blueberries provide enough sweetness that I only used a tiny bit of maple syrup.  Oh.  My.  Dog.

Vegan Barbecue Soup

I think I’m coming down with something.  My body’s hot, my brain is cloudy, and I have a certain feeling of existential bewilderment that usually comes before a cold / flu / general feeling of nastiness.  I shake my fist to the universe – “what’s the point of anything?  Why should I cook?  Why wake up early for an audition tomorrow?  Who really cares?!?!”

Then I cook myself some soup, staple my resume to my headshot, and grab my computer.  As Sam the Eagle of the Muppet persuasion says, “It is the American way”.

Now this picture does NOT justify the deliciousness of this soup.  It’s adapted from the recipe Lemon and Lima Bean Soup I got from Bloodroot restaurant in Bridgeport, Connecticut – a vegetarian joint that’s been around since the 70s and serves up some of the most scrumptious, natural food I’ve ever had in a wonderfully women-centric environment.  I tend to use a bit more liquid and seasonings and a dash of something more to get the flavor I want, but their original recipe and cookbooks are highly recommended.

The first time I had this soup I was BLOWN away and ate up two servings of it with gusto.  So I HAD to buy the book, and have often made this soup when feeling a bit run down but wanting something more substantial than my ol’ veggie medley soup.

Have fun with the amount of flavors.  I like to call it Barbecue soup because the combination of tamari and tomato paste tastes like the best part of a bbq to my happy tastebuds.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of baby dry baby lima beans, picked through
  • 2 large red onions, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Marsala wine
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more to taste
  • 4 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter) (optional)
  • roasted walnuts (optional)

Directions

  • Soak the lima beans overnight or for at least 6 hours.  Drain and rinse thoroughly, then place in a large (preferably cast iron) pot and cover with water at least 3 inches higher than beans.  Add about 2 tsp salt.  Bring up to a boil, low to medium heat and cook until soft, about 2 hours.
  • After the beans have been cooking for about an hour, heat oil in a large skillet and cook onions and garlic on low until soft, about 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Season onions with salt and pepper, add Marsala wine.
  • When beans are soft, remove about 1/3 into saucepan.
  • With a hand blender, blend the remaining beans with their broth until smooth.
  • Add onion / garlic mix with beans into large pot, add tamari, lemon juice and tomato paste.
  • Season with salt and pepper, and olive oil or ghee if desired.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Serve with swirls of olive oil and toasted walnuts.

Makes four servings.

Last Gluten-Free Noodle Standing!

A while back New York Magazine did an article called “Last Noodle Standing“, where three chefs and one really Italian guy compared the city’s best dried pasta and voted on their favorites.  Not being able to indulge in what they said were some stellar noodles, I devised my own challenge: “Last Gluten-Free Noodle Standing”!

I hosted a few friends over to taste-test five pastas that contained no gluten whatsoever.  We followed the same protocol as the NYMag article: each pasta was boiled in salted water according to package directions and then tasted on its own with nothing on it, and then again with some sort of sauce.  Whereas the NYMag guys just used oils and cheese as their sauce, we kicked it up a notch and had some heartier coverings.  We rated each category – flavor, texture and sauce absorption – on a 30 point scale, for a total of 90 points.

To up the fun, my guests were not given the types of grains the pastas were made out of, and only after we totaled everything up did they discover the source of what they liked and didn’t like.  And unlike NYMag we’re admittedly not the city’s top pasta chefs.  But along with yours truly – the can’t-eat-much-normal-food gal – my judges are peeps who know how to eat on a budget, and quality pastas are at the top of anyone’s recession-spending list.

Note: gluten-free pastas tend to overcook easily, becoming very mushy, so I tended to cook all on the lower end of the time-range, checking often.

The Pastas

The Winner: 76.25 pointsTNK912L
Tinkyada Pasta Joy
Brown Rice Spirals
$3.79/16oz
tinkyada.com

Sauce: Variety of olive oils, salt and pepper, fresh Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Boasts that it can stand “over-cooking”.  All-rice company in many varieties of pastas.  Cooks in 15 minutes.  210 calories and 4 grams of protein per serving.

This pasta won in both the FLAVOR and TEXTURE departments.  Made only of brown rice, it was “just what (one) would expect from a well-seasoned pasta” and tasted close to its wheat-counterpart.  Two of us considered it a lovely al-dente, while the other two thought it was slightly softer than a wheat al-dente but not at all grainy, as expected, or unpleasant.  It absorbed the flavors of the sauces rather well.  One of us wondered how it would do with a cream sauce.

fusilli

Second Place: 73.5 points
Andean Dream Quinoa/Rice Fusilli
$3.50/8oz at Whole Foods
andeandream.com

Sauce: Bergamot olive oil from O&Co and Hazelnut olive oil from La Tourangelle.

Uses organic quinoa grown in the Bolivian Andes, and organic brown.  The quinoa is fairly traded and employs 280 families in the Andean Valley.  Cooks in 13-15 minutes.  207 calories and 6 grams of protein per serving.

This was a pasta I had never tried before and was very pleased with.  It was a little bland on its own, but the closest to how a wheat-pasta would taste on its own.  The noodles didn’t clump after cooking, and 3 out of 4 judges thought it had a consistent al-dente texture (though some noodles fell apart – we’re not sure if this was pre- or post-cooking though). "The pasta created a nice blank canvas for the flavors" and "let the flavors shine".  We first used Bergamot oil with salt, pepper and sometimes cheese, and were floored by how well it took in the flavor.  Then the hazelnut oil brought it to another dimension.  This pasta REALLY takes on flavor well, winning in the SAUCE category.

Glutino Spagetti

Third Place: 65.75 points
Glutino Brown Rice Spaghetti
$3.00/10oz at Whole Foods
glutino.com

Sauce: Broccoli Rab cooked with olive oil and lots of garlic.

Company focused on bringing tasty alternatives specifically to those with gluten intolerance.  Cooks in 7-10 minutes.  200 calories and 5 grams of protein per serving.

Alone, we thought this pasta was a bit grainy and bland, though not bad, with a slightly sweet or citrusy aftertaste.  It clumped a LOT from cooking.  3 of us thought it was grainy, being too soft on the outside and harder on the inside, but the 4th thought it was a perfect spaghetti al-dente.  It didn’t capture the delicate flavors of the oils and vegetables at all and needed a lot of moisture.  It would probably do better with being put directly into a tomato-based sauce right after cooking.

Ancient Harvest Rotellea

Fourth Place: 52.75 points
Ancient Harvest Quinoa/Corn Rotelle
$2.69/8oz at my local store
quinoa.net

Sauce: Beef meat and green pepper sauce for the men and fresh tomato and red pepper sauce for the ladies.

First company to bring quinoa to the U.S.  Fairly traded and from sustainable sources. Cooks in 6-9 minutes.  205 calories and 4 grams of protein per serving.

This pasta had a nice flavor on its own, thanks to the corn/quinoa combination.  But the corn made it distinctively grainy and inconsistent in cooking – some noodles were perfectly soft while others were hard inside.  This is the one pasta that was also cooked to its fullest cooking time, and I pointed out that normally when I use this pasta I have to intentionally over-cook it to negate the inconsistency, therefore making it normally on the mushier side.  Though some of us thought it stood up to the heavier sauces well, it didn’t take on the flavors of the sauces or let its own flavor come through, and the texture was a distraction.  While I’m not a fan of this pasta, I do give props to the company for producing phenomenal quinoa on its own – both varieties are delicious.De Boles

Fifth Place: 46.25 points
DeBoles Rice/Quinoa/Amaranth Penne
$2.99/8oz at my local store
deboles.com

Sauce: sauteed summer squash, onions and garlic in olive oil.

Multi-grain powerhouse combo of quinoa and amaranth. Cooks in 5-minutes.  200 calories and 5 grams of protein per serving.

I was most excited to try this brand and we were all extremely disappointed.  On its own it was “bland, but also tasted more like trees.  The type of taste people fear when they hear ‘healthy’”, and had a “crunchy, almost woodsy taste, but not in a bad way”.  The noodles so fell apart while cooking, it was hard to find whole pieces of penne.  They shredded on our forks, and it was impossible to pick up with any sauce or vegetables.  The only “saving grace” was adding the squash and sauce, when the pasta “got out of the way” and lost the “natural food aura”.

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