Tag Archives: quinoa

Gluten Free Quinoa Salad

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Gluten Free Quinoa Salad, originally uploaded by Kate Chan.


Some days are pure magic.

MAGICAL MOMENT #1:   Nature and The Chicklet
Like when the sun shines and the breeze kicks up just enough to blow her little pixie hair bangs about her forward… just enough to make her throw her little hands in the air and chuckle with her smoky -I-need-a-nap giggle. Just magic. These are the moments that I thought we would never experience, to be honest. The little ones – even the ones when she is wearing so much more than she actually put IN to her mouth. These little moments are the ones we longed for all these years.. and maybe that is what we all long for endlessly: time to be and enjoy.

MAGICAL MOMENT #2: My Love… Always Magical to Me
Having Zoe here is certainly making me readjust my schedule. I love it. but to be honest, I miss baking and cooking more than I thought I would. Last night I practically BEGGED my husband NOT to cook and clean everything. (Can you believe this… I was truly BEGGING for him NOT to pitch in like this? Yes.. I married a dream boat!). Alas, the little imp was restless and I had play duty. Cooking was definitely all him but at least I got to request my favorite grilled chicken with corn on the cob. I even had him grill a little extra chicken so my lunch would be less “grab-whatever-is-there-NOW” and more healthy and planned.

Well, I shouldn’t say more healthy. I eat great. Being a gluten-free Mom certainly has it’s advantages and disadvantages. NOT being able to grab something to eat through a drive-through is BOTH. It’s much healthier for my body that I can’t but it *IS* hard when I forget to pack something for *me* to eat during the day. I’m great at packing things for the Chicklet… but me? Yea. I often don’t think that I will get very hungry. Three days ago, however, I found myself with a serious urge to start eating my own elbow. Oh, buggers, was I wickedly hungry!

MAGICAL MOMENT #3:   A Miracle… of sorts
Since that was hardly a possibility, I munched on a pack of sweetened Korean rice crackers that I miraculously stowed in my purse one day for the Chicklet but she didn’t want/need them. (Let’s hear it for not having time to clean out your purse!) While I munched, I plotted: how to get back cooking and baking again. And my first step: begging… failed. But the second? Having my Love grill a little extra so I had easy lunch fixings? A snap!

MAGICAL MOMENT #4:  Discovery
My other little learning curve happy-factor was figuring out that I could use my rice cooker to make quinoa! Hooray! Although my husband is Chinese, he has never seen the “need” for a rice cooker. No one is his family has one – they all just have a dedicated pot to cooking rice. And they are right. It’s not a *need*, but DANG, it is SO helpful when I can’t stand in the kitchen to watch a simmering pot because there is a little more action taking place in the living room with the kid. My Love has even declared our gift to ourselves this winter of a rice cooker as a good call now that the little girl is here. He, too, has no desire to stand around a pot when we can be playing with her!

A couple little tips for you rice-cooker owners, however, about cooking quinoa in your rice cooker are as follows:

  • Use the measuring cups that come with your cooker if you want precision, otherwise just be sure to measure the quinoa and don’t eyeball it until you get a hang of it.
  • Wash and rub your quinoa grains together *WELL* in a fine mesh sieve before draining and adding to your cooker. NOT washing quinoa makes for a very bitter bite.
  • Add enough water to meet the “white rice” or “regular rice” settings on your cooker.
  • Cook on the “White Rice” or “Regular Rice” setting.
  • Don’t leave the quinoa to stay warm in the cooker for longer than 90 minutes or so. The smaller grained quinoa will continue to cook and can burn in your cooker if you do.

What veggies do you have in your fridge that need to be eaten? That’s what you could use in this salad. OH, it so hit the spot today. It was lovely to have a *lunch* and not to try to munch something – ANYTHING – over the kitchen sink while the little one meanders about foot.

MAGICAL MOMENT #5:  Left Overs can be Magical too!
Use up your leftover veggies and grilled meats. Or use some tofu instead to make it vegetarian. Try olive oil instead of butter to make it casein free. Whatever you do, munch on, people! It’s summer! There are magical moments that require our keen eyes, healthy bodies and joyous hearts!

Ohh yea…. Quinoa Salad Magic! I hope you try it too!

Gluten Free Quinoa Salad
Everything but the kitchen sink or the baby.
Serves 2.5 for lunch
You can find a printable copy of this “recipe” here.

2 mini-cucumbers, cut into fourths then cut diagonally OR one half of an English cucumber (seedless) prepared the same
1 small tomato, roughly chopped
1 cooked/grilled chicken breast, chopped
3 Tablespoons roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
6 – 8 black or green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, sautéd in a little olive oil with garlic (1 teaspoon minced garlic)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (for the spinach)
1 cup quinoa -washed and prepared following your “white rice/regular” setting on your rice cooker or as you prefer
salt/pepper to taste
3 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted
zest from one small lemon
juice from said small lemon + 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice to taste
2 teaspoons agave nectar (or honey, if you prefer)

1. Prepare your quinoa as you prefer or with your rice cooker as following: Wash one cup of quinoa thoroughly. Rub together the quinoa while cool water runs over it in a fine mesh sieve. Put into your rice cooker and add water for one cup as though it were white/regular rice. Set your rice cooker to cook as though it were white/regular rice as well. Remove the quinoa from the rice cooker within an hour of it being done. Unlike rice, the rice cooker will continue to cook the quinoa (the grains are smaller) and it will eventually burn if left too long. Pour prepared quinoa into a medium/large salad serving bowl. Set aside.
2. Once the quinoa is prepared (or your daughter is down for a nap and the quinoa is done already), quickly sauté your two handfuls of spinach in a drizzle of olive oil. Add 1 – 2 teaspoons minced garlic to the sauté. Remove from heat and put prepared spinach into the salad bowl.
3. Clean and roughly chop the following ingredients: mini cucumbers, small tomato, roasted red pepper, cooked/grilled chicken breast, and the olives. Place chopped ingredients into the salad bowl.
4. PREPARE the DRESSING: Melt the butter. Zest the small lemon into the melted butter. Squeeze lemon juice into butter. Taste. If you would prefer, add a bit more lemon juice (we add about 2 teaspoons more). Add agave nectar (or honey, if you prefer) and whisk together.
5. Pour dressing over the quinoa and chopped vegetables and toss. Add salt/pepper to taste.


Quinoa Crab Cakes – Baked & Gluten free!

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This week and next are going to get rough around here. These are the last days of school and things are amping up. Time is filled with final exams (writing, grading, etc), final projects (sob stories, panic, and more) and the whirlwind of administrative work that MUST – absolutely MUST get done RIGHT NOW.

And when I’m not twirling in the midst of teenage-job-boss-mania, I’m completely out of it tired. It is NOT helping me one bit that we still have rainy, drizzling spring weather here without a ray of sunshine in sight. OH! My kingdom for summer!

In the meantime, my recipes are getting more eyeballed than recorded in my notebook. Whatever is in the fridge is fair game. Whatever takes a long time to make? Not gonna happen. And… there must be leftovers. That way I have lunch covered.

This is the week when my bento box is either filled with sandwich goodies (love this lavash wrap – quick, easy, flexible for days!) or leftovers. I no longer have time to make my rice/egg molds for lunch or even salads for that matter. Heck. It’s grab-go-run-drop and start all over again.

One lovely break did come about this weekend. We hosted five teenagers for an overnight. OH! It was SO fun! We had exchange students from Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Thailand and one sole American young lady who we have known for four years. (She is graduating this year with both her high school diploma AND her AA Degree – WAHOO!)

Aren’t they fabulous!?!

The kids were SO much fun to have around the house – and SUPER easy too! We went to a ceramics store in town where we all painted a piece of pottery with glazes, signed our names on each other’s artwork, and laughed for hours. We didn’t even eat dinner until 11:00PM! After the ceramics and dinner, they played Wii Guitar Hero, watched movies, played games, and sat around laughing until about 5AM on Sunday morning. (We so didn’t last that long…. trust me.)

After we got all of them home on Sunday afternoon, we were really surprised at how quiet our house was. It renewed our discussions, dreams, aspirations, etc for adoption… we still have not found an agency yet. =(

While we debated and discussed it all again, I opened the fridge to make something for dinner…. with leftovers for lunch…. and this is what I found: crab meat, fresh basil, piquillo peppers, eggs, some leftover quinoa, and a few other remnants. So these crab cakes were born. We baked them as neither of us was in the mood to fry anything and neither of us had the energy to wash a pan. LOL

Please forgive the quantities here and adjust for your taste. Everything was eyeballed in the making. Nothing was measured.
Next time, I’ll measure.
If I haven’t been awake until 3 the night before.
I promise.

Baked Quinoa Crab Cakes
Recipe makes 6 substantial crab cakes or a meal for 2 with leftovers for one.

1/2 pound crab meat (we used Dungeness crab meat), picked over for any hidden shells
6 piquillo peppers – or one red bell pepper, roasted
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1/4 cup basil leaves, minced or sliced thin
1/2 cup precooked/leftover quinoa
1/4 cup gluten-free oats
1 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 squirt of lemon juice
1 egg
Salt/pepper to taste
1 cup GF Bread Crumbs or Cracker Crumbs, process in a food processor until fine or use Gillian’s Italian Bread Crumbs (Oh! We love these!)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix together crab through egg well.
  3. Season with salt/pepper.
  4. Form each crab cake by dividing the mix into six equal balls and flattening to a 1/2 inch or 1 inch thick crab cake.
  5. Gently place each crab cake into the bread crumb mix and cover with crumbs. Slide the cakes out and place on to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  6. Bake crab cakes until golden and set (about 12-16 minutes depending on your oven).
  7. Serve hot with cocktail sauce (ketchup + horseradish + lemon juice) and a salad. You can’t go wrong.

Leftovers? Oh yea… I had the best Crab Cake Sandwich for work the next day! I think I might just have to go out and get some crab next week to celebrate the ending of the school year!

But by then I will be preparing for our incoming family from Chicago for a three week visit!
Hooray! Gonna be a GREAT summer!