Sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches they are everywhere and if your trying to avoid the glutinous grain it can sometimes be tricky when you are out and about. This does not mean it is impossible, sometimes it just means a little more thought goes into planning your day. One of the things I like to do is make sure I have a selection of what I call “lunchables” ready to go in the fridge. You know like the “Pig Candy” or some Feta cheese, Olives, nuts & seeds, boiled eggs, smoked Mackerel, Sardines or sliced meat left-overs from the night before, a few leaf varieties – like Kale, Chard, Spinach or Watercress, a box of shredded coleslaw mix ready to dress with home made mayo – all easy to mix & match – variety is key! One of the best things I ever bought was a food processor it makes life so easy – you can shred veggies, grind nuts, blend sauces super quick and a little prep on a Sunday night for the week ahead goes a long way. I will also sometimes cook up a big batch of Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) which is similar in texture to Cous Cous (which of course is a big no no for us GF folk) but rather than it being a grain it is in fact a seed:
As a result it makes it far superior to Cous Cous (or rice even) as it is low GI, high in protein, and Riboflavin. It has a nutty kind of flavour but is neutral enough that it can take on a variety of flavours savoury or sweet. One of my favourite breakfast/desert things to do with it, is mix it (cooked Quinoa) with a little Cacao powder, warmed Coconut cream, berries, toasted seeds and honey! “Hello Yumminess!”
But I digress – back to the savoury lunch box! So a classic summer recipe is Tabouleh and this is traditionally made with Bulgar Wheat (which is a no no for us GF folk) it usually has mint, spring onions and cucumber in it – this works really well with the Quinoa, dressed with fresh lemon juice, salt, black pepper and lots of Olive Oil.
Quinoa is readily available in most supermarkets now and is really easy and quick to prepare. Most important is to rinse the Quinoa thoroughly with cold water before cooking – if you miss this stage you will find the taste can be quite bitter.
Put in a pan and cover until an inch above the line of the Quinoa with cold water. Set on the stove and heat over a medium temperature – bring it up to boil and then turn the heat down and allow to simmer. This should take about 6-7minutes and when the seeds have just started to “split” like this:
Then turn the heat off and put the lid on – this allows the rest of the liquid in the pan to be absorbed and for the Quinoa to finish cooking with the steam left in the pan. This makes a lovely alternative to rice or pasta with a drizzle of Olive oil. For salad use allow it to cool before adding the additional flavours.
For a more substantial salad, I like to roast some Red Peppers, Red Onions, and Aubergine with a little light Olive Oil and a few sprigs of fresh Thyme or Rosemary (roughly chopped and roasted at about 180c for about 40mins). Allow to cool and add to the cooked and cooled Quinoa. Then it is all about adding the layers of flavour, next up is some crumbled Feta cheese (classic salty goat & sheeps milk cheese), followed by some fresh shredded mint, black pepper and a good dose of Extra Virgin Olive oil, and then to really make this salad rock, throw in some toasted Pine Nuts, Sunflower seeds and Pumpkin seeds. Toasting these little guys really intensifies the flavours and turns any lifeless salad into a thing of glory! This is the kind of salad that can liven up the side dish element of a BBQ or Picnic gathering and offers a substantial dish for any vegetarian guests, but the best thing is, it lasts a few days in the fridge ready to fill your lunch box!
Toasted seeds easy peasy! In a dry frying pan over a medium heat add the seeds of choice – best to do them separately as they tend to toast at different speeds. Watch them closely and toss them around in the pan occasionally to get the colour fairly even all over – once they start to get colour they can turn very quickly and start to burn. The Pumpkin & Sunflower seeds actually make a crackling sound and continue “chatting” once you have taken them off the heat! And what about a lovely alternative to popcorn – drizzle with a touch of Olive oil or melted goat butter & a sprinkle of sea salt – low GI and far more nutritous and filling!
Seeds pack a powerful punch in their health giving benefits:
Pumpkin seeds are the only alkaline forming seeds which is great in helping balance the body. They are filled with lots of minerals including phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, vitamin K and high in Zinc. They are anti-parasitic! They also contain L-tryptophan, which helps with good sleep and lowering depression. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin and niacin. Serotonin is also very helpful in helping us to have a good night’s sleep. So they really would be a better option served at cinemas as an alternative to the low nutrient, high GI Popcorn!
Pinenuts: Rich in Vitamin A and lutein, both of which are known to support sharper vision. High in Vitamin D (strong bones) vitamin C (happy immune system!) and Iron (good news for the circulatory and nervous system.) The protein and magnesium in pine nuts makes them an excellent source of energy, so whenever you’re feeling tired, pop a few and feel like new!
Sunflower Seeds not bad either! Very good source of vitamin E “Hello younger looking skin!” In addition, sunflower seeds are a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and folate. Ever tried Sunbutter? Recipe coming soon! Awesome snack buddy! 🙂