Is It Gluten Free? Archive

Finding Gluten on Labels

Posted April 5, 2014 By Sandy

Finding gluten on labels can be pretty overwhelming if you don’t know what you are looking for!  And, of course, there are many places gluten can hide.

Personally, I try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible.  Thankfully, gluten doesn’t USUALLY hide in raw veggies, gluten-free grains, fruits and other whole foods!

To help clarify, I found a wonderful article on the NFCA (National Foundation of Celiac Awareness) that list some great tips:Finding Gluten on Labels

Tips on Food Labels

– Look for a “gluten-free” claim. These claims are now regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (with full compliance required by August 5, 2014). Food can be identified as “gluten-free” if any gluten in the product is below 20 ppm.

– Gluten-free certification programs provide assurance that a product is made with good gluten-free manufacturing practices, and contains less than 20 ppm of gluten. Examples include the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’s Gluten-Free Certification Program and the Gluten Intolerance Group’s Gluten-Free Certification Organization. If a product is certified gluten-free, then it is safe for a person with celiac disease to eat.

-Valid gluten-free claims include: “gluten-free”, “free of gluten”, “no gluten” and “without gluten”. Claims such as “made with no gluten-containing ingredients” and “not made with gluten-containing ingredients” do not have to comply with the 20 ppm rule.

– If there is no “gluten-free” claim, or if the product has not been certified as gluten-free, you will have to carefully go through the ingredient list to identify any obvious sources of gluten, and any hidden sources of gluten.

– Remember that gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats (unless they are pure, uncontaminated oats).

– If you do not see wheat on the package, then you must carefully examine the ingredient statement for the other sources of gluten: barley, rye and oats (unless they are pure, uncontaminated oats).

If you see any of these on the label, the food is not safe for you. However, these are not always easy to identify. Look for words like:

– malt

– Brewer’s yeast

– Hordeum vulgare (barley)

– Secale cereal (rye)

– In the United States, companies are not required to list the components of ingredients such as “natural flavor”, “color” or “spice” (unless it is a major allergen, e.g. wheat.) If you see any of these words on the package, exercise caution and consider calling the manufacturer to find out what makes up these ingredients.

– Also look for advisory labels. These are warnings, such as “this product may contain wheat”, that companies voluntarily put on products where there may be a risk of cross-contamination with an allergen. These would likely only identify wheat, not other sources of gluten.


You might also want to check out their article:  Where Gluten Likes to Hide

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Identifying Gluten

Posted February 15, 2014 By Sandy

Identifying gluten in your foods can be very challenging.  Gluten comes in so many different forms and under so many different names that the average person can easily become confused.

We all know to avoid wheat, barley and rye, but are these the only places to find gluten?

Following is a list of food containing gluten that you may not be aware of:

  • Spelt, kamut, triticale (a combination of wheat and rye), durum,  farina, cake flour, matzo (or matzah), bran, couscous,  semolina — all are forms of wheat or gluten!
  • More forms of wheat:  Orzo, couscous, einkorn, farro, seitan, and freekahGrains 2
  • Wheat starch, modified wheat starch, hydrolyzed wheat protein and pre–gelatinized wheat
  • Barley malt syrup, malt extract, malt flavoring and malt vinegar.
  • Licorice, imitation crab meat, beer, most is fermented from barley.
  • Any breaded food or vegetables
  • Processed foods containing soy sauces or teriyaki sauces

Also, gluten MAY BE found in some of the following:

  • Dextrin, flavorings, modified food starch and caramel coloring
  • Oats (unless specifically marked gluten free)
  • Processed cheeses
  • Seasoning, seasoning mixes and soy sauces
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) and Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP)
  • Artificial or natural flavorings

Gluten can also be found in the following non-food items:

  • Pharmaceuticals, including some vitamins
  • Lotions, Soaps, Face washes, Shampoo, Hair Products, Hair Spray, Makeup and other cosmetics, Play dough and other clay modeling toys, Dental pastes and creams

Do not become overwhelmed at the lists above.  With a little work, you can quickly become familiar with these “hidden” names.  Personally, I avoid processed foods — especially those with ingredients I am unfamiliar with.

As a substitute, try some of the following gluten free grains:

  • Amaranth, Buckwheat, Cornmeal, Job’s Tears, Millet, Montina Ryegrass, Gluten Free Oats, Quinoa, Rice, Sorghum, and Teff
  • See my mini-website:  Gluten Free Grains for more info and recipes

NOTE:  For more information, check out:

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Gluten Intolerance Group Meeting

Posted August 31, 2013 By Sandy

Sorry, I missed my post last week.  We were on a mini vacation with my step granddaughters in Spokane, 150 miles away.  While we were in Spokane, we took in a meeting and picnic with the Gluten Intolerance Group of Spokane.  Since we live a distance away, we don’t get to meet with these folks very often, but were happy we made this meeting.

The picnic was delicious — so many different options — and I did not need to worry about which were Gluten Free or not!  There were a few meat dishes, but most were vegan as well.  For the first time in years, I ate without worrying or asking if this dish or that dish had gluten in it!!  I was in Gluten Free heaven!!

After the evening picnic, a presentation was given by Cynthia Kupper, the head of Cynthia Kupperthe international Gluten Intolerance Group.  Cynthia, who has been involved with the GIG for over 17 years, gave an excellent presentation — mostly about understanding the new Gluten Free labeling regulations.

Before I share what she said, this is some of the programs GIG is involved in, according to their website:

What are GIG’s industry programs?

1. Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is the first and foremost gluten-free certification program in the world that has deemed more than 10,000 products produced in 15 countries safe for gluten-free persons to consume. Its GF logo signifies the independent verification of product quality, integrity and purity. Companies such as ConAgra Mills, Hains Celestial and Natures Path have GFCO certified products. Please visit for additional information.

2. Gluten-Free Food Service (GFFS)  is a management accreditation program designed to work with all types of food service establishments that serve gluten-free consumers. This program uses training and management strategies to teach employees proper techniques for gluten-free food preparation. Companies such as the Gaylord Resorts, Erlanger Health System and The University of Chicago Medical Center participate in this program. Please visit for more information.

Cynthia has really expanded the organization since the original founder passed away in 1996.

So, here are some of the points she shared with us about what to look for with Gluten Free labeling:

  1. GIG Certification:  Each ingredient used in a product is tested at no more than 10 parts per million for gluten.  Best and highest foods for safety.
  2. FDA Certification:  20 parts per million of gluten allowable.
  3. Allergen statements:  Often are not 100% accurate when they say “May contain barley, oats, rye or wheat” as companies often use that to protect themselves.  Check the label for gluten ingredients and/or the manufacturer to determine if the product is safe.
  4. USDA logo:  Watch for starch or starch ingredients that may contain gluten.
  5. ATF (alcohol, tobacco and firearms):  Regulates beer — most of which contain gluten.

Cynthia also shared some new research that indicates that gluten sensitivity MAY BE due to a carbohydrate issue rather than a protein issue.  More studies need to be done before an accurate conclusion can be made.

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Giving Up Dairy

Posted April 10, 2013 By Sandy

We spent the last two weeks talking about Cow’s Milk vs. Non-Dairy Milk, Part One and Part Two.  But what about Giving Up Dairy all together?  If cow’s milk is not good for you, neither is cheese, ice cream, sour cream, …..

My favorite article on this subject comes from Dr. Mark Hyman.  He writes a very lengthy article on the fallacies of the food pyramid and quotes Walter Willett, M.D., Ph.D (the second-most-cited scientist in all of clinical medicine and the head of nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health) views on dairy:

Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at all Costs

1. Milk doesn’t reduce fractures. Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk. In fact, according to the Nurses’ Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent!

2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.

3. Calcium isn’t as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.

4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Plus, dairy consumption increases the body’s level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) — a known cancer promoter.

5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn’t. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

6. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance.

So, now you know that dairy is not good for you and you should avoid it as much as possible (of course, if you are vegan, you are probably already doing that!).  But what do you do to replace dairy.    Here are a few recommendations from Lindsay Nixon from Happy Herbivore:

How to Give Up Cheese, Yogurt, etc.

1. Know your motivation. Keep in mind why you’re dumping dairy (see above).

2. Willpower. Know that you’re going to have to fight off an addiction. There will be a withdrawal — stay strong and break the cycle.

3. Find substitutes. Find vegan cheese and dairy substitutes to help make the transition easier. Find a non-dairy milk you like. If you liked whole milk, try almond milk. If you liked skim milk, try rice milk. Try different brands and different milks — soy, almond, rice, sweetened, unsweetened. You will find one you like.

Try different cheese substitutes (just make sure it’s vegan. Some rice, soy, and almond-based cheeses contain casein or whey, milk proteins). The most popular brand is Daiya. Other brands include Tofutti and Follow Your Heart.Gluten Free Vegan Substitutes

I have just released a digital guide, How to Replace Gluten, Dairy and Eggs in Your Diet, that lists numerous tips to help you along.  Order a copy today!

If you are interested in more information from either Dr. Mark Hyman or Dr. Walter Willett, check out the links below:


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Cow’s Milk vs Non-Dairy Milks, Part Two

Posted April 3, 2013 By Sandy

Last week we talked about Cow’s Milk and some of the reasons why dairy is not good for our bodies.  Today, I want to talk about Non-Dairy Milks.

Non-Dairy Milks are plant based milk.  In other words, they are made from plants, nuts and seeds.  Here is a short list of the most popular ones:

  • Almond milkMilk 09
  • Coconut milk (my favorite, by the way)
  • Hazelnut milk
  • Hemp milk (my husband’s favorite)
  • Oat milk (not sure if there is a Gluten Free variety available!)
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk (I don’t recommend soy milk)

Lindsay Nixon, the Happy Herbivore, provides a list of what to look for when buying your non-dairy milk:

1. Make sure the plant-based milk you are using doesn’t contain oil. Refrigerated milks tend to, but shelf-stable do not. The shelf-stable ones also tend to be cheaper, and the great thing about them is you can stock up so you never run out in the middle of the recipe.

2. If you trying to eat a low-fat diet, you might want pick the brand with the lowest amount of fat per serving. This tends to be rice or oat milk, as soy and almonds both are fairly rich in fat naturally. You can, however, find low-fat and fat-free soy milks.

3. Pick the brand with the least number of ingredients.

4. Buy unsweetened if you can. If you need your plant-based milk sweetened, that’s fine. Sugar is a scapegoat, not the biggest concern. A little sweetener in your plant-based milk is nothing to worry about — just make sure you’re buying sweetened plain or vanilla, not chocolate or another flavor, which is basically a candy bar in a glass.

Although, Lindsay and I don’t agree on oil based milk, she has some excellent points for choosing Non Dairy Milk.  (If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you know how much I love coconut products — including coconut milk.)

You can also, easily, make your own Non Dairy Milk.  I have published a complete recipe for making Non Dairy milk here.  My husband, Malcolm, prefers homemade Non Dairy Milk and has developed his own recipe!

If you are interested in more dairy substitutes, I recommend you purchase a copy of my new ebook:

Gluten Free Vegan Substitutes:  How to Replace Dairy and Egg in Your Diet.


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Cow’s Milk vs Non-Dairy Milks, Part One

Posted March 27, 2013 By Sandy

Before we talk about Non-Dairy Milks, let talk about Cow’s Milk.

Even if you are not casein intolerant (that is the main protein in milk) like me, cow milk is just not the best thing to drink.  Despite the hype that the Dairy Counsel has put out for years, the human body was not meant to ingest as much dairy as modern Americans, especially, do today.

Cow 20

According to the Global Healing Center .….

“Ingredients” Added to Cow’s Milk

  • A Veritable Hormone Cocktail: including pituitary, steroid, hypothalamic, and thyroid hormones (remember most cows are extremely stressed)
  • Gastrointestinal Peptides:  Nerve and epidermal growth factors, and the growth inhibitors MDGI and MAF
  • rBGH (Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone): a genetically engineered hormone directly linked to breast, colon and prostrate cancer. This is injected into cows to increase milk production.
  • Pus: National averages show at least 322 million cell-counts of pus per glass! This is well-above the human limit for pus-intake, and has been directly linked to paratuberculosis bacteria, as well as Crohn’s disease. The pus comes from infected udders on the cows known as mastitis.
  • Blood Cells: The USDA allows up to 1.5 million white blood cells per milliliter of commonly-sold milk. Yes, you are drinking cows blood in the milk and the USDA allows this!
  • Antibiotics: Currently, cows are in such a state of disease and mistreatment that they are continually being injected with antibiotic medicines, and rubbed down with chemical-laden ointments to deal with their chronic infections. Currently, regulating committees only test for 4 of the 85 drugs in dairy cows. This means that the other 81 drugs in cow’s milk are coming directly into your glasses and bodies. Estimates show that 38% of milk in the U.S. is “contaminated with sulfa drugs or other antibiotics,” according to a study by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest and published in the Wall Street Journal on December 29, 1989. A study from the FDA data showed that over half of all milk was laden with traces of pharmaceuticals yet nothing has been done to control this.

If that isn’t enough to turn you off from drinking Cow’s Milk, here is more information from Micheal Dye as quoted by Organic Baby:

In addition to the difference in the amount of protein in these two different types of milk, there are also major differences in the composition of this protein. The primary type of protein in cow’s milk is casein. Cow’s milk has 20 times as much casein as human milk, which makes the protein from cow’s milk difficult or impossible for humans to assimilate, according to Dr. John R. Christopher, N.D., M.H.

One of the biggest lies we have been told is that we need milk because of the high amount of calcium in cows milk.  In Dr. Robert Kadijan’s Letter to His Patients, he states:

And no doubt about it, milk is loaded with calcium.  But is it a good calcium source for humans?  I think not.  These are the reasons.  Excessive amounts of dairy products actually interfere with calcium absorption.  Secondly, the excess of protein that the milk provides is a major cause of the osteoporosis problem.  Dr.  Hegsted in England has been writing for years about the geographical distribution of osteoporosis.  It seems that the countries with the highest intake of dairy products are invariably the countries with the most osteoporosis.  He feels that milk is the cause of osteoporosis.

These are just a few of the facts about the dangers of Cow’s Milk and milk products.

Next week, we will talk about Non-Dairy Milks.


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Grains and Gluten Intolerance

Posted February 27, 2013 By Sandy

If wheat, rye and barley are the main grains with gluten, how about other grains?  Can you still eat Grains with Gluten Intolerance?

First off, grains and processed foods made with grains is not quite the same thing.  According to one of my favorite experts on the Gluten Free issues, Dr. Vikki Petersen:

Should Celiacs (or Gluten Intolerants) Eat dr_vikki1-227x300Grain?

A whole, organic grain is a beautiful complex carbohydrate that the body burns cleanly for good energy. The refined version (like those in processed foods) spikes blood sugar, creating an insulin response, inflammation, weight gain and, over time, degenerative disease. So as you can see they are vastly different!

If you are keeping track of the GMO issues, you know that corn and soy are mostly GMO now (unless marked organic or non-GMO).  Personally, I don’t eat soy and I watch for homegrown or organic corn.  Also, I don’t eat corn as a vegetable — I eat it as a grain in cereal, baked goods, etc. — but mostly as my favorite snack:  Popcorn!!

And even though oats are not considered a gluten grain, they are often processed in the same facilities as wheat; thus are often contaminated.  Oats processed in a gluten free environment will be marked as such and are safe for folks avoiding gluten.

Dr. Petersen goes on to explain:
Another facet of grains to be aware of is how they may fall into the category of cross-reactive foods as it relates to gluten intolerance. These particular foods, chiefly dairy products and grains,  have a similar protein structure to gluten and can create stress for certain patients whose immune system is unable to differentiate between these foods and gluten. Yes, the foods are, themselves, gluten-free. But in susceptible individuals the protein structure is similar enough to gluten to confuse the immune system into thinking it actually IS gluten. ….

When I was first tested for food allergies, my profile for dairy products showed a high susceptibility for an allergic reaction.  So along with wheat and gluten, I eliminated dairy (and eggs — which also was listed high) from my diet.  Now, after nearly four years, I have been slowing adding some occasional dairy into my diet.  I felt that my body needed LOTS of time to recover from the gluten damage.  But since I have seen a great improvement in my health during the last several months, I have been a bit more lenient with dairy and eggs.

Dr. Petersen concludes her article  ….

Where that leaves us is that there is no ‘pat’ answer to the question of grains being acceptable or not. But I do disagree with a viewpoint that eschews all grains for everyone. I find that not only unnecessary, but many gluten-free grains in their organic, whole form are very nutritious. These include rice, tef, quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, tapioca, arrowroot – the last few are not actual ‘grains’ but they are treated as such in many grain-rich gluten free foods.

Which grains do you eat?

My favorites are quinoa and rice (not including my organic popcorn!) although I do occasionally eat teff, millet, amaranth and buckwheat.

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Arsenic in Rice — An Alternative Approach!

Posted October 24, 2012 By Sandy

You may remember back in February we posted an article about Arsenic in Rice.  At the time, it was the most widely read article on this blog with searches coming in from all over the internet.

Of course, this was very impactful to the Gluten Free Vegan community as we tend to consume lots of rice.  Well, thankfully, there are studies going on that are looking that this problem and looking for solutions.

One of my favorite doctors on the subject is Dr Vikki Petersen with the Health Now Medical Center in California.  She recently published an article on Arsenic in Rice:  A Clinical Nutrition Report.  Here are some of her comments:

Just when you think you’ve found a great food, someone has to go and rain on your parade. …

Rice is grown in water and the grain has a high affinity for arsenic found in water. It’s just a characteristic of the grain. …

Is arsenic bad for you? In high amounts it definitely is toxic and according to the FDA, long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic is associated with increased rates of skin, bladder and lung cancers, as well as heart disease. In children, high levels are known to lower IQ and hinder intellectual function. Do notice the bold above –” long term exposure to high amounts”. That is what needs to be determined. Does the amount of rice that you or your family is consuming equate itself to high amounts that will have an adverse effect on your health? Or, an equally important question: Are the small amounts that are being ingested enough to accumulate in the body over time to create health problems? …

There are some things you can do to lessen your exposure to arsenic while still enjoying your rice.

  1. Find out where the rice is grown. Rice hailing from Thailand (Thai jasmine) and India (Indian basmati) had some of the lowest levels found – ½ to 1/3 of the amount of American rice. Within the US, the southeastern states grow, unfortunately, rice with some of the highest amounts of arsenic.  … Rice grown in California is a much better bet due to not having arsenic-laden soil.
  2. Unfortunately, the nutrient laden brown rice has higher arsenic levels than its white counterpart. The polishing process that white rice undergoes removes the surface layer, or bran, of the grain providing a reduction in the arsenic level. One report cited the bran to have 10 to 20 times higher amounts of arsenic than the remaining grain. …
  3. Happily, one nice fix is quite easily accomplished. Wash the rice before cooking it and then cook it in extra water (4:1 or 6:1 ratio)– pour this water off before serving. According to Consumer Reports this process can remove about 30% of the arsenic. Yay!
  4. Variety is the spice of life. Just the way I encourage my patients to eat a broad array of fruits and vegetables, so too should you consume variety in your grains. …
  5. Organic rice vs. inorganic? While you would hope that organic would provide some benefit, that has not necessarily been found to be the case as regards arsenic levels. …
  6. Lastly, young infants and children are likely more at risk than adults. Why? The detoxification pathways by which the adult body rids itself of arsenic are not developed adequately to perform that function in young children. …

Dr. Vikki sites some interesting facts and ways to still enjoy rice.

I appreciate her comment “Variety is the spice of life. Just the way I encourage my patients to eat a broad array of fruits and vegetables, so too should you consume variety in your grains.”

Exactly the way I approach these types of issues.  So many of the reports that come out are really slanted to drive fear into the consumer.   If a particular product is a problem, just don’t eat it often!  (Of course, I am not talking about food allergens — they have to be completely avoided).

What are your thoughts?



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My Pantry — Flours

Posted October 20, 2012 By Sandy

After finding out I was gluten free, out went all the flour which were all wheat based!  But I found there is a whole array of gluten free flours that are wonderful – and taste good too.

Following is a list of the most common gluten free flours:


Beans & Nut flours

Most gluten free flours alone cannot mimic the properties of wheat flour.  Gluten Free Flours need to be mixed in different portions to have the right mouth feel, the right texture, and so they rise correctly. Personally, rather than stocking numerous different flours and mixing my own, I typically use a commercially-made gluten free flour mix.

I really like Pamela’s Products Amazing Wheat Free & Gluten-free Bread Mix.  We purchased a 25 lb. bag and I store it in a plastic pail in the freezer.  Pamela’s flour makes great bread!

When I make cookies and desserts, I prefer Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.  Jules flour is not as heavy as the Pamela’s and tastes light in baked goods.

There are lots of other good gluten free flour mixes to chose — these are  just the ones I use.

For gravy or thickening sauces, I have glutinous rice flour on hand.  Add it to cool liquids and it thickens up nicely without add any flavor to your sauces.  I would think that any rice flour would work, but I just happen to use the glutinous rice flour.

I really like Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix, when I make pancakes.  Before I was gluten free, I used Bisquick.  I have not tried their Gluten Free Bisquick, but have a box on hand and am anxious to see how it tastes!

Occasionally, I enjoy playing around with other flours.  My husband bought a bag of Mommas, Gluten Free Coconut Blend All Purpose Flour, but we really haven’t used it yet.

Since becoming gluten free, I don’t bake as much as I use to. Special occasions and holidays, I will bring out the flour.  Of course, when I bake bread, I use quite a bit of it.  I notice I feel better when I don’t over do the baked goods.  I like eating my grains whole …. so we will talk about grains in my pantry in another post!

If you are interested in learning more about flours and baking bread, check out my Squidoo lens:


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Benefits of Quinoa

Posted October 17, 2012 By Sandy

Quinoa is my favorite grain.  I think I like it better than rice or corn!  One of the reasons why I like it so much is because it is so versatile:  You can eat it for breakfast, for lunch or for dinner!

The Benefits of Quinoa are overwhelming — Quinoa is more beneficial than any other grain.  Finding Quinoa was one of the most important side effect of becoming Gluten Free!!

The Made Just Right by Earth Balance website/blog featured an article on Quinoa that is very interesting and informative.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

5 Benefits of Quinoa for Vegan, Gluten Free Diets is considered a complete protein because it contains all essential amino acids. is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have important anti-inflammatory (and more!) properties is a good source of the antioxidant, Vitamin E is high in nutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and zinc (many with Celiac disease lack some of these nutrients) is high in dietary fiber (36% soluble, 64% insoluble)

The articles goes on to explain how to prepare and cook Quinoa.  Make sure to check out the extra tips included in the original article.

Personally, I eat Quinoa as a breakfast cereal.  Just cook up a cup or so, add coconut milk, raisins, and cinnamon and enjoy!

My favorite Quinoa recipe, by far, is Quinoa Tabouli Salad which works great as a lunch dish.

For dinner (or supper), Bell Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa sounds delicious

Gluten Free Vegan Living has lots of recipes and posts about Quinoa.  What is your favorite way to eat Quinoa?

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