Support the Work

If you have found the information on this blog useful, enjoyable, candid, or inspirational ... help keep it reader supported, journalistically driven, available to all, and advertiser-free. If you are able and inspired to do so, please consider a subscription to this blog. You can drop a dime or two every month, every year, or whenever you feel moved.

It will keep me writing, gathering facts, and interviewing the experts.




Parent / Sponsor



Join The Email List

Get Tastiness to Your Inbox

* indicates required

A blog about all things allergen-free and delicious

Entries in quinoa (4)


Help! I'm Vegan and Can't Eat Soy. How Do I Get Enough Protein?


Getting Protein from Veggies, Seeds, & Fruit

Are you following a vegetarian or vegan diet and have found that you cannot tolerate soy products? Don’t worry--while soy products are high in protein and often considered a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets, you can absolutely get enough protein and variety without soy as part of your diet. 
The thing to keep in mind is that all foods, even fruit, contain a certain amount of protein. The key is to choose the foods that are highest in protein per serving in their category.

Here are 3 ways for a vegan to get enough protein without using soy products:

  1. Beans are your Friend: With all of the soy products out there, it can be difficult to remember that soy is just a little ol’ bean. And just like soy, starchy beans, like pinto are a wonderful source of protein. While soy is the bean highest in protein content, fava beans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans are very close in their protein content per serving.
  2. Go for High Protein Vegetables: Vegetables also contain protein. Peas, Broccoli, Spinach, Artichokes and Potatoes (yes, potatoes—isn’t that the best news?) all have a decent amount of protein per serving.
  3. Hurray for Seeds: Some of the highest protein ‘grains’ aren’t grains at all—they are seeds. Quinoa, Buckwheat, Amaranth, Millet and Teff. All of these seeds have more protein per serving than rice.


Quinoa Pumpkin Seed Salad

Serves 4-6

This delicious, high-protein salad featuring quinoa and black beans is one of my most requested recipes. 
1 cup dry red quinoa, rinsed well (or 2 cups cooked red quinoa)
2 cups water
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 scallions, sliced
1 15-oz can black beans, drained
1 red bell pepper, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
In a saucepan, boil water and add quinoa, lower heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.  Allow to cool at least to room temperature before continuing (or use precooked quinoa and skip this step).
In a bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, cumin, and chili powder. Pour over quinoa and stir in cilantro, scallions, beans and peppers, mixing thoroughly.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate until service.  Right before serving, stir in pumpkin seeds.

About Chef Jenny Brewer

Jenny Brewer is a nutritionist and chef who teaches people how to cook healthy foods that taste delicious. Visit her site at for delicious healthy recipes, meal plans and cooking inspiration.






See More of Jenny's Posts

Not Your Mamma's Chocolate Mousse Tart (super allergen-free)

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup (Vegan, DF, GF, Soy-free, Nut-free)

Plans Your Meals, Change Your Life!



Quinoa Power Breakfast with Cinnamon, Raisins & Strawberries

One thing about quinoa, is that if you make it for dinner, you can make a little extra and use it for a completely different dish the next day.  If you make this tasty Spicy Quinoa, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad, or if you use water for this Quinoa Hash with Cumin and Sweet Peppers, make one more cup of cooked quinoa and put it aside for breakfast tomorrow.

Or simply make a few cups and warm it up for breakfast for a few days in a row.  As Autumn peeks around its seasonal corner, some hearty high protein Inca Gold, can truly be the breakfast of champions, and a fantastic gluten-free replacement for oatmeal.


Soak 1 cup of quinoa in water for 5 minutes.  Run through a very fine stainer and rinse until the water is clear.  Put into a medium/large saucepan.

Add to 2 1/4 cups of water and bring the entire mixture to boil. Then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.  White halos will appear around the grains when the quinoa is done. There needs to be a little liquid in the cereal to soak up the flax seed.

Add in 1/2 cup of ground flax seed.

Add 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

Organic black raisins (my favorite)

And continue cooking for 1 more minute until the flavors are mixed and the raisins warm.

Spoon into bowls and top with fresh, cold strawberries.

Top with 1 or 2 TBS of real maple syrup.  (I mean grade B or C.  No high fructose corn syrup should be anywhere on the label.)


I love the cold, fresh fruit over the hot quinoa.  You can use any seasonal fruit that sounds good to you.  Blueberies, raspberries, even peaches.  Any left overs will keep 2-3 days.  Enjoy!  and post your breakfast quinoa favorites!



Recipe: Quinoa Hash with Cumin & Sweet Peppers


The family of enormously chubby ground hogs who live rent-free in my yard, found a way through the fence and into my garden a couple of weeks ago.  They ate nearly everything.   Only a few peppers, most herbs, the arugula (take note, they don't seem to like arugula) and a few tomatoes  survived.   If you understood how much work I put into my garden this year, you'd understand my mood.  This made me blue.  Like purplish blue.  But whenever I get a blow to the spirit, a stint in the kitchen with simple, nurturing recipes makes me human again.  Serving healthy comfort food to people I like, perks me up even more, especially if they enjoy it. 

On The Tender Palate Facebook page, a few Tender Foodies recently asked, "I've never had quinoa!  How do you make it?"  So virtual friends, here is the first of a series of quinoa recipes.

This particular recipe is comforting in summer or winter, and the left overs can be turned into a quick, protein-rich breakfast, too (see below).


What is Quinoa?

Quinoa (say, "keen-wah") is a gluten-free, alkaline grain that is high in manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, phosporous, tryptophan and Riboflavin (Vitamin B2).  Though considered a grain, it is really a seed related to leafy greens like spinach & swiss chard. It has a wonderful nutty flavor and is super tasty in savory & sweet dishes. It also has all 9 of the essential amino acids that we humans need, including lysine, which is important for tissue growth and repair.  Those 9 amino acids make quinoa a complete protein and a fantastic meal.  The Inca Indians called it warrior food, or "Inca Gold" for a reason. 


Rinse & Cook the Quinoa Grain

Rinse 1 cup of raw quinoa in a bowl, then drain using a fine sieve.  Get all of the foam off.  Unwashed, quinoa seeds have a bitter-tasting coating that protects it from being eaten by birds when it is growing in the field.  This coating is called saponin and must be removed before it is cooked and eaten. Most modern quinoa is washed to a degree, so simple rinsing is thought to be adequate.  (More on washing quinoa and its origins).

Toss into a pan with 2 cups of chicken broth* and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until a white ring forms around the outer edges of the grain.  Set aside.  This can be done a day or two ahead.

*Vegetarians can also use vegetable broth.  If you use water, you may need to adjust the seasoning.



2 TBS of good, organic olive oil

2 cups cooked organic quinoa

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped yellow onion

Optional: 2 sweet organic peppers, sliced (purple, red, orange are best.  Green peppers are a little too bitter when cooked for my taste)

1-1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

2 cloves of chopped garlic

Fresh snow peas, ends chopped off

1/2 cup organic chicken broth

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


Prepare the Vegetables & Make the Hash

In a med/large- sized frying pan, heat the olive oil for a minute or so, then toss in the chopped onions and carrots.  Cook on medium high heat for 10 minutes until the carrot is just tender and the onions are soft.  Add the garlic, 2 tsp. of cumin, 1/2 tsp. coriander and 1 tsp. of sea salt and stir in well.  Add the sliced peppers.  Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very tender and a little bit carmelized.

At this point, the pan will be a bit dry.  Don't add oil.  Just add the cooked quinoa and stir in.   Let the quinoa sit on the stove for 1-2 minutes.  If the quinoa starts to get brown, that is great, it will add flavor.  Stir in the 1/2 cup of chicken broth, the remaining 1/2 tsp. of salt and the chopped snow peas.  Cook for 2 more minutes.  Then stir in the chopped basil and cook for 30 seconds or so - just enough time for the flavors to filter through the food.  Taste, adjust and serve hot.


What Do I Do with the Left Overs?

Reheat the Hash with an Egg

If you have left over hash, put a touch of olive oil in a pan, heat it, add the leftover hash and crack an egg or two over it.  Stir in the egg until it's cooked.  It's really good as a hearty breakfast, or as a different, protein rich dinner on night two.



Restaurant: The Green Well -- Treats Foodies with Allergies Right


Off the Menu: Curried Quinoa Hash with Chicken

One of the Few Where Tenders Can Relax & Enjoy

There are only a few places in Grand Rapids where I . . . (a Tender Foodie with food allergies) can relax and simply enjoy my food.  

One of those is The Green Well Gastro Pub in Grand Rapids, MI.

I don't have to be embarrassed.  I don't have to do alot of explaining, checking, double-checking or excusing.  And my dining companions don't have to be embarrassed for me or have their patience sorely tested as I command our server's undivided attention.  I can simply tell my server that I have an allergy to gluten and to dairy.  I have a few other intolerances, too.  But I know that if I speak up, any server and any chef in the kitchen will know what to do. 

When I say I enjoy my food at the Green Well, I mean that.  Each visit has been consistently delicious.  Other restaurants, and there have been many, just remove those "offending ingredients" from the dish.  Or . . . they don't know how to do the simplest things like use oil instead of butter.  Or . . . they don't know that their spices or tenderizers contain gluten or dairy byproducts. You get the picture.

The Green Well chefs, however, really understand their ingredients.  You see, real chefs do.  They know where each ingredient comes from.  They also understand how to replace commonly used ingredients with "something else".  For instance, something that browns well, that adds the same depth of flavor, or that pops just the right amount of that somethin' somethin'. They don't simply follow the formula, they create your dish.


My Delish Dish(es)

So last Friday evenning, even though my friends "oohed" and "ahhed" over their Butternut Squash Ravioli with Candied Walnut Brown Butter, I could revel in my beautiful piece of Trout in a spicey sauce with olives and a vegetable ragout -- sans broccoli (because I hate broccoli and broccoli doesn't like me).   I was surprised that the sauce was as spicey as it was when paired with the trout, but the spice did not over power the fish in any way.  The fish was fresh.  The trout and spices played nicely together on my plate and with my palette.  In fact, I was so excited to dig in, I forgot to take a picture of this beautiful piece of fish for this post.  To my delight, however, the server asked the chef to take a quick shot of a similar plate before it made it to its lucky destination.  He did it.  The trout pictured below is how it was served normally that night.  My dish was made without the goat cheese croquettes and with a sauce that suited my particular allergies. 

 The Trout Special (as it normally appears). My order was prepared without the croquettes and with a sauce that suits my particular allergies.

I had also eaten lunch at the Green Well twice within the last couple of weeks.  You know, "just to be sure".  I asked if I could eat off the menu.  My server on both days said, "Absolutely" and made a suggestion.  So on each occasion I had different versions of a quinoa hash with braised pork.  The first version was nestled in a curry sauce.  It was the ultimate, alternative comfort food with lots of depth as well as protein.  (Who needs mac and cheese?)  The second version was in a milder, but equally delicious concoction with asparagus and snow peas (pictured top). It was lighter, but equally satisfying. 

The two things that have impressed me the most about The Green Well, is their consistency and their ability to work with me.   Prior to the onset of these fabulous food allergies, I was someone who would try pretty much anything.  Food allergies haven't just changed what's on my plate, they have changed my personality.  After becoming a Tender Foodie in 2003, any thoughts of venturing, "off the menu" had become a no-no of life saving proportions.   But now I can say,  "have the chef whip up something tasty" and this freedom makes me feel a little more like "me".  I have a sneaking suspicion that other Tender Foodies understand.

How to Work with the Green Well if you have Food Allergies

Part of my protocol for reviewing any restaurant is to dine there at least twice prior to forming an opinion.  As Member #20 of the restaurant's first customer group, The Green Well Cartel, I have been their guest on several occasions.  But I've watched, I've tested and have observed:  they don't reserve their Tender Hospitality just for "me". 

I spoke with Rob Tamburello, Green Well's General Manager about their standards and practices for Tender Foodies.  I also asked him how people with food allergies can help their kitchen serve these guests well.  He said:

We pride ourselves on being able to provide for any food allergy.  We also have many vegan diners, and will accomodate you even if you simply don't liking something, or have temporary restrictions.  For instance, we've pureed food someone who had a broken jaw.  We've made beef broth for the wife of a diner who was on a 3 month diet.   For special or restricted diets, it's actually easier for the chef to go off the menu and create something new.  You can feel confident that when you come in that we know what we are doing.

Here is a quicklist that summarizes our conversation.

 Green Well FAQ

  • Do they have standards for allergen-free cooking?  Yes.  The Green Well has created their own standard to accommodate different levels of allergies and to ensure that there is no mistake.  They do regular reviews with their staff; and each chef must sign off on their food allergy standards.
  • Do they have a gluten-free deep fryer?  No.  but the Green Well will pan fry or bake certain items that might normally be deep fried.
  • Do they serve gluten-free bread?  Not currently, but they are continually searching for new sources that meet their quality and allergy standards.
  • Is there a separate gluten- or dairy-free menu?  Nearly 90% of the menu can be made gluten- or dairy-free upon request.  Therefore, no separate menu is required.
  • What about nut allergies?  Make sure to call ahead to let the Green Well know you are coming and to discuss your options.  Nuts are a little tougher because so many products are produced with nuts at their processing facilities.

When is it necessary to call ahead?

  • If you are visiting for the first time, it is always a good idea to call a day or two ahead to speak to the manager.  To respect the manager's time and to make sure you can have a good converstaion, try to call when it isn't lunch or dinner hour.
  • If you have a life-threatening, high sensitivity allergy or several food allergies (such as a nut allergy).  The restaurant may need to make special preparations.
  • If you have several food alergies or severe diet restrctions.
  • If you would like something special that might not be on the menu, just to be sure the proper ingredients are in-house. 


The Green Well makes it clear that if you are on a special diet of any kind, that they will work with you to get it right and make it delicious.  They not only can handle it, they want to.  This makes them one of the few.  We like that.