Thursday, August 2, 2012

Quinoa (Mac) 'n Cheese

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Quinoa; Cheese; Tomatoes; Leeks

I haven't mentioned this before, but I suffer from really chronic migraine headaches.  The people who know me well are thinking to themselves right now, "actually yeah, you've mentioned that like, I dunno, a trillion times," but what I meant was that I've never mentioned it on here.  

These migraine headaches have been going on since I was in my late teens or early 20's.  It sucks.  And I have tried everything, and I mean everything, to try to find a cure for these things.  Here is the list of everything that I have experimented with:

*Various medications
*Chiropractic treatment
*Massage therapy
*Craniosacral therapy (weeeeeird)
*Sessions with at least two or three different naturopathic doctors
*All sorts of tests on my head to make sure I'm ok
*Using a netty pot.  Yep.
*Food sensitivity testing
*Blood tests
*Food eliminations, including cutting out dairy, sugar, garlic, wine, etc.
*Botox injections into forehead (for real)
*Best Doctors service
*Ophthalmologist visits
*Laser eye surgery
*Regular exercise (for a short period of time in my life anyway)
*Bikram yoga
*Neurologist visits
*Headache Specialist visits
*Hours of research
*And, I'm sure, there's stuff that I'm forgetting too.

It's been an interesting and frustrating experience, and I unfortunately haven't had success with any of these treatments.  Sigh.  Craniosacral therapy, by the way, is a total crock (in my opinion).  Also, did you know that there are migraine drugs on the market that cause rapid (as in I dropped 20 pounds in a little over a month) weight loss, but the second side effect is that they also make you really, really, really dumb while you are taking them.  So stupid that you can't even formulate sentences properly, but don't even notice (is it ironic that this sentence here is technically poorly constructed?).  We called that time in my life my 'supermodel' period because I was also trying out the Botox injections to see if those would help, so I was skinny, without forehead wrinkles, and dumb.  It was kind of fun.

I realized the other day that there is something that I haven't tried though, which is to eliminate gluten.  I have a friend who was a fellow migraine sufferer who cut out gluten back in December and has had minimal problems since.  I've tested negative for Celiac Disease and a wheat allergy, but so did my friend, so I figure it's worth a shot anyways.

So, I am cutting out gluten from July 30 to August 30 in hopes that I will see some improvement.  It's the end of Day 3 and so far I have only had a migraine on Day 1...only time will tell if this 'two-day streak' will continue!  I'm enjoying my Brown Rice Gluten-free Rice Krispies for breakfast, and not enjoying avoiding beer (although will be doing a little shopping for gluten-free beer at the liquor store this week!  Any suggestions?).    

I also went out for dinner with some girlfriends tonight to Brown's Social House and we finagled the server into bringing us the 'Staff Use Only' internal document 'Gluten-Free Options' list from the kitchen (I will post this on Twitter this week for all those gluten-free Brown's lovers!  @PlayingWMFood).  Yum.

There are some awesome gluten-free recipes out there, including this Quinoa "Mac" 'n Cheese that The Hubby and I ate for dinner on Monday night.  I found the recipe on Pinterest, and traced it back to its original source, Monica Nelson Fitness.  It's....yum.   I will definitely be making this again.  I added tomatoes and leeks as the vegetable factor in this recipe, but you could really add any vegetable (or none at all), and it would work.  Next time I'm thinking broccoli.  Or cauliflower.  No, definitely broccoli.

Now that I'm a newbie to the gluten-free life (perhaps visiting this world only temporarily and perhaps camping out forever), I would love to hear all of your tips on what the best products are, where to get them, great recipes, etc.  Please leave a comment - thanks!

Now, for the recipe:

Quinoa (Mac) 'N Cheese

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
3 cups water or stock
2 tsp. olive oil
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, halved length-wise then sliced
1/2 tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1 cup skim milk
2 cups your favourite grated cheese (I used light old cheddar)
Additional cheese if you want to sprinkle some on top
Non-gluten free option:  Bread crumbs for topping (or gluten-free bread crumbs)

Rinse and drain quinoa.  Put quinoa, seasoning salt, and water or stock into a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and let simmer until all liquid is evaporated, about 20 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a medium pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add sliced leek, tomato, and garlic, and saute until leeks are soft, about 5 - 10 minutes.

Pour leek, tomato and garlic mixture into the quinoa.

In a medium bowl, mix eggs, milk, and cheese.  Pour into the quinoa mixture and combine.  Pour into a greased 8 x 11 inch baking dish.  If you are adding additional cheese or bread crumbs, sprinkle this on top now.  Bake at 350F for 25 - 30 minutes, or until browned around edges.   Enjoy!

Serves:  4 - 6

The Hubby's Review:  Kind of like a casserole.  And I love casseroles.

Adapted from:  Monica Nelson Fitness



  1. I love eating gluten free. My tummy feels so much better. Trader Joes has great gluten free pastas that seem to cook in less time than many other brands, and I personally do like the taste of all brown rice pasta. If you are looking to cut out the fat content there are some great vegan "cheese" sauces out there to make as well. I made gluten, dairy, wheat, egg free mac & cheez for the family a while ago. They loved it.. except that Henry (6 yrs old) said "this kinda tastes like macaroni and cheese without the cheese". Hmm, can't fool him!

    1. Nadia - how long have you been gluten-free for? I will check out Trader Joe's! Are they all brown rice pastas, or other grains too? Too funny about Henry - I can't cut out dairy because it's my favourite food group...haha! It's now Day 9, and so far so good with the gluten-free diet. I only had a migraine on Day 1 and haven't had one since. My tummy feels better too. Thanks for the tips...keep em coming! :)

  2. So I obviously don't get a lot of time to check blogs, nor did I get notified that you wrote a response ;p
    I was gluten free for about a year, then earlier this year with life just getting more hectic, traveling, etc etc I fell off the wagon! However, I have been back on track more so lately. I don't recall what other grains Trader Joes might have for pasta, but I did just find penne at Costco that is quinoa & brown rice. It's quite good. I'd really like to go vegan and gluten free but that'll require lots of research and an arsenal of recipes so I won't struggle cooking for the family day to day.


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