the triumphant return of the groat!

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When I made a seismic shift in my diet two months ago, many were aghast. The top five questions, in no particular order, were (and continue to be) as follows:

1. Aren’t you hungry?
2. No really, aren’t you hungry?
3. So, what do you eat?
4. So, you eat mostly vegetables, because gluten is in everything?
5. So, you can only eat rice and potatoes? Whoa, that’s sad

There’s a thread to these questions–some are filled with curiousity and wonder, and others are trying to imagine the unimaginable–but all of them consider my life change from the perspective of subtraction rather than addition, or dare I even suggest…multiplication. In food, like life, there are additions that are not purely mathematical. For years, I relied on a handful of dishes and foods to sustain me, and know that the irony of this–someone who eats by rote and routine–does not escape me, self-proclaimed foodie. I think it’s because we’re only present for the moment we consume, rarely do consider or tally up the totality of what we’ve consumed until we open our closets one day and collapse under the avalanche of what we’ve collected over time. Until the moment when you fill three huge boxes of food, all of them gluten-based.

Through constraints, you find abundance. You become agile, creative, and I liken this to writing prose, really, because prose requires that you look the world through a different prism. Writing is about what you see when everything else about a object has been stripped away. It’s like looking through the kaleidoscopes you had as a child. The world was filled with color, glass and beads, and as you look through one end, light floods creating patterns based on the reflection off the mirrors. Your whole point of focus has been reduced to the light coming in through the tube, and there were people who recited the list of things they saw, while I always imagined something other. I saw what wasn’t there; I saw the barest thing and from that I fashioned something so far from the collection of random objects. I saw the beauty beneath and beyond, if that makes any sense.

And so after a few weeks of whining and the like (I’ll have you know that my whining now revolves around my skin condition), I decided to reframe and think of all the things I can have. I imagine all the variations on a single food (cauliflower! kale! chickpeas!) and build and mutate, build and mutate, until what I have is so much greater than what I’ve lost. Make sense?

That’s a long-winded way (shocker, this is me we’re talking about) of saying that I can have rice (so many kinds and colors!), lentils (rinse, lather, repeat), quinoa, beans, buckwheat groats, and the list goes on. But beyond that, all the vegetables, meats, fruits, flavors, spices, herbs! It’s like taking a noodle and in one country, it’s Italian, in another it’s Greek, Indian, and so forth.

So I found a few recipes for my beloved groat (ah, the couscous of our gluten-free time!), one of which is this lovely side dish that has a very Indian feel (ginger, turmeric–though, I substituted for curry as I didn’t have turmeric on hand, cinnamon, orange flavors, cilantro), and I plan on hoovering this tonight with vegetables.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Gluten, Wheat, & Dairy Free Cookbook, a gift from my dear friend, Amber. I modified the recipe slightly.
2 cups gluten-free vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups toasted buckwheat groats
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4-inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp turmeric (or curry)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup raisins
2 carrots, coarsely shredded
1/3 cup pine nuts (I nixed this)
Salt + pepper
1/4 cup cilantro and orange zest, for garnish

DIRECTIONS
Bring the stock to a boil and add the groats. Simmer for 5-6 minutes on medium heat. Add one tablespoon of oil, cover, and let cook for 8-10 minutes, until tender and all the water has been absorbed.

Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil and saute the shallots with a pinch of salt over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and slightly browned.

Add the garlic, ginger, and stir for 1 minute. Then, stir in the turmeric (or curry), cinnamon, orange juice, raisins, and cook for 1 minute.

Add the carrots, cooked buckwheat, and pine nuts, and stir until evenly heated. Season to taste with salt + pepper. Add chopped cilantro + orange zest for garnish.

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10 thoughts on “the triumphant return of the groat!

  1. I’ve never heard of groats before. You’re right, they do look like couscous. I love experimenting with different grains (and grain substitutes). There are so many out there! I think my favourite at the moment is millet. Unlike quinoa, it’s not crazy expensive.

    I’ve been limiting my gluten intake, though I’m not 100% gluten free. I really like things that are naturally gluten-free instead of things like gluten free bread, gluten free pasta. I find that gluten free products just make me miss gluten more! Whereas things that are naturally gluten free make me enjoy food.

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    1. They are so wonderful, and packed with so many nutrients!

      It’s interesting, because my food coach told me that people were shocked that they didn’t lose any weight or feel any healthier once they went gluten-free, and it was because they were eating the same level of carbs (so much more than greens and lean meats, legumes, etc), they were just gluten-free. A gluten-free cookie is STILL a cookie. I had to really overhaul how I ate and then I think about WHAT I’m eating and what is the most nutrient-packed option. Sometimes I want plain rice and that’s cool. Other times I want a groat 🙂

      On Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 6:09 PM, love.life.eat wrote:

      >

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      1. I’m definitely eating more vegetable and meats. The less processed the better. I like eating root vegetables instead of carbs. I wouldn’t go gluten free to lose weight, portion control would be more important.

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  2. Totally agree with this post! I recently became a vegetarian for health reasons and my family and friends don’t quite grasp the variety of foods you can still eat. I get asked the exact same questions as you! I try to explain that my food intake has actually diversified a ton since I switched my diet, but they don’t fully understand. Mostly, they just ask if I’m hungry all the time 🙂

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  3. That is just how going sugar free this month has made me feel. There are so many other things I get to eat! Sometimes when you take something away, you gain so much more!

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