Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hanukkah: Basic Kasha Recipe

It's both amazing and frightening how many people seem to be diagnosed with being Celiac these days. The list of people I know who are now restricted to following the gluten-free diet has grown immensely over the past two years. Years ago, before I even knew what the word "gluten" meant, my grandfather was diagnosed with Celiac disease. At the time there was very little public information about the disease, which left my family worried, confused, and frustrated about how my grandfather would be able to follow the restrictive diet, as well as how we would conduct our holiday dinners. We fretted about what we would serve at the many Jewish high holidays that we celebrate, concerned about my grandfather feeling left out of enjoying the dishes containing wheat, and concerned about the labour of preparing two separate meals. It was certainly a struggle at first, but as more information on Celiac disease became public and as more products were brought on the market, we finally got the hang of it.

Now after many years of my grandfather following the diet, I can actually appreciate how it has positively impacted not only my grandfathers health, but our entire family! Take a look at our Hanukkah dinner this year. Abundant and delicious, at first view our Hanukkah dinner looks just like any other holiday feast, but upon further inspection you can see the difference. Roast chicken, quinoa, spinach salad, fresh veggies, gluten free agave nectar honey cake, and a favourite of my sister's, Kasha. Kasha was our saviour in those early days of struggling with Celiac as it was a familiar dish that we had already been serving up and enjoying for years, and being gluten free, quickly became a staple at all of our family gatherings. Kasha is a type of whole roasted buckwheat with a natural nutty flavour, that when cooked with flavourful broth, onions, veggies, and herbs becomes a hearty and comforting side dish for everyone in the family! Even as children, my parents were thrilled that my sister and I enjoyed the simple side dish, happy that we were so enthusiastic about eating something so healthy. We grew to love kasha so much that it even started to make an appearance at our Christmas dinners as well! If you're familiar with Kasha you may be rolling your eyes that I'm even featuring a recipe for it, because it is truly so unbelievably easy to prepare. In fact, I don't do or add anything special to my kasha, I simply follow the box. That's all it takes. I simply wanted to feature Kasha on my blog so that those who are unfamiliar with the grain can begin cooking with it and have another gluten free alternative rather than everyones favourite go-to at the moment quinoa (which don't get me wrong, I love!). I hope that introducing kasha into your diet will help to ease the pressure of eating healthy and following a restrictive diet. Let me know if you come up with any other interesting ways of preparing Kasha!

Tip: Experiment! Play around with what veggies, herbs, and other ingredients you have around your kitchen to see what type of kasha you can come up with! And please share your findings in the comments section!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small-medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
2 cups chicken-or-vegetable-or-beef broth
2 tbsp butter
1 cup kasha
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

1. In a medium sauce pan heat the olive oil at medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they begin to get soft. Add the mushrooms and carrots and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes.

2. Add the broth and butter to the sauce pan and increase heat to bring to a boil. Add the kasha, salt, and pepper and stir.

3. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed.

4. Lightly fluff the kasha with a fork and stir in the fresh parsley. Serve warm.

Listening To:
Etta James - I'd Rather Go Blind

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