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Carol's latest book, Gluten-Free Cooking for Two, is now available. Designed for small households, each perfectly-proportioned recipe serves two people. You will eliminate unwanted leftovers and reduce waste when you cook right-size meals with the 125 recipes in this book. Enjoy!! Celebrate with me!!! Gluten-Free Cooking for Two has won two awards: named one of ten "Best Gluten-Free Cooking Books in 2017" by Healthline.com and won a Silver Medal in the 2017 Living Now Book Awards in the "Natural, Nutrition, Organic, Vegetarian" category.
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Wild Rice Salad for National Nutrition Month

In my continuing promotion of whole grains during March as National Nutrition Month, I want you to try some whole grain salads to boost your intake of whole grains. You might think that cooked grains need to be served hot to be enjoyable, but they are delicious when you treat them like lettuce: tossed with salad dressing and served cold or at room temperature.

Gluten-Free Wild Rice Salad is nutritious, colorful, and delicious.

Wild Rice Salad is nutritious, colorful, and delicious.

Benefits of Whole Grains
Why should we bother with whole grains? People who regularly eat whole grains have a lower risk of obesity, lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. In addition, whole grains are on Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet and a higher intake of whole grains is associated with lower belly fat. That’s reason enough for me!! The USDA and the Whole Grains Council recommend 3 to 5 servings of whole grains per day. One-half cup of cooked whole grains equals one serving.

Is Wild Rice a Whole Grain?
Technically, wild rice is a grass. But we talk about it in the same category as grains and it is “whole” since nothing has been removed during processing. Of course, it is gluten-free and has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. Experts suggest we should use the term “intact” rather than whole.

But Whole Grains Take Too Long to Cook!
I hear this frequently when I’m teaching cooking classes; people shy away from cooking whole grains because they take so long. That’s because whole grains contains all the parts (bran, germ, and endosperm) and that makes them tougher for water to penetrate and soften them so it takes longer for a whole grain to cook.

Tips for Cooking Whole Grains
[1] Rice cookers cook whole grains without the need for tending or stirring, freeing you up to do other things while they cook. The timer lets you know when the grains are done.

[2] Slow cookers are perfect for long-cooking grains such as wild rice or sorghum. They cook slowly overnight or while you are at work, ready to eat when you walk in the kitchen at the end of the day.

[3] Cooked whole grains can be frozen in individual portions and reheated as needed, allowing you to have several meals from just one cooking session.

[4] Salads such as this Wild Rice Salad can be made ahead: cook the wild rice the day before (I like to use a slow cooker) and refrigerate. You can also chop the other ingredients ahead of time and refrigerate them, then assemble the next day when you’re ready.

Wild Rice Salad
Reprinted with permission from 125 Gluten-Free Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Fenster (Avery/Penguin Group, 2011)
Wild rice isn’t really rice at all, but the seed of a grass. Hearty and chewy, its nutty flavor and dark color complement the green snow peas, dried apricots, and citrusy flavors. This showy dish is perfect as a buffet dish, warm or cold.

3 cups gluten-free, low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup wild rice, rinsed 3 times and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup fresh snow peas
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

[1] In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Add the wild rice and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until done, about 45 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid, then transfer the wild rice to a serving bowl.

[2] While the wild rice cooks, bring a small pan of boiling water to a boil. Add the snow peas and cook 1 minute, then drain and immerse in cold water to stop cooking. Add them to the serving bowl, along with the green onions, apricots, walnuts, and parsley

[3] In small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vinegar, orange zest, garlic, remaining salt, and pepper until well blended. Whisk in the oil until slightly thickened. Drizzle it over the salad and toss to coat well. Serve at room temperature, garnished with parsley. Or, chill it for 4 hours, let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes, and then serve. Serves 4.

Calories: 300 ; 18g protein; 6g fat, 8g fiber; 47g carbohydrates; 664mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol

NOTE: Salads like this beg for tinkering: replace the snow peas with cooked edamame or thinly sliced fresh fennel. Instead of wild rice, try black rice or black or red quinoa. Instead of dried apricots, use raisins or dried cranberries. The possibilities are endless, so get in the kitchen and experiment.

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