Lent is just around the corner… Going grain-free! Oh, and Creamy Buckwheat “Risotto” Style

If you’ve been following me a while, you already know that every year, I observe Lent.

Not out of religious beliefs, though.

Not even close.

Doesn’t mean that I don’t observe it religiously, though! ;)

Seriously, I am kind of extreme when it comes to that practice. Lent, to me, is a personal challenge. And I don’t take challenges lightly.

Lent is not to be messed with. It’s serious business. And yes, people around me tease me all the time, but I don’t care.

WHY do I do it, you ask?

Well, it all started 3 years ago because of, or should I say thanks to, my son’s girlfriend of the time.

She, as a personal challenge, would not eat meat for the entire duration of Lent and I told her that I would gladly support her by not cooking meat whenever she would have dinner at our place.

Then, we kept talking about it; one thing led to another, and I ended up agreeing to take the challenge, too!

We decided that we would all be in this together, the whole family. No meat, no sweets, no junk for 46 days.

At the time, I was VERY MUCH into meat. I was a hardcore humanus carnivorous. If there was one thing you couldn’t take away from me, it was my meat. A meal just wasn’t a meal if meat wasn’t the center of attention.

Needless to say I was EXTREMELY nervous at first and thought I was never going to make it. But, much to my surprise, the days just flew by and Lent was over before I knew it. When Easter finally came, I was in no hurry to start eating meat again. Sweets, on the other hand… well, that’s another story!

Little did I know that accepting this challenge would be the beginning of a deep life transformation for me. This is where my journey to a new, healthier me, truly began.

So from then on, I decided that I would repeat the challenge every year, and maybe even add to it.

So this year, I’ve decided to take a challenge that makes me just as nervous as the first one, if not more.

I’ve decided to give up on my precious grains for 46 days.

You know me and grains, right?

No grains means no pasta, no rice, no bread, but mostly NO BAKING!!! No cookies, muffins or cakes!

Oh no, this can’t be… I’ll have to find ways around this. I’ll have to create grain-free baked goods.

And you know I will succeed. ;)

Bottom line is I’m really scared, but I really want to see how my body will react to being grain free for that long. I also want to see whether I will feel the need to reinstate them as soon as Lent is over, or if I will be able to pretty much live without them, as was the case with meat.

Of course, I’ll fill you in on my intentions as we get closer to the date, and of course, I will share my thoughts throughout the entire duration of this challenge.

But bottom line is, as of next Wednesday, for me there will be no grains, no meat, no alcohol, no junk food or refined sugar for 46 days. I’m still debating whether I should make that no “added” sugar of any kind, but that might be a tad extreme.

In the meantime, let’s have a grain orgy, shall we? You better believe that I’m having grain galore EVERY single day until Lent begins!

Mind you, this next dish could very easily be made “grain-free” and it would be just as good.

This is basically a “risotto”, made with buckwheat, amaranth and teff.

It’s smooth, creamy, yet a tad crunchy and extremely yummy. 

But I talked so much already, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to cut my description a little short…

Guess you’re gonna have to take my word for it.

Trust me, it’s insanely g.o.o.d!

CREAMY BUCKWHEAT “RISOTTO” STYLE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large cooked chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • ¼ cup amaranth
  • ¼ cup teff
  • 2 cups good chicken stock (I use home made)
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ broccoli, cut into tiny florets
  • 30g fresh parmesan cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock and water to a boil then lower heat just to keep warm.
  2. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil in a large pan or coat with cooking spray. Heat over medium high heat and add pieces of chicken, salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken starts to color, about 3-4 minutes, then flip the pieces around and cook to color again, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the buckwheat groats, amaranth and teff and stir to coat. Continue cooking to develop fragrance for about 2 minutes,  stirring frequently.
  4. Lower the heat and add about a cup of chicken broth. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until almost all the liquid is absorbed. For the next 45 minutes or so, you will have to repeat this process many times, adding about a half a cup of liquid at a time.
  5. After each addition of liquid, simmer / stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed then add more liquid, until grains reach the desired level of doneness.
  6. When your “risotto” is where you want it, add your broccoli florets and another ¼ cup of liquid. Stir, cover and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the parmesan cheese and stir until melted and transfer to serving plate. Garnish with more freshly grated parmesan and fresh parsley. (I actually added a little bit of unsweetened soy milk to mine after I was done taking the pictures and it was awesome!)

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Comments

  1. says

    I laughed when I saw this–just because I’ve been eating Barley risotto all week. We do think alike! Yours looks delicious. Mine had a variety of mushrooms, lots of spinach, vege broth and of course parmesan.

    It’s interesting that your healthy food transformation began with a non-religious lent challenge! You’ve got some willpower! Cam once became a vegetarian for a year on a dare–I think you’d get along, haha. I’m really interested to see how your 46 days go–I know I couldn’t skip the baking and sweets. Just make sure you get enough energy going grain-free, especially if you’re keeping up your workouts :)

    • says

      Oh, barley risotto is soooooo good! Darn I like my grains! This will be a tough one. Well, at least, I’ll still have buckwheat! Have you ever tried buckwheat risotto? I was extremely impressed. It’s got so much flavor, unreal. And the texture is simply amazing! It consoles me to think that I’ll still be able to enjoy this dish, minus the teff.

      Trust me, I won’t be skipping the baking. I just couldn’t. I’ll just have to get [even more] creative! There are quite a few different kinds of non grain flours out there. I’ll have to test them and see how things go. I’m expecting a few fails, but hopefully, a few great successes also!

      And of course, I’ll keep working out! That is one of the most important aspects of being healthy! Can’t stop that… I’ll make sure to get plenty of energy in me, don’t worry! There’s way too many good things to eat out there, finding something to energize me won’t be a problem! ;)

  2. says

    Congats on your healthier self! It sounds as if you are going to follow the Slow-Carb diet, described in the awesome book The 4-hour Budy. I am on it myself and it’s going great – no grains, no white carbs, no diary and no meat (only because I am vegetarian). About the grain-free baking I’d recommend chickpea flour ;) Good luck and def. check out that book!

  3. says

    Good luck. I tried a grain-free diet a while ago and now have a very grain-reduced diet. It works very well for me. Leaving out grains makes me feel the leanest, least bloated, least tired and most energized I have ever been. I found out, that going gluten-free alone wasn’t enough” because a bowl of rice would leave me as sluggish, tired and lazy.
    However, going meat-free at the same time does sound like a challenge as I used meat (mainly chicken) or eggs to fill in for the grains. In the end of the day, I had to eat something that fills me up. I am curious to know how it will impact on your well-being.

    • says

      Thanks for your good luck wishes, Anja! Your comment really encourages me! I thought of going gluten free too, but then I figured I would remove all grain and perhaps reinstate the gluten free ones after Lent is over and monitor body reactions. I’ve been wanting to reduce my grain consumption for quite a while now, and I think this is one good way to do it. As for going meat-free, I already don’t eat much of it, so to me, that part isn’t much of a challenge. Mind you, I still include eggs, fish and seafood to my diet, so I’ll probably end up eating a little bit more of that, as is usually the case. I still need my protein, you know! ;)

  4. says

    That is awesome! Definitely a cool idea to keep improving and trying new things for “Lent”. I’m excited to see what you come up with :) I know I feel better when I eat less grains, but I don’t think I could or would want to eliminate them completely. Your risotto looks delicious – love the broccoli in there :D

    • says

      Thanks Heidi! To be honest, I don’t know if I could either. All I know is I will! It’s going to be tough though. I’ve been eating so much grains these past few days, it’s not even funny. Almost as if I was never going to have another grain in my life ;) I really can’t wait to see how my body will react. That’s my main motivation for going through with this. That and the fact that it will force me to think outside the box even more. :)

  5. says

    No way! Just yesterday I was talking about going grain free for a week or two to see what would happen. It’s going to be super difficult because of my pickiness, my dislike of vegetables, and my cravings for pasta, bread and baked goods. Why can’t I have cravings for vegetables! Or meat.

    I don’t actually think it’ll be possible. Maybe I’ll just reduce my grains for a few weeks, see if I feel differently (I’m constantly exhausted and have tons of not very serious health issues), and if I do, I’ll continue. I can’t get rid of them though. I think maybe the best time to do this experiment would be when yours is finished and I can benefit from your grain free baked goods recipes. :D

    All I know is that I can eat avocado pudding / filling and that chocolate peanut butter “fudge” recipe I made and that makes me feel better. No added sugar would mean that you can’t have those things. So I vote for having added sugar! You will just perish with no grains and no honey.

    I can’t wait to see your non vegetable grain free posts. If you could combine vegetables into a dessert that doesn’t taste nasty would be nice too. :)

    Good luck!

    • says

      It’s pretty simple, Erin. Carbs make you crave carbs. The more carbs you eat, the more carbs you crave. I’ll try and find you some information on that, if you want. That’s part of the reason why I want to go grain free for a while. I know I too have a major problem with carbs. I’ve already eliminated pretty much all simple carbs from my diet (except that which comes from fruits) but still, I find I crave them WAY too much, and I’m also pretty certain that they are keeping me from dropping those darn last 10 pounds!

      Of course, carbs aren’t only in grains, but hey, I want to see what grains do… then I’ll deal with the “other” carbs. ;)

      I’m totally with you on the no added sugar thing. This would restrict my cooking and creativity quite a lot. Even salads call for honey sometimes, you know! That would be a toughie!

      So now I have to create a dessert that is loaded with spinach AND tofu but that is actually so good, you can’t tell either of these ingredients is in it? Oh my… :D

      I’ll have to think of ways to get veggies into you, my dear friend! That is a must! Veggies are vital! Let me get these brains in gear. I shall think of something!

      • says

        But it seems like some people crave vegetables. I want to be one of those people! I’ve been reading Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It and The Primal Blueprint so I get that carbs are basically evil but life without lots of carbs (and therefore grains) would be so sad. For example, I’m eating breakfast right now and what am I eating? Raw broccoli and carrots (because that’s the only way I’ll eat them) and grapes and my reward for this nonsense is a nut and dried fruit truffle. I wish I liked eggs! That would make breakfast easier. But what I really want is pancakes and maple syrup. Oh and I read last night that peanuts count as grains. Screw that. I’m going to eat peanuts because they’re the only nuts that I actually like plain and without lots of added flavors (that I add to nut butter).

        Yesterday I attempted spinach again with lemon juice and garlic. Yucky. You have a big task ahead of you! Oh and I’ve had tofu in the fridge for weeks and haven’t done anything with it. I was going to make chocolate mousse out if it, but then it’s just full of chocolate and that’s not so healthy.

      • says

        Where did you read that peanuts count as grain? And to what account? As far as carbs are concerned? I’d be really curious to read that article. Peanuts are actually a legume… I really can’t see how they would be even remotely close to a grain. Now please, don’t tell me I also have to refrain from eating peanuts for 46 days! ;) I’ll just die! Mind you, contrary to you, peanuts would be the easiest nuts to give up for me. Almonds would be the toughest.

        Maybe you have to start making pancakes with coconut or quinoa flour and egg whites. Throw in a grated carrot, a handful of raisins, top that with “cottage cheese custard” and you’ve got yourself a great “carrot [pan]cake” for breakfast.

        Hmmm… now that sounds yummy. Sounds like this will be next week-end’s breakfast creation! ;)

      • says

        Ugh, sometimes I just hate myself. Ignore the peanut thing. I’m getting things confused. It’s not allowed on the paleo diet, not a grain free diet. I actually saw a dessert post of yours today with spinach that looks promising. I’ll head on over there now. :)

  6. Élise says

    WOW Chapeau to you Sonia for undertaking that challenge!
    I couldn’t go a week without at least a pasta meal or some yummy basmati rice, so 46 days without grains would be deadly to my mental wellbeing lol.
    However, I will gladly sit on the sidewalk and cheer you on! I’m a new follower of your blog, but I’m already very confident in your willpower!
    An unrelated question: where do you buy your coconut flour? I would love to experiment with that flour!

    • says

      Thanks Élise, you are so kind! So nice of you to cheer me on! I think I will need all the support I can get. This will be a toughy. But the thought of pushing my limits once more and coming up with all kinds of grain free recipes excites me to no end, so that’ll help a lot! I think what I will miss the most though is cereal and baked goods. This week-end, all things grain come out of the cupboards. I’ll take pictures. I can’t wait to see how much there actually is!

      As for my coconut flour, I buy it at Marchés TAU. One thing about them is they often don’t even know what products they carry… So if you ask and they tell you they don’t have it, look for the Bob’s Red Mill stand or section. They should have it in there!

      If you do experiment with it, let me know what you think. That flour would be one of my favorite food discoveries of all times! Love to hear what others think of it, too! :) Hope you like it!

      • Élise says

        Thanks Sonia for the info! I’ll definitely go to marchés TAU this week-end and try something with that flour. I love all things coconut so I will let you know if I create anything worthy. I’ve made some really yummy (but not completely healthy lol) cakes with almond meal and hazelnut meal, and I’m thinking I might try some meringue or dacquoise with coconut flour.. will see how that works out.

        I’ve been trying some of your recipes and I’m totally in awe of your creativity! I’m really trying to say adieu to junk food and unhealthy choices and your blog keeps me motivated towards that goal!

      • says

        The first thing I ever made with coconut flour was this pancake recipe. I fell in love immediately. You might want to give them a try! Hopefully, you too will be completely addicted to coconut flour after that.

        And I’m glad I can inspire you to stear clear of junk food. I’m telling you, I think a lot of healthy dishes can taste a lot better than most of the junk food that’s out there. I know I’m a definite convert. :)

  7. says

    I know you will be fabulous and share with us tons of delicious grain-free goodies :) In the meantime, you’ve got three grains here that I’ve never used – I’m intrigued!

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