Gluten-Free Tabbouleh

quinoa

It doesn’t matter if I’m with you in the kitchen making quinoa or talking to you through the lens of a computer screen, telling you I’m having a hard time making friends is one of the fastest ways I know to bring back all the emotions of second grade P.E. class. It’s humiliating—kind of like announcing you’re the kid no one wants to sit next to on the bus or that the guy who’s taking you to dinner is only doing it because his mom knows your mom. Over and over again the last few days, when this topic has come up in conversation with acquaintances and friends, I’ve been shocked at how humbled I’ve been to simply state the truth, how much I’ve wanted to color it with less emotion and try to hide the fact that I crave deep relationships. I feel so embarrassed to say it, like I’m asking you to pity me and tell me I’m wonderful and invite me to your dinner party, but I force myself to do it anyway because it’s true and I want to say what’s true, and also, I want to fight the urge to only tell you what I think you’ll think sounds good. I’m too good at that already.

soaking quinoa

Sometimes when Tim and I are cooking together, I’ll ask him how he wants the vegetables chopped, and he’ll say fine and minced, and he’ll ask me how I want the table set, and I’ll think, I wonder what he would want me to say? before I answer him. I don’t always do this, mostly because he’s helped me see how unhelpful it can be, but sometimes I still do because it’s a deep habit, one so ingrained in me that I fall back on it without meaning to.

I grew up what some people might call a people pleaser. I studied what the crowd around me liked and wanted, and I worked very hard to make myself fit their desires. I didn’t get in trouble, I said kind things, I learned to ask you more about your life than I’d say about mine—constantly working to gain your approval, whomever you were, so that you would like me, so that you would say something that would make me feel OK inside.

chopping herbs

In many different types of society, people pleasers hide really well. They’re not the ones parents worry about or the ones dealing with failure—they’re usually, on the outside at least, fully functional, engaging, pleasant people to be around, successful in work and at home and in churches. But the thing is, trying to please everyone else is a mask. Keeping it up isn’t just impossible; it’s exhausting. And sooner or later, you start to see that it’s nuts.

tabbouleh ingredients

Early when Tim and I were dating, we talked about this and about how I’d spent a lot of my life thus far trying to be exactly what I thought people wanted me to be. I didn’t know how to say no without guilt or how to willingly disappoint someone without anxiety, and so I started to ask myself why. Maybe it was because I was afraid of loneliness? Maybe because I liked the illusion of control? But mostly, I think it was this: maybe I was trying to fill my soul with their acceptance.

quinoa with add-ins

I recently finished the book “Grace for the Good Girl,” written by Emily P. Freeman who blogs at Chatting at the Sky. It it, she says this:

Life behind a mask may feel right and may even be fun for a short time. After a while, though, recycled air becomes stale and the effort it takes to continue trying to be someone you aren’t becomes a burden rather than a game. Only in returning home, taking off the mask, and being you again will you find relief.

holding bowl of tabbouleh

The lie of seeking people’s approval is that it will actually satisfy me, that it will actually fill me up. And I am repeatedly, regularly capable of hiding who I really am because I think that will give me what I think I need: your acceptance—even here on this blog when I talk about recipes for cauliflower rice or grass-fed pot roast or raw brownies or sauteed Brussels sprouts. There’s something really, really appealing about feeling well-thought-of or appreciated or valued.

quinoa tabbouleh bowl

And so part of learning, slowly learning, to stop hiding yourself means learning instead to do the opposite: to speak the truth and to be embarrassed and to, when you boast, boast of your weakness (or in the One who has none). Otherwise, it’s a treadmill that never ends and worse, it’s impossible to ever lose sight of yourself enough to do what really does satisfy: to taste and to give real love.

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Night in Atlanta + Amaranth Porridge

Tim and I spent last Monday night in Atlanta—just a quick one-night getaway to the biggest city four hours from our home, made possible by a wedding gift from our friend Kim. After a rainy drive down that turned into a sunny stop at IKEA, we arrived at Stonehurst Place, our bed and breakfast for the night.

stonehurst front stonehurst front windows

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Stonehurst is a stunning estate built in 1896 and totally renovated in 2007-08. Our room, the Farnsworth, overlooked the screened-in back porch and was decorated with a Hollywood glam theme. It featured its own fireplace, a queen-sized bed with Egyptian cotton sheets, a marble bathroom and a full walk-in closet.

stonehurst room

stonehurst patio

stonehurst room water in the room

One of the last times I’d stayed in a B & B was in Maine, a place whose quaint little towns often make it hard not to stay in a B & B, and the thing I’ve always liked most about them is the extra amenities: at Stonehurst, we had access to an upstairs sitting room with a Keurig coffee/tea maker, fresh organic fruit and baked goods in the dining room, an open front porch overlooking the streets of Midtown—not to mention, breakfast the next morning was a gourmet spread of hot coffee or tea; organic yogurt with berries; and toasted sourdough topped with ricotta, kale and eggs cooked the way we like.

stonehurst sitting area stonehurst upstairs

fun decor at stonehurst

stonehurst upstairs stonehurst bookcases

stonehurst front patio

stonehurst tree

Even though we were in Atlanta for under 24 hours, we managed to fit in a lot of stops, from driving through Buckhead to shopping in the Virginia Highlands (and sipping on fresh-squeezed orange juice from artisanal chocolatier Cacao, a shop recommended by our Innkeeper, Sarah):

cacao in atlanta
fresh-squeezed OJ at cacao

to dinner at Yeah! Burger, a surprisingly impressive burger joint that may look like your standard eat-in fast-food place but inside is actually the adept maker of a spread like this: fresh-squeezed orange juice (we’re obsessed!), fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, a bunless grass-fed burger with goat cheese and sauteed onions, a breadless portabella sandwich with goat cheese and tomato jam, Brussels sprouts and salad.

yeah burger
yeah burger dinner

But it was our final destination that wowed us most: the DeKalb Farmers Market, which is like Costco meets Whole Foods meets an international grocery store, the one-stop-shop for every kind of specialized food ingredient and fresh produce you could ask for. Sucanat for $2.50 a pound. Organic cacao nibs for half the normal price. Fresh-baked spelt sourdough bread. Spelt cherry pistachio bread. Kamut hazelnut fig bread (!!).

We were overwhelmed.

dekalb farmers market
fresh unpasteurized OJ
dekalb farmers market bread
dekalb farmers market kumquats

When we finally left, bags and bags of groceries in our cart, this was just some of our loot:
loot from dekalb farmers market

And among that hoard was organic amaranth (at $2.99 a pound), the increasingly popular nutritional powerhouse related to spinach, beets, Swiss chard and quinoa.

amaranth

I’ve never cooked with amaranth before, but I’ve wanted to ever since I noticed it in the bulk bins at Whole Foods. Like quinoa and millet, amaranth is not actually a grain, but as any gluten-free cook could tell you, it’s often referred to as a grain because it can behave like one, yet with none of the gluten and way more health benefits.

soaked amaranth
scooping out amaranth cereal

Amaranth is rich in amino acid and proteins, and it has four times more calcium than wheat and twice as much magnesium and iron. Research has linked it with fighting cancer, inflammation and heart disease.

amaranth porridge #1
amaranth porridge with bananas

While the seeds can be eaten like couscous/rice or ground into flour for baking, one of their most well-known uses is as a breakfast porridge—something akin to Cream of Wheat or another hot cereal—so when we returned from our fast getaway, the following Sunday morning, we had amaranth for breakfast, in porridge form. It didn’t officially extend our vacation but, hot and creamy, sweet and comforting, it was the next best thing.

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