Quinoa – the revenge of the saponins

My plant-based diet experiments have led me to try a number of different grains, including the wonder-seed quinoa. Last night I made myself a HUGE bowl of quinoa with vegetables and spices, and made a bit of a pig of myself.

Unfortunately it all came out again in the early hours of the morning. My body definitely wasn’t having any of it, and I was wracked with stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting until every little bit was gone. As I fell into a troubled sleep at about 4.0 am, I could almost hear my body saying ‘..and don’t do that AGAIN!’

A quick session with Google this morning showed that this isn’t an unknown problem with quinoa. Apparently the seeds are naturally coated with bitter ‘saponins’ that have to be washed off. Very THOROUGHLY washed off, too; putting the seeds in a sieve and vaguely waving them about under some running water definitely wasn’t thorough enough. I even read that they should be soaked for 7 hours in acidified water.

So, I’m never eating it again. It might be worth a try if I ever find myself wandering around the Andes in a state of extreme malnourishment, but apart from that I’m sticking to rice and pearl barley.

Blessed are the cheesemakers

I’ve opted for not consuming dairy products. They contain IGF (Insulin-like Growth Factor) to encourage rapid cell growth. Rapid cell growth is exactly what’s needed for the sustenance of new-born mammals, but isn’t needed by cancer ridden old codgers like myself. The scans show that I can rapidly grow inappropriate cells without any help.
I’ve mulled it over, read a variety of sources, cogitated and meditated on the issue, and it makes sense. Much as I love cheese, it’s had to go.
I’ve really missed it, but at last I’ve found something that ticks all the boxes and hits the right notes on my palette. Fermented nut cheese. The simple nut cheeses I made initially were very pleasant, but didn’t quite quench the cheese craving. This really hits the spot and is well worth the fiddle.
First you have to sprout some wheat, then add water to it and ferment it for a couple of days to make a liquid called ‘rejuvelac’. This is then added to the ground nuts of your choice and fermented in a warm place for a couple more days. I like my cheese quite salty, but I knead the salt in when I shape the cheese after fermentation, as I believe it would impede the fermenting process. The full recipe is here on the amazing Rawmazing site.
This week I’ve made two different cheeses (while I had some rejuvelac on the go). One is almond cheese with a clove of garlic, then wrapped in wild garlic leaves. The other is cashew cheese with a coating of dried apple and beetroot.

Image

The leaf wrapped one is my version of Cornish ‘Yarg’. As ‘Yarg’ is actually the maker’s name, Gray, spelled backwards, I suppose I should call mine ‘Seriuqs’, but it doesn’t really trip off the tongue. I’m very pleased with the taste of it. It packs a real garlic punch, but the almonds give it a slightly crumbly, clean tang.

The cashews in the beetroot-coated cheese give a creamier texture. The apple and beetroot flavours are difficult to identify, but give it a dramatic appearance.

I’m going to try a cheese made with Macadamia nuts next. That should be ultra creamy, but I’m tending to feel the almonds give the nicest result so far.

I made the biscuits as well – dehydrating a ground mix of almonds, linseed etc. So the whole plateful is really just nuts in different guises!

I’m really impressed with how cheesy these fermented cheeses are. Hubby loathes cheese and allied lactose flavours with a vengeance, and he hates my cheese, too. A very good sign that I’m achieving true cheesiness!

My only worry is that the ‘rejuvelac’ contains the IGF that I’m mustn’t have. What if I’ve carefully recreated a vegan form of the very substance I’m trying to avoid? These are questions I’m constantly bumping into these days as I get further and further into ‘alternative’ cancer treatments. I’ve just started analysing my diet with ‘My Fitness Pal’, and my Calcium and Iron intake is running at about 20-30% of what it should be. Even on the day I had half a pound of liver my iron intake was only 77%. This raises the question of where the hell do I get those minerals from if I don’t drink milk/eat cheese/stuff myself full of red meat? In fact, looking at ‘Healthalicious’, a handy tool for analysing nutrition, how does anybody get the right amount, whatever diet they follow?

It’s one of life’s mysteries. If you have any ideas, let me know.