Carol Fenster's Gluten-Free Grain Salads for Cool, Healthy Summer Dining

Summer is the perfect time to serve grain salads says Carol Fenster, co-author of Whole Grains and the Gluten-Free Diet, because preparing them won’t heat up the kitchen, they can be served hot or cold, and they are very nutritious and extremely versatile.

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Carol Fenster's Wild Rice Salad is cool gluten-free dish for summer.

Wild Rice Salad is cool gluten-free dish for summer.

Summer’s heat makes us yearn for cool dishes, so why not try a hearty, gluten-free grain dish that satisfies, yet provides important nutrients, says Carol Fenster.

Denver, CO (PRWEB) July 02, 2012

Summer is the perfect time to serve grain salads says Carol Fenster, co-author of Whole Grains and the Gluten-Free Diet, because preparing them won’t heat up the kitchen, they can be served hot or cold, and they are very nutritious and extremely versatile.

"Summer’s heat makes us yearn for cool dishes, so why not try a hearty, gluten-free grain dish that satisfies, yet provides important nutrients," says Carol Fenster, author of 10 gluten-free cookbooks―and her tips for preparing them won’t heat up the kitchen. Any dish traditionally made with wheat berries, bulgur, or farro can also be made with gluten-free grains, says Fenster, adding that gluten-free grains (also called cereals) are the seeds of plants and include brown rice, corn, millet, oats (pure, uncontaminated), sorghum, teff, and wild rice––as well as amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa.

For summer entertaining, Fenster replaces the usual potato salad and coleslaw with grain salads made of cooked gluten-free grains. Her favorites are buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, sorghum, and wild rice because the grains are larger and their texture is chewier and more like wheat than the smaller grains of amaranth or teff. She offers these tips for preparing the grains while keeping the kitchen cool:

[1] Cook the grains in the morning or evening when the kitchen is cooler (or use a slow-cooker), then toss them with salad dressing.

[2] Chill all day or overnight to let the grains absorb the flavors from the salad dressing.

[3] Just before serving that evening or the next day, add colorful chopped vegetables or fruits, nuts, feta, or olives―and perhaps cooked shrimp or chopped cooked chicken, to make it a main dish. Arranged on a large platter, grain salads―such as Wild Rice Salad―are stunningly beautiful and enticing and can be served at room temperature, making them ideal for outdoor entertaining.

Grain salads also make it easier to meet the Whole Grain Council’s recommended quota of 3 to 5 daily servings of whole grains― defined as those that include the bran, germ, and endosperm―that contain all of the grain’s nutrients, instead of being polished away during processing. This is especially important for people on a gluten-free diet, says Fenster, because they miss out on vital nutrients when they avoid wheat grains.

Gluten is the general name for specific proteins found in the grains wheat and barley, but also in spelt, kamut, rye, farro, and triticale. About 3 million Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where gluten inhibits the absorption of nutrients in food. The only treatment is a strict lifelong, gluten-free diet. Another 18 to 21 million people have non-celiac gluten sensitivity and must also follow a gluten-free diet.

“The benefits of eating whole grains include lower risk of obesity, lower cholesterol levels, and a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and cancer so it is important that everyone eat the required servings per day, says Fenster, whose on-line cookbook at GFreeCuisine also offers grain dishes. She adds, “Many people say they would eat more whole grains to reap these benefits if they knew how to prepare them. Grain salads are an easy, tasty way to meet these daily goals and reap these benefits―especially in the summer when cool dishes are especially welcome.”