Challenges with Allergies
by Christine Wood
The number of Canadians with food allergies and those affected by pesticide residues and processing aids is on the rise. I’m sure we all know someone with a food allergy and have experienced what it’s like to be careful in preparing food for them or for ourselves, which isn’t always easy. Some of the most common food allergies in Canada include eggs, dairy, nuts, gluten, soy, corn, and shellfish. Symptoms can range from mild (sneezing and skin redness) to severe (including anaphylactic shock or death when not treated immediately).
Shoppers with these allergies often carry the burden of having to check every single product that comes into their homes, looking up information to get the reassurance they need regarding whether a product is safe for them or their family members. One of the trickiest things for people with allergies is dealing with companies’ ever-changing product lines because of the potential for cross-contamination. A product that was considered safe for them a few months ago may no longer be on their safe list the next time they purchase that product.
As customer service manager at NorQuin, I receive calls on a weekly basis from customers looking for that extra reassurance that our products are allergen-free. Customers often tell me about their own or their family member’s stressful allergy journey, as they navigate food labels. They discover how difficult it is to feel certain about the safety of the food they are eating, and how frustrating it can be that the safest foods for them and their family are often much more expensive than foods they used to be able to eat. I love hearing their exhales of relief when they learn about the versatility of quinoa and what quality measures we do to ensure an allergen-free product.
Our quinoa is naturally gluten-free. We test each of our seed lots after cleaning for the presence of gluten. Our seeds are processed in a BRC-certified facility that does not process any other product, so there is no risk of cross contamination of nuts, grains, shellfish, etc.
As for chemicals, we test every grower lot for pesticides after harvest, ensuring that the product is pesticide-free and that we are meeting all CFIA and EPA requirements for North America for quinoa. The only registered product in quinoa is a bee-safe insecticide. We do not use Roundup or products containing glyphosates.
In addition to being free of the most common allergens, quinoa is easy to prepare, can be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as a side, in muffins, etc. It is also a great option for meatless dishes because of its high protein content. This certainly makes for easier meal planning for vegetarians, vegans, or flexitarians in your family, the family member with nut allergies or gluten intolerance, the family member who loves eating local, etc., can all enjoy the same dish for a change. How refreshing is that!
Below is a recipe from NorQuin Comfort Food Quinoa Recipes.
No-Bake Chewy Quinoa Brownies
2 cups of quinoa, uncooked
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp chocolate chips
2 tsp honey
1 tsp sea salt
Step 1: Make sticky quinoa
To make sticky quinoa, we’re going to use the rice method (letting all of the water absorb into the product during cooking) rather than the pasta method (where we drain the excess water at the end).
Please use 3 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa. Boil 13-15 minutes. There should be no water left to drain. If there is water left, either drain it or let it cook a few more minutes.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix sticky quinoa with the remaining ingredients until blended.
Form into balls or press into a square lined pan, smoothing the top out with your hands. Chill for 1 hour and cut.
Christine Wood is the customer service manager at NorQuin and she loves helping customers with their concerns about food safety and cooking methods. She enjoys developing new recipes and contributing to NorQuin’s marketing initiatives and sales. Favourite thing about quinoa: “It’s the only thing I can serve to my gluten-free, grain-free, vegetarian friends without having to make separate dishes!” Also see the display ad on page 23 of the 27.1 May/June issue of the WHOLifE Journal.