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Quinoa "Grits" for Olddog

Quinoa, Not Just For Dinner

Check out backpacking blogs or forums and the breakfast foods often mentioned are instant oatmeal, bagels with peanut butter, and instant grits. 

The Holy trifecta of trail food breakfasts. All easy and ready in minutes. Unfortunately, a dilemma exists for backpackers who follow special diets; whether they eat "clean", gluten-free, or paleo.  Instant oatmeal and grits are no-no's because they are grains, and nothing "instant" is good because of the processing, which usually removes vital fiber. White bread is just plain gross. Just sayin'.
Just say "NO" to white bread!

Why Grits for Olddog?

One of the members of Hammock Forums, Olddog, really likes his grits.  I did a simple search of the forums for "olddog" and "grits" and came up with 40 hits!  Since going paleo, he has been searching for a cleaner version of grits.  And since I can tuck into a big bowl of low country Shrimp and Grits with abandon, I thought it was time for a grit makeover.  Plus, I know something about grits.  I graduated high school and college in Tennessee.  BTW, my alma mater is Memphis State University, NOT University of Memphis ... :-)  

Search online for how to make quinoa grits, and the recipe invariably goes like this..
  1. "Cook the Quinoa"
  2. "Put it in a bowl" 
  3. "Top it with stuff"
  4. "Voila"
I want to scream "These are not grits, people! This is plain quinoa with stuff on it! Grits are supposed to be tiny, and soft, and a complement to the other ingredients!"  

So anywhoo, here is my solution. No, it's not exactly like grits, but it's a pretty darn good alternative, if I do say so myself, and these quinoa grits will last just about forever in the pantry for future use...

Step One:  Cook and Dry The Quinoa

The process is super easy.  The cooking, dehydration, and final step take about 30 minutes of hands-on time, but you can be doing other things in the kitchen while the quinoa is cooking. The first step to making the grits is to cook and dry your quinoa, which you can read about in my DIY Trail Food Series, or watch my Youtube video: 

Step Two:  Grind the Dried Quinoa

The second step to making your grits is to grind them. I experimented with grinding the quinoa during different points of the process; after cooking and before dehydration, when partly dry, and when the quinoa was completely dry.  The best results seemed to come from the fully dehydrated quinoa. The only problem is the stuff is so hard that you have to grind in a coffee grinder in small batches. 

dry the dried quinoa in small amounts in the coffee grinder
Grind in Small Amounts in Coffee Grinder

The Quinoa Should be Ground Slightly, Not Powdered
The Quinoa Should be Ground Slightly, Not Powdered

Left to Right:  comparing Dried Quinoa, Ground Quinoa, Corn Grits
Left to Right:  Dried Quinoa, Ground Quinoa, Corn Grits

That's it!  You can use the ground quinoa as a yummy corn grits substitute.  Top with your favorite additions. Grits can be enjoyed sweet or savory.  Savory accompaniments can be cheese (freeze dried or packets of grated parmesan), bacon, salsa, garlic powder, and french-fried onions.  My favorite sweet condiments are maple sugar, cinnamon, and dried berries.

Food for The Soul

The '92 iconic movie "My Cousin Vinny"  has so many hysterical scenes that it's hard to love just one. But in a very memorable moment, Mr. Tipton says, "No self-respectin' Southerner uses instant grits. I take pride in my grits."  

Sorry Mr. Tipton, but I truly doubt any self-respecting Southerner would cook regular grits on the trail.  At least not on an extended backpacking trip.  And my adaptation of grits may make Mrs. Riley get thicker glasses :-)

Nutritional Comparison

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  1. But how mch water to rehydrate?

    Go tigers!

    1. Hi Jason, I add enough water to barely cover the ingredients in the bag. These will need to sit a while in a cozy or pot to soften up. Liked the Tiger comment :-)