Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Must Have: Bob's Red Mill Products & A Quinoa Salad Recipe

A few weeks ago I had the AWESOME opportunity to visit the Bob's Red Mill World Headquarters to take a tour of the mill and then do some SERIOUS shopping at the Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store--and believe me when I say, it was like being in a whole grain heaven!

Bob's Red Mill is located in Milwaukie (Portland), Oregon and it just happens to be only 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from where I live.  The first stop was at the Bob's Red Mill World Headquarters where they offer a FREE tour of the manufacturing facility at 10:00 am; Monday through Friday.   The tour lasts about an hour, although ours went a bit longer, since many people that were on the tour asked some really good questions and shared their experiences using Bob's Red Mill products.  I wish I would have thought to bring a camera, but I'll at least explain a little about what we learned from the tour.

Our tour guide told us about the history of how Bob's Red Mill started and explained about the millstones that are used to grind the wheat into flour.  They use these HUGE quartz millstones to grind the wheat, just like they did even as far back as the early Roman days. 

One of my favorite tidbits of information shared, was while we were looking through the window into one of the rooms with the millstone machinery.  The guide explained how the wheat would pour through a shaker at the top and then it would pass into a tray where it would slow the amount of grain moving down into the center of the millstone to be ground.  This part of the process is fairly noisy and the millers compared this "chatter" sound to that of a damsel; a young girl that would chatter on and on noisily.  No matter where the miller would be in the mill, if the grain ran out, it would become quiet and immediately the miller would run to fill the hopper again, because the "damsel was in distress"--meaning if it ran empty, then the millstones would grind against the other and dull the millstone.  Thus, the original meaning of the term "damsel in distress."

One of the most impressive parts of seeing the manufacturing facility was how CLEAN it was.  They are constantly sweeping up flour particles off the flour and you could see how well they took care of the machinery during every step of the process.  Just seeing this first hand, made me want to continue buying Bob's Red Mill products and knowing that everything produced was done in such a well maintained environment.  We even met Bob, who stopped by during the tour and he seemed like a genuinely nice man.

But the very best information we heard, was learning more about how Bob gave the company to his employees on February 15th, 2010, the day of his 81st birthday.  I just love the philosophy of this company and how they are staying true to how it started and keeping it away from the big corporate companies that usually take over and change the quality of how things are done.  Read more about this wonderful gift on the press release from Bob's Red Mill. 

[photo credit from Bob's Red Mill]

After a really interesting and informative tour, we drove to the Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and had lunch in the restaurant. They serve breakfast all day, but we decided to have a sandwich from their lunch menu, which was very tasty. 

And then the shopping began.  Here are a couple of pictures that give you an idea of all the many wonderful grain, flour, wheat and oat products they carried and what we purchased and took home. 

[pictured above: steel cut oats, quinoa, bulgur, buckwheat groats, buttermilk powder, short grain brown rice, wild rice, whole grain oat groats, flaxseed, polenta, fine grind cornmeal and coarse grind cornmeal.]

The products that you see in the jars were from the bulk food section of the store, because the bulk section was less expensive then buying everything in the pre-packaged bags--but as you can see, we bought some of those as well.

[pictured above: white pastry flour, coconut flour, corn flour, baking soda, baking powder, poppy seeds. shredded coconut and flaked coconut. *not pictured; 25 lb. bag of thick rolled oats.]

Although all of this post is most definitely a Monday Must Have (all of Bob's Red Mill products are fantastic), I do want to highlight one grain in particular today; QUINOA.

"Quinoa [pronounced KEEN-wah] is a nutty and delicious grain that can be used in everything from salad to soups and stews--is packed with lysine, one of the essential amino acids not found in wheat.  It also has many B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, and enough calcium in a serving to equal a quart of milk.  This little gem of a grain is arguably the most nutritious of all, with as much as 22 percent protein, making it a spectacular addition to any diet.  Quinoa also supplies a complete protein--it includes all nine essential amino acids".  ~ Bob's Red Mill Baking Book, pg. 28

[a closer look at quinoa]

I love quinoa and one of the reasons I think Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Organic Quinoa is so great is that they have already "rinsed the quinoa thoroughly and air dried it to remove the naturally occurring bitter saponins, so it can be used without rinsing" (Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Grain Quinoa package).  This step saves so much time in preparing quinoa to be used in salads or whatever you want to make.  So today, my Mom and I collaborated and made a Yummy Quinoa Salad, which I'm sharing with you.

Yummy Quinoa Salad
created by Jill & Luana (Jill's Mom)
1 cup quiona (before cooking)
15 oz. can of corn
15 oz. can of black beans
15 oz. can of garbanzo beans
2 small zucchinis
1 medium tomato

1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. Paul Newman's Low-fat Sesame Ginger Dressing
Zest & juice of a lime
zest of a lemon
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. dried minced onion
1 fresh sprig of lemon basil
7 drops of Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1)  Prepare quinoa according to the directions on the Bob's Red Mill package (2 cups of water to 1 cup quiona).  After the quinoa is cooked, set aside and prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2)  Drain the corn, black beans and garbanzo beans and rinse well in colander; set aside.  Cut zucchini and tomato into small 1/2-inch pieces; set aside.

3) To make the quinoa dressing, combine all ingredients and stir well; set aside.  *You may adjust any of the ingredients to taste, if needed.

4)  Fold corn, black beans, garbanzo beans, tomato and zucchini into the cooked and slightly cooled quinoa.  When thoroughly mixed, stir in half of the dressing.   Once the first half of the dressing is incorporated, stir in the remaining half gently until mixed.

5)  Refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours, then serve. 

This Yummy Quinoa Salad is perfect as a side dish to any summer menu or even a meal on it's own.  It's my new favorite summer salad!

Happy Summer Monday!


  1. Amazing to find out where cliches come from! Thanks for the info...maybe you'll get to go to Bob's red Mill again...soon!

  2. I love Bob's Red Mill products. What a great place to tour. I had no idea quinoa needed to be washed. No wonder I found it too bitter....Thanks for the recipe.

  3. I love quinoa - I could eat it every day! I love that you and your mother came up with the recipe together.


  4. Sounds like a great company all the way around! Love the big red barn!

    Your salad looks tasty and healthy!

    Great post, Jill!

  5. Bob's is just down the street from my house. They other day Bob was out in front of the store and he gave my son a wooden nickel to buy a cookie. How fun that you were able to take a tour! Your quinoa salad looks terrific!