Deciding to be FINE with how I look
40% off photography! Plus a bakery update/RANT. (More of a rant.)

Alert! Quinoa PSA! (Also: photography questions.)

I've recently started making a very easy and delicious (to Phillip and me) dinner. I basically stirfry a bunch of veggies and tofu (or maybe 1 kind of veggie and LOTS of tofu, because it's me we're talking about), dump it in a pot of just-made quinoa, and mix it all up with oyster sauce. I am embarrassed to tell you this is dinner, even though we both like it, because, I don't know. It doesn't sound good? But it is? ANYWAY. 

So I bought the Costco bag of white quinoa which lasted almost forever. We ran out and Costco trips are kind of a pain in my butt so when we happened to be in Trader Joe's the other day, I picked up a bag of their Organic Red Quinoa. New! Different! 

And two nights ago I made our standard Quinoa Stirfry. I remember saying to Phillip, "Mmm! I might like this red quinoa better! It's... chewier? Heartier? Tastes a little stronger?" 


Yesterday Phillip was away most of the day on a West Coast business trip (his first at the new job! Was home before I went to bed! Lovely!) and I had half the leftover quinoa for lunch. As I ate it I was thinking, "MAN this is YUMMY. I could eat VATS of this stuff!" But I didn't, because next up was a vat of yogurt and granola for dessert, my new favorite thing, which I would eat all day if I could because SUGAR!

That's what I had for lunch. And almost directly following lunch, like, as soon as I put down my empty bowl of yogurt, my stomach started to hurt. 

And hurt and hurt and hurt and YOWCH and now be happy that I'm going to spare you my afternoon of intestinal troubles. 

I didn't feel like eating dinner, but I had to eat dinner because taking my pills on an empty stomach is horrible, and I'm staring at the fridge thinking: no, no, no, no. I wanted a bowl of cereal, but I thought the milk was a bad idea. I wanted more yogurt, but that was probably what made me sick in the first place. I spied the other half of the quinoa and thought, "That's HEALTHY." So I ate that. 

And my stomach started hurting AGAIN.

When Jack came to inform me of his bad dream at 2am, my stomach still hurt. After I got him back to bed I grabbed my phone and googled, even though I KNOW I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THAT. (Thankfully "quinoa indigestion" does not equal Cancer. FYI.)

BUT! I found this blog post and three-years-long comment thread about how quinoa suddenly made someone sick. Even people who'd been eating quinoa for years. Turns out you are supposed to rinse quinoa not because it's DIRTY but because the outer layer is POISONOUS! I feel like this could have been helpful information! For me! To know! I never rinsed my quinoa because... how? But remember how I said it seemed chewier? And the taste was different? Maybe more bitter? I probably 1) did not cook it long enough and 2) THE BITTER IS THE POISON!!!

My symptoms were INCREDIBLY mild compared to the people in this comment thread. (The woman at the campsite! Omg!) But the common theme seemed to be: I had no problem with quinoa for years! Until this one day! And now I can never eat it again! There was even someone who wrote and said that they'd eaten the Coscto quinoa with no problem and then one day the wife bought Organic Red Quinoa from Trader Joe's and that's when the misery began. 

Which is really sad to me, because I love quinoa. For a Not Healthy eater I sure do love my Whole Grains and Seeds And Weird Items Found In The Bulk Foods Aisle. 

AAAANYWAY. FYI. I will try eating quinoa again - not the red kind, though - and I will rinse it thoroughly (people say they just soak it, even overnight) (though how does this get rid of the POISON???) and I will cook it again and try a spoonful and see what happens. You bet I will update the internet on the status of my digestive tract.

All right, now that I have warned you about Evil Quinoa, I have a couple questions for any photographers out there. What Katie and I need on our baking website are PICTURES. However! All the pictures we've ever taken of Katie's cakes are crappy snapshots. Possibly this is because all we know how to take are crappy snapshots! I TRIED to take better pictures of yesterday's delivery, but no, they still look like crappy snapshots. 

I would be HAPPY to hire a photographer to snap our wares. Soon I'd like to make a whole bunch of things just for picture-taking purposes. But! I don't want to hire a photographer every single time we make something. That seems... inefficient. And annoying for, let's face it, the friend with a DSLR who I would sucker into being our food photographer. 

Phillip wants to buy a fancy camera (we left ours in Cabo - oops! I never wrote about Cabo!), but a fancy camera does not a talented photographer make. Do you talented types have any tips for me? Lighting? Backgrounds? Angles? I'll be honest and say photography is not one of the things I am eager to learn about and/or interested in doing better. (Sorry.) But I DO want to take a decent picture of a cake. I'll have to do that Saturday, in fact. IDEAS? HELP? A free computer program that makes it pretty? 




I have always rinsed quinoa, not because I knew it was poisonous but because the how-tos online told me to. I'm glad you are feeling better! Also, I might try this stir fry of yours...

Meghan Wood

Wow. This explains a lot of mystery ailments that I blamed unfairly on the sauce. Thank you!


I thought this was going to turn into an awful story of Phillip having intestinal distress while traveling. Glad to be wrong.


My husband takes a picture of our baby everyday, and he always does some processing in Photoshop to make them look better (but that isn't free). Have you tried Picasa? I have downloaded it (free!) and used it a little, but I don't know if it would meet your needs. You could give it a try!

How do people rinse quinoa? Use a sieve? Does it not go through the sieve holes? (Quinoa is so small!) I bought it once, but didn't try it before it expired. Oops.


I feel like the package has he responsibility to inform you of the need for rinsing. Does it?


I am very far from being a "photographer" but one thing I picked up - natural light is always better than flash. So if you can put the food near a window... well, that might help a bit. Also, I found this website that helps make my pictures look better: ... I own a SLR *and* fancy pants software, but I'm not good at it and picmonkey is easy and fast. :-)


Matt has an artist eye and insisted on a DSLR. I take most of our family photos just using the automatic setting on the camera and they turn out well. Main thing is to get down to eye level with your subject when shooting and have plenty of good lighting - never use the flash!

Matt just shouted from the next room that a basic new point and shoot camera on the macro setting should work well for food photos and that would only cost $200-$300.

I mainly use Microsoft Picture Manager when editing photos. Under the Brightness/Contrast edit option, I almost always adjust the mid-tones to sharpen the photo.


I think you would just need a light box? Something like this?


I eat quinoa all the time and just recently found out you're supposed to rinse it first! Apparently the bitter part is saponin (as in soap) and so when you rinse it, when it's not milky or foamy anymore, you're good to go. I read that in South America they use this rinse water as detergent for washing clothes. (!) I cook it in the rice maker so I just rinse by swirling it around in the container, getting as much water as I can out, and then adding the water to cook.

I love when a photo makes food look irresistible! Yum! For info on food styling and photography, check out the #5 in this post:


So there's TWO #5's in that post- it's the second one :)


I begrudgingly wash the quinoa because 'you're supposed to', but always wanted to know why it needed to be such a high maintenance grain. I'll try to have a better attitude about it from now on. :)

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