Soft Quinoa Pretzel Bites

softpretzels2These days, every minute I spend with my boys seems special.

Maybe it is part of being an older mom or maybe its just part of being a mom period, but at every age I’ve though “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

I have truly always enjoyed them, but I’m not sure there has ever been a time when that was more true than right now.

At almost 7 and almost 8, they are the perfect blend of still little enough to still think I rock and grown up enough to be more fun than work.  We laugh, have long conversations and just hang out together.  Not a day goes by that I’m not awed by Christian’s intelligent questions and Alex’s sheer competence with pretty much everything.  Really, watching them slowly turn from little boys to just boys is the most amazing thing.

You know what else is amazing?  Their enthusiasm.  For the last two years I’ve said this Christmas is the one, but this one really is.  Their enthusiasm is so infectious and it is hard not to get caught up in it!  My parents will be here Saturday which will pretty much kick off two weeks of celebrating.

In the mean time….I have a birthday to plan for!

Alex turns 8 next Tuesday.   It is hard to believe.

(Even stranger is that I though I was really old to be having a baby when I was pregnant with him and now eight years later here I am expecting another.  But that is a whole other story…)

As picky as he is, Alex is still a little foodie at heart.  He loves to watch Chopped and Iron Chef with me, and is already dreaming up recipes.  True to his foodie status, he has requested not one but two birthday desserts.

The first, a Salted Caramel Ice Cream Cone Cake from Food Network.

And the second, Red Velvet Cup Cakes with White Chocolate Filling.

This little guy doesn’t make things easy on his Mama does he?

I love that he knows what he wants and though my talents lie elsewhere in the kitchen, I’m really looking forward to the challenge of putting these together for him.  It’s the first time he’s gone through all my clipped recipes and found exactly what he wants for his birthday.  My little boy is growing up! (Sniff, sniff…)

Speaking of challenges in the kitchen, I have a confession.

I get really weird about cooking certain things.  (Remember my asparagus phobia?)  It’s really pretty embarrassing, all things considered.

I’ve had this recipe for Soft Quinoa Pretzel Bites written for over 6 months, and it has been on my to do list each week for that time.  Somehow, it never got made.

Breads I can do.  But I’ve always gotten nervous about things like pretzels and bagels.  (I’m still recovering from my failed bagel attempt in 1998.)

 

Whatever the reason, I was chicken and it was so silly!

These were easy to make and so delicious.  The boiling part is absolutely no big deal – it’s as simple as boiling pasta.

And….drum roll please….BOTH BOYS LIKED THEM! A LOT! (As in asking for them the next day.)

The ones you see here are gluten free, but I’ve included a flour substitution for those of you who aren’t. If you do make them gluten free, make sure you serve them warm. Like most gluten free goodies, these are worth the extra effort to re-heat!

Soft Quinoa Pretzel Bites

Rating: 51

Yield: 16 servings

Calories per serving: 183

Fat per serving: 5.9g

Soft Quinoa Pretzel Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar (or sugar of choice)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 cups all purpose or gluten free flour blend *see note
  • 1 1/2 cup toasted quinoa flour (see note)
  • 2 ounces coconut oil, melted
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cups baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance (or butter of choice), melted
  • Pretzel or Kosher Salt

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl combine warm water, yeast and sugar. Stir gently until combined and set aside for 5 to proof.
  2. In combine salt and flours in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until well combined. If using all purpose flour switch to the dough hook. (no need for gluten free flour) And add in yeast mixture and oil. Mix on low until combined and then increase speed to high and mix for 4 minutes. Remove from bowl and place into a well oiled bowl. Cover and place in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Bring 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil in a wide saucepan or roasting pan.
  5. Turn the dough out on an oiled work surface and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a 24 inch rope and slice each rope into 1 – inch pieces. Place a lightly damp towel over the dough to prevent drying out.
  6. Using a slotted spoon lower pretzels into boiling water and boil for 30 seconds, flipping them over a couple of times. Remove pretzels from the water and place them on prepared baking sheets. Brush each pretzel with the melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until dark golden brown. Serve warm, brushing with additional butter if desired.
  7. If using gluten free flour blend, ensure that you use one with xanthan gum. If yours does not have it, add 2 1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum to your flour mixture.

Notes

Servings 16, Calories 183, Fat 5.9g, Carbohydrates 27.5g, Protein 4.2g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 2772mg, Fiber 1.6g, Sugars 1g

Never toasted quinoa flour? It’s really simple but completely optional. I do it because I love the nutty and less earthy taste that it brings out. All you need to do is line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the flour out to about 1/4 inch deep. (I do a box at a time.) Bake on 220 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Allow to cool completely and then store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.

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  • Diana

    Do you make your own quinoa flour? How do you do it?

    • Wendy Polisi

      No, I buy it because I don't have a high speed blender and my food processor is on its last leg.  If you have something that will grind it it is easy to make.  Rinse the seeds and spread them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Toast at 220 degrees for 2 1/2 hours.  Grind and store in an air tight container in your fridge or freezer.

      Sent from my iPad

  • Wendy

    Thank you, thank you. I haven't made pretzels of any sort for years and these look yummy and relatively easy!! In fact, your quinoa inspirations have helped make my gluten-free transition relatively painless and certainly tasty. So another thank you is in order!
    And now a personal note, as an "older mom" of grown* sons, I appreciate your musings and encourage you — each year is indeed "the one!" Also, congratulations on your expected one — blessings come in all different ways, shapes and sizes, so heartfelt congratulations.

    • Wendy Polisi

      Hi Wendy,

      So glad to hear that I've helped make your transition easier. I have truly enjoyed the process of gluten free baking MUCH more than I ever thought I would.

      Thank you – and you are right! I will probably be saying next year is "the one" too. Thanks also for your congratulations – it is a girl so I'm in for a whole new experience and can't wait! :)

  • Jan

    Wendy, it’s so fun to read your blogs and try your recipes. Your comments here about the perfect age of your kids…. mine are 48 and 50 this year! And I think the ages of the boys are about perfect now… like you said, they crawl up in your lap but still can have awesome insights and creativity, talents that you already can see, etc! They get involved in sports and their guy stuff. But still like to be in the kitchen with Mom. Yes, I can relate. Our older child is a guy who just turned 50. He’s been drug free for 6 or so years now and this year he lived with us 3 months this Summer. What a joy to have him around– so likeable now, thoughtful, easy-going, patient, encouraging and helpful. He’s not defensive or negative like he used to be. He started drugs at 13. Thirty years we prayed, waited, tried to help to no avail, waited some more. It’s worth the wait!

    I started getting your recipes when I was looking for quinoa recipes to supply protein in no meat and dairy diet. Our daughter had Her-2 breast cancer Feb 2009 removed and she went through chemo-herceptin treatments and radiation. She was cancer free until 2 months ago when she found a small lump at the same place the tumor had been. MRI now shows 2 tumors. She lives in Italy so will have pre-op the 19th and have surgery scheduled sometime after that. She did a lot of research from the first and knows that diet, detox, lifestyle, exercise, supplements, etc are key factors in fighting cancer. She made a mushroom/cabbage lasagna for a dinner party at her house last night. We stay in touch with email and skype.

    I substitute quinoa for rice a lot. I add it to salads like the broccoli raisin salad– you never even know you have it in it! I love it in “rice” pudding! I have a lot of your recipes copied off in my file, too. Thanks so much for sharing!!!!

    May you have a blessed Christmas with the grandparents there to visit for a couple of weeks! What joy! Have a great time on Jesus’ birthday!

    • Wendy Polisi

      Thanks so much Jan! I agree and this time is going so fast so I'm trying to make the best of it. How exciting to have your son "back". I can't imagine the heartbreak that you must have went through for years – it must be pretty spectacular to be through that time.

      So sorry to hear about your daughter. One website you want to be sure to have her check out is Kris Carr's – http://kriscarr.com/. (She may have already stumbled upon this in her research.) She is living with cancer and has battled it successfully through diet and lifestyle. I have her book Crazy Sexy Diet (NOT a "DIET" book but a book about health) and she also has one called Crazy Sexy Cancer. I will keep her in my prayers.

      Broccoli Raisin Salad with quinoa sounds fabulous. My dad just told me that he will be bringing me 6 heads of broccoli from his garden. I can't wait – nothing like home grown veggies! Thanks for your well wishes – we are going to have a great time!

  • Teresa

    Wendy:
    Can I use regular flour in the quinoa pretzel bite recipe? I have all the other ingredients!
    TW

    • Wendy Polisi

      Yes, that should work just fine. I would reduce the water by 1/4 cup initially and add it after the dough has come together only if you need it. (Higher protein flours absorb more water.)

  • Renee

    Wow! We just tried these this afternoon. My four boys love them! They really do taste like the soft pretzels that you buy in the malls. I've been looking for a snack like this to take along on trips too. Thanks for all your wonderful recipes!!! Are all of these included in your cookbook? I hope so…

    • Wendy Polisi

      Yeah! So glad you liked them. This one actually isn't in a cookbook yet but will be re-photographed (I lost my light when I was making these because I was having fun with the boys!) and included in my Gluten Free cookbook that will be out as an ebook in the spring and print in 2014.