Tired of the same old same old? No problem! This month, I have been focusing on many of my favorite whole grains, offering tips and ideas about how you might enjoy adding them to your own menu plan. Whole grains are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plant compounds that may help benefit our heart, blood sugar levels and overall health. This week, let’s break the boredom with buckwheat!
“It’s not wheat; it’s buckwheat!” I can’t tell you how many times I have said that to nervous people who have just learned that they can’t eat wheat. In fact, not only is buckwheat not wheat, it’s not even a distant relative. It’s a seed from the rhubarb family. But, like wheat, it can be used in all kinds of recipes, and it has plenty of good taste and good benefits. In my youth, buckwheat was something that came on occasion in pancakes on a restaurant menu. Now-a-days, it is far more readily available in its many diverse forms:
- Groats – the hulled whole, raw kernels
- Kasha – toasted buckwheat groats – a popular, tasty way to eat buckwheat! (Toasting adds flavor and aroma to naturally bitter, unprocessed groats.)
- Flour – great in many favorite recipes
- Noodles – called Soba in Japan
- Breakfast cereals – hot and cold
On the health front, buckwheat has some big benefits such as high quality protein, good amounts of fiber and magnesium along with manganese, phosphorus and copper. Just one cup of cooked groats provides 4.5 grams of fiber, 5.6 grams of protein, 1.3 mg of iron, 1 mg of zinc plus other important minerals. All that and it’s low in fat and has no cholesterol.
If you have never tried buckwheat, I think you’ll really like it. Here are some of my favorite ways:
- In pancakes, of course. Substitute about 1/3 of your all-purpose flour with buckwheat flour in your favorite recipe.
- In muffin, quick-breads and even cookies. Remember, buckwheat often works best when blended with other flours such as wheat, spelt or oat. If you eat a gluten free diet, try it with ground almond flour and rice flour! Here is one of my favorite recipes for Gluten-Free Flaxseed Muffins.
- Make kasha in the morning! Hot and nourishing, it can be prepared just like oatmeal. Here is our easy recipe for Kasha Breakfast Porridge. And here is a great combo of oatmeal and buckwheat in this Apple Scented Breakfast Oatmeal and Buckwheat.
- Pair with legumes for a complete, hearty meal. Try this delicious Kasha and Chickpeas with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms.
- Cook up some kasha and add it to salads or turn it into a pilaf. Here’s an idea for Greek Kasha Salad and here is a delicious salad of Butternut Squash Kasha Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette and Spicy Almonds.
- Make your own varnishkes. Here is our recipe for Kasha Varnishkes with Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms.
- Make buckwheat soba noodles. Add them to soups, salads, or use them just as you would regular pasta. Here is a warming recipe for Chicken Soba Noodle Soup.
- Make a tofu or tempeh stir-fry. Spoon it over hot cooked kasha.
- Sauté onions, garlic and peppers. Add cooked kasha; serve as a side dish to chicken, pork or turkey.
- Sprout your own buckwheat seeds! Add them to a stir-fry or a salad.
And finally, for a real treat you’ll never regret, seek out some buckwheat honey! Dark and rich and amazingly delicious…a little bit goes a long way.
Is your life better with buckwheat? Mine is. Got a favorite recipe or way you enjoy it? Let me know!