Following a gluten-free diet can lead you to interesting new foods. Have you tried buckwheat yet? You may be avoiding buckwheat since it has “wheat” in its name. Actually, buckwheat is fruit seed from the rhubarb family. It’s not at all related to wheat and does not contain gluten.
A gluten-free diet, and the typical American diet, is often deficient in whole grains, which results in low intake of essential minerals. Buckwheat is a whole grain that is a good source of magnesium, manganese and copper. Magnesium is an important nutrient that maintains healthy blood pressure and blood glucose. Manganese and copper are important for bone health, which is often of concern for those with celiac disease.
In addition to essential minerals, buckwheat is a great source of fiber. Fiber is found in carbohydrate-containing foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. Because fiber exerts such a positive effect on the metabolism of carbohydrate, consider the amount of fiber relative to the amount of carbohydrate in a food. Buckwheat, oats, quinoa and teff are gluten-free grains that have higher fiber-to-carbohydrate ratios than millet and amaranth. One-half cup cooked buckwheat, oats, quinoa or teff each contain 2-3 grams of fiber and 14-25 grams carbohydrate.
Buckwheat is a higher-volume grain, which helps you feel full and satisfied. Buckwheat is one of the lowest calorie grains; ½ cup contains about 80 calories, compared to 105-125 calories per ½ cup in teff, millet, quinoa and amaranth.
The fiber and minerals found in buckwheat work in synergy with antioxidants found in this whole grain. All whole grains contain varying levels of antioxidants and minerals; and all whole grains contain fiber. But most gluten-free products, such as breads, pastas and breads, are not made from whole grains, and if you aren’t careful your gluten-free diet will be deficient in fiber, minerals and antioxidants. Get the positive synergistic effect of whole grains by incorporating a variety of gluten-free whole grains into your diet.
Try Something New
In addition to being good for us, incorporating a variety of whole grains into our diet keeps things interesting. Try one new grain each week. While buckwheat has unique nutritional properties, all whole grains have benefits; no grain is significantly better than another.
Always buy grains from gluten-free facilities and avoid bulk bins. The only time you may purchase grains from a bulk bin would be if you were able to identify the source of the grain and procedures in place to avoid gluten-contamination. Your safest option is to purchase naturally gluten-free grains from dedicated gluten-free facilities. If you can’t find whole grains in your city, shop online.
Buckwheat comes in two options: buckwheat groats, which are not roasted and have a lighter flavor or as kasha, which is roasted buckwheat and has a nutty flavor.
Rinse buckwheat well. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup rinsed buckwheat and cook for 20 minutes until soft. Buckwheat cooks just like brown rice or oatmeal. The sky is the limit when it comes to preparing grains! Use buckwheat as a breakfast cereal or in pilafs, stir-fries, burritos, salads, soups and stews.
All grains freeze well. Cook buckwheat in bulk and reserve some for the freezer for quick meals.
Curried Buckwheat Risotto with Raisins and Almonds
Makes 6 1½-cup servings
This is an interesting side dish that partners well with fish or chicken. Sprinkle fish or chicken with the spices used in this risotto and bake while you prepare the risotto. Serve with a salad and you will have a balanced meal ready in 30 minutes!
½ sweet onion
3 cloves garlic
1-tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
¾ of a head of cauliflower
1-teaspoon curry powder
1-teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon ginger powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
1-cup buckwheat groats
3 cups vegetable broth, split
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup almonds
½ cup parsley
Iodized salt, as desired
Black pepper, as desired
Dice onion and mince garlic.
Place a large skillet or deep saucepan on medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent.
While the onion and garlic cook, dice carrots and cauliflower. Set aside.
Add spices to the onion, garlic and olive oil and then add the buckwheat. Mix spices around until the buckwheat, garlic and onion are coated with the spices.
Add one cup of the vegetable broth. Increase the heat to high until the broth is boiling, and then reduce the heat to medium high. Add the carrots and cauliflower, and mix to combine. Allow the broth to be absorbed by the buckwheat and then add another cup of vegetable broth.
While the risotto is cooking chop the almonds. Set aside.
When the liquid is absorbed again, add the raisins, almonds and last cup of vegetable broth. Allow the liquid to be absorbed.
Mince the parsley and mix in to the risotto. Add iodized salt and black pepper to season to your liking.
Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan
Per 1 ½ cup serving:
197 calories, 6 grams fat, .8 grams saturated fat, 411 mg sodium, 32 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 6 grams natural sugar, 7 grams protein
Hana A. Feeney, MS, RD, CSSD is an open-minded, unconventional dietitian. As a Food Coach, Hana provides accountability, motivation and clinical expertise to her clients in one-on-one nutrition counseling sessions and through interactive food experiences. With functional nutrition as her platform and using mindful and intuitive eating practices Hana guides her clients to optimal health and wellness. Hana specializes in weight management, sport nutrition, autoimmune diseases, digestive health, celiac disease, PCOS, fertility and healthy pregnancy.
www.nourishingresults.com for recipes, information and inspiration