Buckwheat – the amazing real food (and not a grain!)
A few attendees at my recent workshops have asked about buckwheat so I thought it needs a post of its own as it’s a pretty special food!
I grew up with buckwheat and have found it astounding that it is relatively unknown in Australia. In Russian it’s called ‘grechka’ meaning ‘of Greek origin’, so quite probably it came to Eastern Europe from Greece, although historically it was widely cultivated in China. This amazing plant is a seed and a relative of rhubarb and sorrel (officially classified as a fruit). Despite the English name for it, it has nothing to do with wheat and is completely gluten free.
Buckwheat nutritional benefits
It’s a great carbohydrate source without the insulin impact. It is very filling. Studies show that it can benefit in management of diabetes, moderating the insulin response. Buckwheat contains good amounts of potassium, magnesium and manganese, important minerals that are really lacking in our diets.
It is also very rich in rutin, quercetin, lutein and zeaxanthin – all potent flavonoid antioxidants. A great source of good plant fibre as well as protein, it contains all essential amino acids.
Being gluten free and highly digestible, it is well tolerated even by those with digestive disorders.
How to store, prepare and enjoy buckwheat
Buckwheat flour should be stored in the fridge, while whole buckwheat grains can be stored in air-tight container in pantry. As usual, organic is best and every health food shop will have buckwheat.
Like all seeds and nuts (and grains and legumes) it needs to be soaked overnight to ensure any phytic acid is removed and nutrition is maximised (see this post for more info on phytic acid). The easiest way to enjoy whole buckwheat grains is to cook up a ‘porridge’ and eat it as you would rice or quinoa (see recipe below).
Buckwheat has an earthy, nutty taste and is delicious! I regularly cook buckwheat and top with meat/chicken/veg for a delicious school lunch in a thermos.
For a delicious buckwheat flour pancake recipe, see this post.
-3 cups raw buckwheat ‘grains’
-3 cups liquid: preferably home-made chicken or beef/lamb broth, alternatively use filtered water
-1/4 tsp sea salt for cooking and 1/2 tsp for soaking
-large knob of butter
-‘Activate’ your buckwheat the night before by soaking it in a bowl of filtered water with the 1/2 tsp of salt
-Before cooking, rinse the buckwheat and drain
-Place in pot with broth or water and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 mins or until it looks and tastes like porridge! (It should be soft and not too firm to taste)
-Serve with big knob of butter!
For breakfast version, add fruit, nuts and a bit of wholefood sweetener such as molasses or maple syrup if desired. For main meals, serve with chicken, fish, meat- whatever you like! and some sauerkraut on the side:)
Activated Buckwheat (‘Buchinis’)
Activated buckwheat is a great addition to your home-made muesli or used in cruchy snacks like ‘muesli’ bars.
-‘Activate’ your buckwheat the night before by soaking it in a bowl of filtered water with a tsp of salt
-Rinse, drain and spread on an oven tray lined with baking paper
-Dry in oven at no more than 50◦C for 24-48h, until dry and crispy. That’s it! Done. Enjoy!
Do you cook buckwheat? What’s your favourite way to enjoy it?