What is buckwheat?Buckwheat is a “false” grain, otherwise known as a pseudo-grain or pseudo-cereal. Pseudo-grains originate from shrubs or bushes rather than grass like “true” grains such as wheat, oats and rice. The seeds from “false” grains can be grinded into flours and used in the kitchen just like grains. Pseudo-grains, like grains, are primarily made up of carbohydrates. Hence, the name. Buckwheat does not actually contain wheat and is gluten-free. Therefore, it’s safe for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance to consume.
Where does buckwheat come from?The cultivation of buckwheat dates back to 8,000 BC and continues to be a staple of Eastern European cuisine today. It has become much more popular in recent years in other cuisines due to the rising number of those looking to eliminate gluten from their diet. Buckwheat is a delicious and nutritious food and can be part of a healthy diet for those who consume gluten and those who do not.
What are the benefits of eating buckwheat?Buckwheat is loaded with high-quality protein and healthy minerals. It’s also high in fiber, providing 4.5 g per 1 cup cooked buckwheat per serving. High fiber foods can help promote digestive health, stabilize blood sugars, and encourage heart health by reducing cholesterol levels. Buckwheat’s high fiber content makes it a superior carbohydrate choice for those with diabetes and/or those trying to lose weight, as it should not cause blood sugar spikes and provides a sense of fullness. Buckwheat contains 6 g of protein in one cup cooked, which is slightly higher than most true grains. Magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese and iron are all significantly present in buckwheat and contribute to overall health when consumed in adequate amounts. These minerals found in buckwheat are likely absorbed better than most due to the low phytic acid content in buckwheat, which can inhibit the absorption of minerals.
What foods contain buckwheat + how to eat itBuckwheat takes on the same culinary value as grains and can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. The seed hulls are often ground into flour to make pancakes, waffles, crepes, pasta and soba noodles. Many enjoy buckwheat in groats form as well, which are hulled buckwheat kernels. Groats are a whole grain that make a nice substitute for oatmeal. Top cooked groats with fruit for a sweet option or cook groats in vegetable or chicken broth rather than water for a savory grain bowl. Buckwheat has a nutty flavor, so groats are also delicious when used like a nut. Toast them in a skillet over medium heat or bake in the oven until they become darker and fragrant. Use these crunchy groats to sprinkle onto salads, soups, stews, hot cereal and to make granola.
How to Prepare Buckwheat Groats
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup buckwheat groats
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- In small pot, bring water to boil. Add buckwheat and salt. Return to boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cover and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain any remaining water.