Thursday, February 12, 2009

Whole Grains 101: Buckwheat



I remember wondering as a child why my mother would ever rather eat a buckwheat pancake than a fluffy white one covered in maple syrup and butter, I now LOVE all things buckwheat! (My taste buds have changed dramatically since childhood). Soba noodles, kasha, buckwheat flour, love! The first time I had Buckwheat groats (Kasha) was at the home of a Russian friend-her Babushka made a pot every morning and ate it with almost every meal. I enjoyed it so much, once I returned home, I scurried over to the little Russian Grocerystore down the street to pick some up. Now I usually pick mine up in bulk at Whole foods, cook a bunch up on the weekend and portion it out for the rest of the week. Its so easy to cook- just a 1:2 groat:water ratio, simmered for 20 minutes. I usually add Braggs Liquid Aminos but its such a hearty grain on its own! My dinner today was buckwheat, heated with tofu and green beans with thai chili pepper, simple, hearty, satisfying, with a little kick! Next I plan on sprouting some and making a few raw salads!
Buckwheat is technically not a grain; it's a cousin of Rhubarb, and gluten-free! {something I don't necessarily avoid, but important for a lot of people} But, it resembles a grain nutritionally, has a similar texture, method of cooking and versatility. Its high in Magnesium and Manganese, and has 4.5 grams of fiber/cup. Full Nutrition Stats can be found here. Whole grains are should be an important part of everyone's diet-They are the grains as nature entended- unstripped and unrefined-not just "empty" calories like their refined counterparts. So many studies are being done to show how important they are to overall health. When most people think of a whole grain, whole wheat, oats and brown rice are about all that come to mind. But there is a whole world of grains out there to be explored!

2 comments:

Gina said...

In my world you are now the buckwheat queen, so I have a question for you. I recently, on a whim, bought hulled buckwheat in the bulk section at my store. They also had roasted, which, I believe is what kasha is? I tried kasha once and didn't like it, which was why I bought this kind. But...since it is hulled, does that make it no longer a whole grain? Or does buckwheat need to be hulled in order to eat it? I mean, this store has so much stuff, I couldn't imagine them not having unhulled buckwheat if it was better for you. The stuff I have looks like your picture there.

Oookay, I hope that question made sense, haha.

Elizabeth Jarrard said...

:) So, what I understand is that because buckwheat on the plant is a fruit seed (not a grain), resembling a sunflower seed or dandelion seed (it is an Achene http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achene) you have to hull it in order to be able to eat it. (The hulls are actually used in as a type of filling, like pillow stuffing). So it is still a "whole grain" i.e. it nutritionally resembles a whole grain. Good luck with your buckwheat! Hope you like it the second time around!!