Buckwheat is not part of the wheat family, so don’t freak out! It’s a fruit seed related to rhubarb. It is actually classified as a pseudo-grain. Pseudo means false, so it’s a false grain because buckwheat is actually a seed! It’s often referred to as a grain because it’s used in the exact same way in cooking. This is exciting for all of us gluten-free, grain-free eaters because buckwheat is loaded with nutrients!
Buckwheat increases the immune-boosting friendly bacteria in the gut. Since the majority of our immune system resides in the gut, we want to make sure the “good guys” are strong and hold their ground against “invaders”. Buckwheat is also one of the best sources of lignans, which protect against cancer (breast cancer specifically) and heart disease. Lignans have anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties…proving their cancer-fighting benefits.
It provides a rich supply of flavonoids (really strong antioxidants). Free radicals that cause wrinkles and aging on the outside and that also play a role in leading to diseases on the inside are gobbled up by these antioxidants, keeping us youthful and healthy! Fiber-rich buckwheat helps to reduce high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease, especially in postmenopausal women. It also helps to control blood sugar and lower the risk of diabetes.
Trying to lose weight or maintain your weight? Yep, it helps with that too by keeping us satisfied and feeling fuller longer. It’s also a complete protein which helps to promote a lean, strong body!
Buckwheat comes in many different varieties, which is fab so we can get it into our diets in lots of tasty ways:
Buckwheat Groats are unroasted, raw kernels with their shell removed
- This is the least processed form of buckwheat.
- If buckwheat is toasted it is known as “kasha”, it has a stronger nuttier flavor. I prefer always buying the groats and toasting my own if I prefer. They already have a pretty strong flavor on their own.
- To make buckwheat groats or kasha use 1 cup buckwheat and 2 cups liquid (chicken broth or veggie broth is delicious!) Bring liquid to a boil add buckwheat and turn down heat to low. Llet it simmer (lightly bubble) for 20-30 minutes. Until light, fluffy and soft.
Creamy Buckwheat is ground unroasted buckwheat.
- It is the consistency of oatmeal and it is a wonderful hot breakfast choice.
Buckwheat flour is ground buckwheat groats.
- It is an excellent option for gluten free, grain free baking. I usually ground my own flour in my Vitamix or BlendTec, which is cost effective and insures maximum freshness. I use buckwheat flour in my Chewy Chocolate Cookie recipe.
Where to find:
All varieties of buckwheat can usually be found at health food stores and of course online. I usually purchase buckwheat in the bulk section at my local health food stores. Just make sure that the bins containing the buckwheat are covered and that the store has a high turnover to ensure it’s fresh.
How to select and store:
It’s ideal to keep all varieties of buckwheat in the refrigerator or freezer, but since refrigerator space is a high commodity I store small amounts of buckwheat in a wide-mouth mason jars in my pantry and try to use it in 4-6 weeks. Buckwheat flour should always be stored in the freezer or refrigerator. Whole buckwheat can last up to a year, while the flour will keep fresh for several months. So when I find it on sale, I stock up and keep it in the freezer.