What is Buckwheat?
Although buckwheat may make some of us instantly think of the Our Gang / Little Rascals character, buckwheat has become rather trendy in the past few years as an alternative to rice.
Technically, buckwheat is not a grain. It’s not even related to wheat. It is a seed, from the rhubarb family, but one that can be used in a wide range of recipes in a manner similar to wheat. The people of China and Japan, where it originated, have reaped its health benefits for centuries, but it remains relatively new to the US.
Benefits of Buckwheat
Buckwheat is quite a nutritional powerhouse. Since it is not a wheat, it doesn’t contain gluten, making it an ideal dietary option for those who are gluten sensitive or who have celiac disease. It is high in fiber and protein, and is a good source of iron and magnesium. Magnesium helps the body’s metabolism function effectively, and a half cup serving of buckwheat contains a mighty 51 mg of the mineral, as well as 0.8 mg of iron and 3 g of protein, all for just 90 calories.
Buckwheat also contains rutin, a substance believed to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, thus helping to prevent heart disease. What’s more, it is excellent for reducing blood sugars, therefore lowering the risk of diabetes, and its insoluble fiber may help to reduce the risk of gallstones. Incidentally, 1 cup of buckwheat for breakfast contains more fiber than a cup of oatmeal and a slice of whole wheat toast combined.
How to Use Buckwheat
Most of us are familiar with buckwheat pancakes. However, there are a wide range of recipes that let us get a daily serving of this wonderful grain substitute. It can be cooked in the same way as oatmeal, for an even healthier breakfast alternative. It can be baked in bread and cakes and, when combined with egg, the combination of amino acids forms a perfect protein. Its nutty flavor also makes it an ideal addition to soups and stews, or it can be eaten cold as a salad. The Japanese enjoy it in soba, a buckwheat noodle which can be eaten hot or cold. The sprouted seeds can be added to salads or stir-fries, while the flowers produce a delicious honey.
https://www.recipeland.com/category/view/?cid=328 has a long list of recipes using buckwheat, from traditional pancakes to stir-fries, soups, and pasta.
https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=11 provides a look at buckwheat’s benefits and some of the many scientific studies that have been done.