April 26, 2015

Quick and Easy Buckwheat: What is it? How do I use it?

Buckwheat.  Everyone’s talking about it.  You’ve probably heard of it, you may have seen it in your local grocery store or health food store.  But what is it?  And is it really a “superfood”?  Here are some quick and easy facts about the wheat, that isn’t really a wheat.
That’s right, first of all, according to the Vegetarian Times, despite its name, it isn’t actually a wheat.  It’s a plant seed related to rhubarb.  It’s a popular addition to many diets because it is high in fiber and magnesium, which is great for muscles and bones.  Some evidence suggests that it might even help prevent type 2 diabetes and stroke.  It’s also Gluten-Free!  This wonder-food has many different uses and benefits, including being great for skin health and hair health.
Alright, sounds good, but what’s this “kasha” stuff I see on the shelf next to buckwheat?  Kasha is the roasted form of buckwheat, while the other is the raw form of the seed.  You can roast it your self, if you like, giving the seeds a deeper, nuttier flavor.  Either way, it can be prepared similarly to other whole grains.  Buckwheat flour can add a distinct flavor to baked foods.  There are many ways to cook it, Vegan Coach has instructions on how to clean and soak it, boil or steam it, along with some hints on how to store it and what flavors to pair with it.  In addition, it can be “sprouted” for use in many other recipes.
What can I make with it?
Lot’s of things!  From granola, to soups, to muffins! Vegetarians and vegans have embraced the use of this ingredient, but the benefits of it are not limited to meatless diets.  Here are a couple breakfast recipes to start with.  Research indicates regular, whole grain breakfasts reduces the risk of heart disease.
Overnight, Healthy, Whole Grain Cereal  (start the prep the night before and enjoy a fresh, unique and healthy breakfast treat)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw buckwheat groats, soaked in water overnight
  • 1 ripe large banana (half mashed, half chopped)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon and vanilla extract
1. In a bowl, whisk together the chia seeds, banana, and cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well, eliminating all the clumped chia seeds.  Leaving uncovered, let the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight.  (Soak the buckwheat groats overnight in a separate bowl, just covered with water.)
2. After soaking, rinse the buckwheat with cold water.  Add this into the chia mixture and stir well. Top with your desired toppings or make a parfait with yogurt.
Basic Healthy Pancakes (the dry ingredients can be combined in larger quantities to make a dry mix you can store for later use.)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 6 tbsp each all-purpose flour, and buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the first three ingredients.
2. In another bowl, mix together both kinds of flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Pour the dry ingredients into the egg-mixture. Incorporate the two mixes
3. Heat a griddle or large frying pan to medium-hot, melt butter onto surface. Spoon the batter into the frying pan, form 4 inch pancakes out of the batter. Flip pancake over once bubbles form on the top.  Cook them on the other side for about 3 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Enjoy the many benefits of this, one of the World’s Healthiest Foods.

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