A highly versatile staple in Russia and the Orient, buckwheat is quickly gaining popularity as a highly nutritional health food. Unlike wheat, rice or barley, buckwheat has no gluten which makes it a great whole grain for people with gluten allergies or Coeliac’s disease. Buckwheat groats are dark in color and look similar to sunflower seeds. They can be further processed to make farina or buckwheat flour, and used to make porridge, noodles, breads and pancakes.
Health Benefits of Buckwheat
Buckwheat is an ideal food choice for people on weight management, or who have high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes. This grain is lower in calorie and fat than most other grains. One cup of cooked buckwheat groats has only 155 calories, about 50 calories less than wheat. There is only 1 gram of fat in a cup-size serving, and all of it is unsaturated and heart healthy. Additionally, buckwheat is high in fiber and protein, making it conducive for better digestion, blood cholesterol and sugar control. Buckwheat is also an excellent source of B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. These nutrients help to promote faster metabolism, better circulation and stronger immune system. Research has also found that the glycoside rutin in buckwheat can help treat diabetic and cholesterol damage to your blood vessels and capillaries, which reduce your risk of hemorrhage, stroke and other diabetic complications. Additionally, buckwheat protein can effectively bind and remove your blood cholesterol, keeping you safe from atherosclerosis and other heart diseases.
Making Buckwheat Porridge
You can find buckwheat groats or kasha in the health food section of grocery stores, and they make a super healthy breakfast hot cereal. To make a plain porridge, bring 2 cups of water to boil for every 1 cup of kasha. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot. You should stir it ones every 5 minutes and recover the lid. The porridge will be done in about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for 2 or 3 minutes longer before serving.
You should also consider sprucing up the porridge with chopped butternut squash, pumpkin or sweet potato. They make the porridge much creamiest and better tasting. By adding these vegetables, you also add significant amount of extra nutrients and antioxidants to your breakfast. You can also substitute milk for water to during the boiling process and add a tablespoon of honey to serve.
Cooking Soba Noodles
The soba noodles served in Japanese and Korean restaurants are made with buckwheat wheat. You can make your own noodles soups at home from dried soba noodles. These noodles are available in the ethnic food section.
To cook, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a touch of salt and sesame oil for smoother taste and texture. Hold dried noodles at one end and slowly add them to the boiling water. The noodles will soften as they are heated. Stir once to make sure all strands are covered by water. Cover the lid and simmer for about 10 to 12 minutes. Remember thicker noodles may take longer to cook. Finished noodles are al dente, but they are not mushy either. Remove from heat and drain.