Benefits of BuckwheatJune 10, 2016
Text written by Sophie Geoffrion, nutritionist
Botanically speaking, this month’s featured ingredient is not a cereal per say. Also called “black wheat”, the buckwheat is a small pyramidal grain belonging to polygonaceae family, just like its close cousins the rhubarb and dock plants. However, given its popularity and specific culinary usages, we classify it as a pseudo-cereal, much like quinoa.
Buckwheat is very popular in Eastern Europe where such grains are greatly appreciated whole or crushed and grilled (kasha). These preparations are often times served as a side to saucy, simmered dishes. Blinis, also made from buckwheat flour, are a variety of small pancake which feature savory toppings, including caviar.
In Japan, a combination of wheat and buckwheat flours are used in the making of soba noodles, a delicious component in soups and sautés.
Back home, we usually tend to feature buckwheat flour in our thin flavourful crêpes; these typically contain fillings such as spinach and aged cheddar, bananas, strawberries and molasses, or smoked salmon, pickled red onions, crème fraîche and dill. We can also mix things up a little by replacing regular oatmeal with a big warm bowl of comforting buckwheat porridge. Raw health food adepts often garnish their salads, breakfast bowls and desserts with sprouted then dried buckwheat grains.
Finally, honey bees love the fragrant flowers of the buckwheat plant, allowing us to indulge in a darker and more flavourful honey, in comparison to clover, for example.
In terms of nutritional attributes, many will be pleased to be informed that buckwheat does not contain gluten. In fact, one cup of roasted buckwheat will provide you with 5g of fiber and 6g of high quality vegetal protein. Some say that the protein contained in the buckwheat grain is ‘complete’, however this statement is not entirely true. Buckwheat does indeed contain essential amino acids (these amino acids are what contains the protein chains), but not in the ideal proportions to be metabolized by the human body. If you’re omnivore or vegetarian, this information won’t be of much importance to your nutrition. However, if you’re vegan, if will be important for you to vary your sources protein (legumes, nuts, seeds, cereal products, etc.) so the amino acid profiles of your foods complement each other and so you don’t miss anything to synthesize your own protein. Buckwheat is also a great source of vitamins and minerals. Generally, the darker the flour, the more nutritious!
We challenge you to cook your buckwheat grains this week! To do so, coat the grains with a beaten egg, roast them in a pan for a few minutes and add twice the volume of a boiling liquid. Cook 15 to 30 minutes, depending on if the grains are crushed or whole. You’ll get a tasty preparation to add to a warm salad or to serve as a side dish. Happy discovery!