Buckwheat groats are highly appreciated for their rich nutrients and innumerable health benefits. Containing no gluten protein, raw and sprouted buckwheat groats are excellent substitutes for whole grains in the gluten-free diet.
Despite the name, buckwheat is not even a distant relative of wheat. While wheat is a monocot and true cereal, buckwheat is a dicot and pseudocereal. It is actually a seed of the Fagopyrum plant, and share plant family with sorrel and rhubarb. Also, there are two other wild buckwheat varieties, which are edible. In the market, you will find buckwheat groats and flour based on these whole grains.
The partly processed, hulled buckwheat grains are called buckwheat groats. Commonly consumed as an alternative to rice grains, they are sold as raw or toasted versions. Buckwheat cereals are available throughout the year.
While the bitter-tasting raw grains are not applicable for direct cooking, they have more flavor than the toasted groats. The toasted grain is called kasha, and forms a staple food in European and American diet. Taste wise, buckwheat grains are tender with slight nutty and earthy in flavor.
Though buckwheat groats are grouped under pseudocereals, they are used in the same way as true cereals. What makes them more interesting is the lack of gluten protein. A one cup serving (164 g.) of dry, roasted buckwheat grains yields 567 calorie, while the same amount of cooked grains provide 155 calories.
Buckwheat cereals contain high percentage of proteins, carbohydrates, B vitamins, rutin, lecithin, tryptophan, dietary fiber, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, and several phytonutrients.
Buckwheat is the best grain substitute for people who are sensitive to gluten. It is claimed that this whole grain is a rich source of eight essential amino acids. Buckwheat is beneficial for lowering risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, and other cardiovascular diseases.
The high amount of flavonoid content aids in reducing unhealthy lipid accumulation in the body. Being a potential source of insoluble fiber, this pseudocereal works wonders in avoiding gallstone formation. Besides these, diabetic patients benefit from buckwheat groats, in terms on better control over blood sugar level.
Method of Cooking
Cooking buckwheat groats is no different from cooking other cereals. They can be used in any food recipe that calls for rice grains. So, you can expect the versatility of this healthy pseudocereal. However, raw or whole white grains are slightly bitter in taste. Hence, slight toasting in oil (till grains turn rust colored) is done before actual cooking.
The popular methods for cooking are absorption (most commonly followed technique), boiling, and steaming. If you know how to make steamed rice, you can easily cook plain buckwheat. The thumb rule is not to overcook them, or you will get a mushy dish.
Best part is you can reap the health benefits of sprouted grains by sprouting buckwheat grains. For this, you will need unhulled, raw groats, not the toasted ones. To start with sprouting procedure, add some unhulled grains in a colander and wash them under running water.
Transfer the grains in a large bowl and pour water, till the level is about 1 inch from the grains. Soak them for 30-60 minutes, and add them in a strainer. Rinse properly and keep aside. In a shallow pan, line a wet cotton cloth, and add rinsed grains. Cover with another wet cotton cloth and leave for sprouting.
After about 1-2 days, you will notice sprouting of buckwheat groats. For best sprouts, ensure that you wet the cloth once after every 8-12 hours. The sprouted buckwheat is excellent for making salads.
In case of non availability, you can use millet and quinoa as substitutes. In addition to whole grains, you can include buckwheat flour and use it in making noodles, crepes, pancakes, muffins, and other baking recipes.