More than Alfalfa’s Little Rascals friend

By Karen Frye

Many folks think of buckwheat as a grain — especially because it has “wheat” in the word — but it’s actually a seed. Buckwheat groats (often called kasha) are seeds from a plant related to rhubarb and have been used throughout the world as a regular part of the diet. It can be ground into flour (the pancakes are delicious), eaten as a pasta (soba noodles), a porridge or as buckwheat sprouts.

The nutrients in buckwheat are amazing, making it clearly one of nature’s superfoods. It is gluten-free with few calories and a unique amino acid profile, containing substantial amounts of easily digestible protein. The antioxidant content is impressive with a good amount of rutin, quercetin, magnesium and other important minerals. It is also high in insoluble fiber — almost 5 grams per cup.

You may find you want to ditch your morning bowl of oatmeal or cereal for a bowl of buckwheat groats. You can prepare them easily, and add a little maple syrup or fresh berries to create a superfood breakfast. There is a delicious, easy-to-prepare creamy hot cereal made of buckwheat available at Nature’s Own.

Maybe you or someone you know could use the nutritional perks of buckwheat.  It helps:

— Lower inflammation and increases good cholesterol;

— Balance the blood sugar, reducing the risk of diabetes;

— Lower high blood pressure;

— Prevent gallstones;

— Slow the progression of hardening of the arteries;

— Protect against breast cancer; and

— Relieve constipation.

How about that? A little seed with a powerful punch. Here’s a delicious recipe, great for a summer lunch, and easy to prepare.

Buckwheat Wraps

Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup diced onion

3 1/4 cups water

1 tablespoon miso paste

1 bay leaf

1 1/4 cups buckwheat groats

1 stalk celery, chopped

1/2 cup shredded carrot

Pinch of paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

6 large collard (tender) leaves, chard or cabbage, washed, patted dry and large vein removed

Sauté the onions with 1/4 cup of water for about 3 minutes. Add miso, bay leaf and the remaining 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Add the buckwheat and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the buckwheat is soft (but not mushy). Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add the celery, carrot, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir and mix well.

Stuff the leaves by adding the mixture (the amount depends on the size of the leaves) toward the wide end of the leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling and stem, and roll the leaf up, compressing the mixture a bit (like when wrapping a burrito). Use a toothpick or skewer if necessary to keep it together.

Serve with avocado, hummus, tomatoes, spinach leaves, sprouts or whatever you might enjoy! 

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Nature’s Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

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