Oct
03

Buckwheat, the Super Health Food, and 3 Delicious Sweet & Savory Ways to Enjoy It!

imagesWhat food is easy to make, has more protein than rice, wheat, millet or corn, is high in the essential amino acids lysine and arginine, abounds with health benefits, has no gluten and ranks low on the glycemic scale but high on the delicious scale—BUCKWHEAT! For some reason, this seed, which most people think of as a grain, seems to be normally kept deep in the back of the cabinet until it makes its cameo appearance at holiday dinners, only to return to dark recesses of the pantry afterward. It’s thought of  as an occasional side dish or a cereal in this country in some homes, but is enjoyed in almost all parts of world, either as groats (hulled buckwheat kernels), kasha (roasted groats) or buckwheat soba noodles. Flour made from buckwheat is a great, earthy alternative to other flours, especially since it’s gluten free.

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Buckwheat has been providing healthful nutrients, vitamins and fiber for approximately 8,000 years of human existence. I always have to remind myself that I should be serving it more often than pasta or rice because it’s benefits far surpass them. It’s hardy and substantial enough to make it the centerpiece for the main dish, which is exactly what I did last night!images-2 According to Dr. Perricone, in his article on Oprah’s website, buckwheat is #5 on his list of superfoods, so let’s explore the reasons to put buckwheat in our regular meals and not just on holidays…..

Health Benefits of Buckwheat

1) Great Source of nutrients: provides higher levels of zinc, copper and manganese than other cereal grains and the bioavailibility of zinc, copper and potassium is also quite high. We need potassium to maintain the water and acid balance in blood and tissure cells, zinc to bolster the immune system and copper to prevent neurodegenerative diseases.

2) High in Soluble Fiber: this helps to slow down the rate of glucose absorption, which is important to people with diabetes, by reducing and stabilizing blood sugar levels following meals. High in “resistant starch” which serves to reduce blood sugar level and enhances colon health.

3) Unsurpassed Cholesterol-lowering Capabilities (in food studies to date):  specific characteristics of buckwheat proteins and the relative proportions of its amino acids make buckwheat make it a super cholesterol lowering food. A considerable portion of buckwheat dietary fiber is soluble, which yields digestion by-products that reduce blood cholesterol levels and the risk of colon cancer. Reduces LDL (“bad”) cholesterol

4) Reduces Hypertension: buckwheat proteins reduce the activity of angiotensin converting enzyme thereby reducing hypertension like widely prescribed “ACE” hypertension drugs

5) Healthier Fat content: unlike true grains, buckwheat’s low-fat content is skewed toward monounsaturated fatty acids, similar to olive oil

6) Reduces Blood Sugar levels: attributed in part to rare carbohydrate compounds called fagopyritols of which buckwheat is by far the richest food source yet discovered.

7) “Blood-building” Food: buckwheat has high levels of rutin, an antioxidant polyphenol, which supports the circulatory system and helps prevent recurrent bleeding caused by weakened blood vessels as in hemorrhoids and varicose veins. Rutin is thought to also possess anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.

My family not only loves kasha, the roasted form of buckwheat, but the wonderful smell of it cooking evokes family gatherings. My husband came down for dinner last night to the aroma of kasha cooking and said, “Is Nana here?” I took that as a compliment because his Nana was a wonderful cook and his favorite foods are associated with his childhood memories of spending time in his grandmother’s kitchen serving as the taster of all her specialties. Even though, in omnivorous homes, kasha would be relegated to the side of the plate, I made it the main dish by treating it with the respect and deference that it apparently deserves as a superfood!

photo 7Adding other vegetables into the skillet with the kasha and nestling it next to slices of Field Roast’s Wild Mushrooms Quarter Loaf, we were very full after dinner and satisfied with plenty of leftovers. I served an appetizer of edamame in the shells with a sauce of Bragg Liquid Amino, dried minced onion and a tsp of minced garlic. I like eating the kasha cold the next day either plain or topping lettuce and tomato with it as a salad.

 

Toasty Veggie Kasha

by Ellen Francis, Vegan American Princess

Ingredients

  • 2 cups kasha, whole granulation sized kernels (this is important)
  • 2-3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced into medium pieces
  • 1 8 oz. package baby bella mushrooms, medium slices (or white is fine too)
  • 2 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup Bragg Liquid Amino
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn

photo 4 copy 2Method

  • 1) In a medium saucepan, make the kasha according to directions on box using vegetable broth and vegetable oil
  • 2) In large deep skillet, with a minimum of oil, on medium high heat, saute onions & mushrooms until soft and golden. Splash in some Bragg Liquid Amino, about 1/8-1/4 cup and let the mushrooms and onions absorb it while cooking. Stir in 2 tablespoons of minced garlic and 1 tsp garlic powder.
  • 3) Add frozen spinach, frozen spinach and frozen peas, stirring until cooked. Add some vegetable broth if it becomes dry.
  • 4) When Kasha is done and all the water is absorbed and it is dry,  spoon it all into the skillet with the vegetables and blend well
  • 5) Keep it on low and stir so that the kasha becomes toasty. Salt and pepper to taste. I find that it needs more salt than I expect to bring out more flavor.

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Another recipe that I’ll be making that is similar to the recipe above, is this Buckwheat Risotto, from Dr. Oz’s Website, that I veganized and promises to be delicious:

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Buckwheat Risotto

“veganized”, adapted from Dr. Oz’s website and Ulli Stachl’s recipe

Ingredients
Makes 6 cups

  • 2 tbsp grape seed oil
  • 1 1/2 cups small diced onions
  • 1 1/2 cups buckwheat groats, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms, diced small
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cloves thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups low-sodium veggie broth
  • 1/3 cup vegan “parmesan” plus more for topping
  • 1/2 cup Tofutti vegan “cream cheese”
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

BuckwheatRisotto720Directions

  • 1) In a large pan, heat the oil and cook the onions and buckwheat, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes until the buckwheat is lightly toasted and the onions softened.
  • 2) Add the mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until they have given up some of their moisture. Stir in the garlic, cook 1 minute, then pour in the wine and cook, stirring often, until the wine is absorbed.
  • 3) Add the broth, bring all to a boil and, stirring often, cook on medium high heat until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Mix in the  vegan “parmesan” and Tofutti “cream cheese until well combined. The risotto will still be a bit soupy but will firm up after standing.
  • 4) Serve with more vegan “parmesan” on top and parsley.

 

When we visited Paris, we had to enjoy the “crepe” experience and was surprised to be served buckwheat crepes in a little cafe. The rich, earthiness set it apart from the crepes I’d had in the past and, although it was hard to identify the flavor at first, the buckwheat flour added a delicious flavor that I’ll never forget.  I didn’t even know buckwheat was so healthy at that time. Here’s a vegan recipe that I’ve made from veganbaking.net….

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Vegan Buckwheat Crepes Recipe

from veganbaking.net

by Mattie

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup olive oil (use canola oil if you’re making sweet crepes)
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon flax meal
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (for sweet crepes only, optional)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (for sweet crepes only, optional)

Method

  • 1) Process all of the ingredients  Process all of the ingredients in a food processor for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a measuring cup that is at least 2 cups in size and let it sit for 30 minutes. This gives the batter a chance to curdle slightly from the acids in the lemon juice and for the gluten in the flour to bind slightly so the crepes hold together. While the batter is sitting prepare your fillings.
  • Suggestions for fillings: savory ingredients like beans, wild rice, and mushrooms or sweet ingredients like bananas, chocolate and coconut; peanut butter, maple syrup and walnuts or caramel, pecans and apples topped with a drizzle of cashew cream.
  • 2) Cook your vegan crepes to perfection   Pre-heat your skillet or crepe pan over medium-low heat. It’s pre-heated when water droplets flicked on it dance along the surface with a sizzle. Pour the batter into the skillet or crepe pan, pick it up and angle it while rotating the pan so gravity pulls the batter into a thin, flat disk. You want the batter to be about 1 millimeter thick. Cook the crepe about 2 minutes or until the face-down side is slightly golden. Another indication that the crepe is ready to be flipped is that the edges curl up slightly. Flip your crepe and cook on the other side about 1 additional minute or until it’s slightly golden.
  • 3) Continue cooking the rest of the crepes  Proceed with the rest of the crepe batter.
  • This recipe makes 8 to 10 Vegan Buckwheat Crepes.

Enjoy everything you make with buckwheat!

Vegan Rosh Hashanah Recipe: From Soup to Strudel

xox Ellen

Ellen

Ellen

 

Comments

  1. I always thought buckwheat was a grain! Who knew that it was a seed? I make vegan Kasha Varnishkes all the time with whole wheat bow tie pasta. My husband loves that. Your dinner last night looks great. I can’t wait to try all these recipes. You’re right, my buckwheat seems to sit in the back of the pantry. Gonna’ pull it out now!

  2. Thank you for sharing these delicious looking recipes! Trying to go vegan is becoming easier and easier with the help of ladies like you! Thanks!

  3. I love buckwheat as well and the recipe for buckwheat risotto sounds delicious . I don’t use wine so what do you suggest I substitute for that cup in this recipe?

    Also, thank you so much for your blog, it helps to know there are more of us out there on Long Island . Now if we could just get a few vegan restaurants in or near Bayside that would be great. Last month we had take out in a local vegetarian friendly restaurant and after the first bite of my family style tofu I discovered pork strips.

    • I would leave out the wine completely, if you want, and replace it with vegetable broth. Thank you for reading and your support of Vegan American Princess! Let me know how the recipe turns out!

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