It's the New Year, and you're looking for more ways to be healthy, starting with what you eat. Gluten-Free might be on your list, either for health reasons such as celiac disease, IBS or gluten intolerance, or you want to be more healthy in general. We have highlighted 3 grains that will surely have you going on the right path. Some you may have heard of, and some you might be learning about for the first time. Read on to learn more.
Wanting to try some new "grains" preferably ones that are more healthy and contain less chemicals? We have just the three for you.
What is Buckwheat?
Don’t be fooled by its name, buckwheat has absolutely no relation to wheat. In fact, buckwheat is gluten-free; it's a pseudo-cereal crop (foods that are cooked and eaten like grains and have a similar nutrient profile) and comes from a flower blooming plant. This white flower blooming crop has many health benefits that anyone will benefit from. It is believed that buckwheat has been around and aiding humanity for over 8,000 years. Buckwheat is said to originate in the Balkan region of Europe, and with time, introduced to the Asian continent and used in cuisines such as Japanese soba noodles.
The plant itself is very self sustaining and does not need much in order for it to grow. It tends to grow so fast that it does not need very many pesticides or other chemicals. Besides it's grouts being used as fuel, the nectar left from the white flowers provide a dark honey and the stalks, once the grouts are cultivated, can be used as straw for livestock.
Health Benefits of Buckwheat:
- Buckwheat is gluten free
- Buckwheat contains higher levels of zinc, copper, and manganese than other cereal grains
- Buckwheat is rich in calcium, iron, vitamin E, and B vitamins
- Buckwheat is rich in Lysine, a commonly used essential amino acid that helps build muscle and collagen (great for the skin) as well as aids in the absorption of calcium and stimulates the production of creatinine. The body uses creatinine to reduce blood levels of the bad cholesterol.
- It has a high amino acid rate and one of the highest in plants.
- It stabilizes blood sugar levels and is high in soluble fiber, making it ideal for people with diabetes. In fact, there have been many studies on the benefits of buckwheat for diabetic patients as the rate in which glucose is absorbed by the body after having buckwheat is much slower.
Where to Use Buckwheat:
There are tons of recipes that incorporate buckwheat. Here are a few uses in food:
- Cooked and served with milk of your choice as breakfast cereal
- Soups, makes it more hearty and filling
- Overnight “oats”
- Homemade granola
- Soba noodles
When ground into a flour it can be used to make:
- Cookies and so forth
You can also use buckwheat as a substitute for rice and use as a side dish. It tastes delicious cooked with vegetable or chicken broth.
What is Teff?
Another ancient grain that has been used by older civilizations, teff comes from the region of Ethiopia and Eretria (Northern Africa) and is the smallest grain found. It comes from a grass that can withstand even the harshest of climates and sources the highest level of calcium found in other grains.
Health Benefits of Teff:
- Teff is gluten free
- High in Calcium (a cup yields about 123 mg)
- One of few grains to contain Vitamin C
- Just like buckwheat, it is high in resistant starches which means it helps with blood sugar levels
- High in protein and a great source of energy
- Uncooked teff contains many of the B Vitamins
- Great source of fiber
Teff can be eaten raw or cooked and can be used in the same way as Buckwheat.
Where to use Teff:
- Porridge or “oatmeal”
- Homemade granola or health bars
- Add some into homemade lemonades (raw)
- Overnight “oats”
- Try Injera, traditional Ethiopian bread (It is eaten with most food, is spongy in texture and tastes a bit like sourdough bread.)
When ground into flour it can be used to make:
- Waffles and so on.
What is Quinoa?
By now, you have probably heard a lot about quinoa, or use it as a staple in your kitchen. However, how could we not include this wonder grain as one of the healthiest grains to add to your diet? Food of the Incas, quinoa is a high source of protein and is in fact a pseudo-cereal similar to buckwheat. Quinoa grows high in the Andes mountains of South America and has been around for 3,000-4,000 years. The Incas referred to it as the “chasaya mama,” mother of all grains, and due to the fact that it can survive in droughts and does not need much tending to; the United Nations has coined it as a, “super crop.”
Health Benefits of Quinoa:
- Quinoa is gluten free
- High in protein as it is the only plant food that is a complete protein (great for vegetarians)
- High source of amino acids
- High in potassium which helps in balancing blood pressure
- Low in fat
- Contains vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, potassium, and riboflavin (helps with migraines)
- Contains minerals: copper, zinc, magnesium, and folate
- Has anti-inflammatory benefits since it’s high in anti-oxidants, quercetin and kaempferol
- Rich in complex carbohydrates which helps in balancing your blood sugar levels.
- Promotes digestion as it is high in fiber
- Great source of energy and stamina
Where to use Quinoa:
In the last 5 years, quinoa has become very popular and therefore finding it in your favorite supermarket is much easier, as well you will find quinoa as an ingredient inside many breads, pastas, and crackers. You can also use it in the following:
- Cook and serve with milk as a cereal substitute
- Pastas containing Quinoa
- Homemade granola and health bars
The next time you are in a bind and have no idea what healthy options there are, check out these three grains. They are packed with health benefits, easy on your digestive track and utterly tasty.
Photo Source: Life Unexpected