Buckwheat – What It Is and How to Cook It
What is Buckwheat?
Although it has ‘wheat’ in its name, buckwheat is not a cereal grain or related to wheat in any way – this means that it is gluten free! It is known as a pseudocereal and it is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel.
Commonly found as raw buckwheat groats, it can also be processed into flour and noodles. The groats are usually brown and irregularly shaped, and taste earthy and nutty when cooked. They can be used in a number of different ways, but it is common to use them in the same way as you would rice.
Benefits of Buckwheat
Compared to other grains, buckwheat holds a much higher nutritional value. The main dietary component is carbohydrates, but it also contains a high level of protein and is rich in various antioxidants, contributing to a number of health benefits.
Health Benefits – Improved Blood Sugar Control
Buckwheat is a rich source of protein and magnesium which improves your blood sugar balance. Ranking low to medium on the glycaemic index, once you have consumed buckwheat, your blood sugar levels rise more slowly and gradually. Also, magnesium works as a co-factor for enzymes involved in glucose and insulin secretion.
Health Benefits – Heart Health
Your cardiovascular system can benefit greatly from buckwheat due to its source of the antioxidant called rutin. Rutin helps prevent blood clots forming, inflammation increasing, and blood pressure rising; magnesium also improves blood flow whilst lowering blood pressure. These heart-healthy compounds significantly cut the risk of heart disease.
Health Benefits – Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
As mentioned before, buckwheat is rich in various antioxidants; these can protect DNA from damage, inflammation and formation of cancerous cells or heart disease. These antioxidants can also support brain and liver function, as well as your digestive health.
Health Benefits – Improve Digestion
As a good source of fibre, buckwheat will fill you up for longer and encourages the transit of food, ultimately regulating your bowel movements. On top of improving your digestion, it will prevent oxidative stress within the colon and digestive tract, and your digestive organs will be protected from cancer and infection.
How to Cook Buckwheat
Before cooking buckwheat, it is suggested that you sprout the groats in order to improve the absorbability of the nutrients and reduce the enzymes that some people may struggle to digest. To sprout the groats, you should:
- Soak the dried groats in a big bowl of water between 30 minutes to 6 hours.
- Wash and strain the groats after soaking.
- Leave them out in a shallow dish in a space where they will be exposed to air.
- Regularly add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the dish to keep them slightly damp.
- After 2-3 days, check for sprouts; they will be around 1/8-inch to 2-inches long.
- Once sprouted, rinse and drain before putting them in a container.
- Refrigerate for up to 7 days, washing every day to prevent mould and bacteria.
To cook the buckwheat, you should:
- Rinse well and, following a 2:1 ratio (2 cups of water for every 1 cup of buckwheat, combine with water in a pan.
- Simmer on low for around 20 minutes; regularly check to see if they are plump and at the desired texture.
- If it looks like you’ve added too much water and they start to get mushy, strain some of the water out.
- Strain when cooked, and serve.
Buckwheat Recipe – Buckwheat Coco Pops (Serves 20)
100g Coconut Oil
100g Cocoa Powder
150g Cacao Nibs / Dark Chocolate
- Heat oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / Gas Mark 4, line two large baking trays with baking parchment and rinse the buckwheat.
- In a large heatproof bowl, melt the coconut oil, honey, cocoa powder and a pinch of salt over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Once melted, stir in the buckwheat, covering it in the chocolate mixture.
- Spread the mixture onto the baking trays and bake for 7 minutes.
- Take it out, add the cacao nibs or dark chocolate, give it a stir, and put it back in the oven for another 7 minutes.
- Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container and keep for up to a month.
Buckwheat is considered to be a superfood due to all of the benefits listed above. At Bury Wholefoods, we supply Buckwheat so you can enjoy this superfood as part of your organic diet – Visit our shop today.