Buckwheat, Amaranth and Quinoa are pseudo grains and thankfully gluten free too.These are grains which people find hard to work with. I have often been asked how to use them and this post is essentially to pour more light on these excellent oft neglected gluten free grains .
Let’s start with Buckwheat!
Many people mistake this for something which has wheat, well it has nothing to do wheat and is completely gluten free!
Scientifically known as Fagopyrum esculentum it is a pseudo cereal because it is seed from a plant, not a grain and is a relative to rhubarb and sorrel. Traditionally Japanese soba noodles are made from buckwheat.
In India it is known as Kuttu in Hindu, Papparai in Tamil and its most famous use is during days of fasting especially during Navratri. Kuttu Puri’s are a popular dish during this time of the year.
Buckwheat is higher in protein than other gluten – free flours and has a slightly sweet,nutty taste and a speckled appearance. Apart from puri’s ( fried indian bread) and rotis (indian flat bread) it makes for a healthy alternative flour for pancakes, porridges,pasta, cookies and many baked goods. It can be used as an alternative to rice and sooji/rava for making upma’s and many such dishes.
Commercially buckwheat is available in groats and as flour. Buckwheat groats are buckwheat kernels stripped of their inedible outer coating and then crushed into smaller pieces. You can make fresh flour by just grinding the groats in a grinder or buy the flour from a trusted brand which ensures its not cross contaminated with any other flour.
If you are not someone who is used to eating buckwheat in any form, just remember tastes are acquired so try to mix in something to the flour or groats, add spices/herbs or fruit to spike the flavour and you never know you might just end up with something you never had thought of before! Buckwheat flour is available online and in leading stores which store organic brands.
Amaranth is an ancient seed and said to be around for the 8000 years. Inspite of it being around for a long time you its use is still restricted to the America’s and some parts of India. Amaranth leaves are used in Indian cooking but it’s the seeds ground into flour which is a great option for Celiacs and people who are on a gluten free diet.
A word of caution about Amaranth. It should not be eaten raw because it contains toxic substances like oxalates and nitrates. Fret not though once it is boiled or ground into flour and baked or cooked those properties are eliminated. Again it is a great source of protein and packed with fiber and necessary vitamins and minerals.
Like Buckwheat, Amaranth too is used traditionally during Navratri. Also known as Ramdana in Hindi its often made into ladu’s ( Indian sweet) . You can use them just like you would use rice and add them to salads and stir fries. You can mix them in your bread mixes or roti mixes, cookies, muffins as it is high on nutrition. It is perfect when you want a little dense element to your baked goods.
Quinoa – The Trending Super Food
Quinoa pronounced Keen-wah is definitely been a trending super food for the past 2 years atleast, earlier I am talking about 2010-11 it was not at all seen in India. Things have changed since then and I am happy to know that farmers in Karnataka, India are now growing Quinoa as it does not require a lot of water to be cultivated.
Quinoa is primarily cultivated in South America, though as the World is discovering this golden grain it is slowly propping up on menus across the World. Shampoo’s and soaps have them too. The other day I was asked if I want a Quinoa hair spa?! and I was like wait, what? For a minute I was taken aback but such is the versitality of Quinoa.
Quinoa is like the grain equivalent of the Type A person who is good at everything. Great for diabetics, celiacs, for many other number of ailments, excellent nutritive values and full of antioxidants. The list for its benefits are long.
Use it in porridges, stir fry’s, salads, baking mixes, substitute for rice. Quinoa flour can be used in almost all baked goods. To cook quinoa you need 1-1.5 cups of water to 1 cup of Quinoa.
ABQ – The Trinity
The 3 grains have high protein levels, great for diabetics, and fill you up. So a little of it goes a long way. Make sure you add some starch in your baked goods if you add this to your mix. These are hardy grains so need a little starchiness help you work with it. Add a small amount of cooked potato if you need to easily make roti’s or other inspired flat breads. For Celiac Disease sufferers, it is important you have a variety of grains in your diet so that you don’t miss out on essential nutrients.
I use to find it difficult using them earlier on but over the years they have become easily available. Their costs have relatively come down and I have seen I feel better if I have these grains added to my diet. I’ll leave you to it then. Enjoy experimenting with these trending super foods!