As a child, I don’t think I ever thought of buckwheat as food. To me, Buckwheat was the character in the television show The Little Rascals that I watched at my grandmother’s house, and nothing more. I sat on my grandmother’s flowered couch (which was covered in flowered bed sheets), and she fed me chicken noodle soup and something called kasha, which, about a decade later, I learned was – in fact – buckwheat. And then it would take another decade or so – and my husband’s diabetes diagnosis – for me to learn that buckwheat wasn’t just one of those foods, like borscht, chopped liver, and gefilte fish, that no one expect my grandparents ate, but actually a delicious and incredibly healthful food.
Don’t let its name fool you – buckwheat is a seed, not a grain, which is why the flour doesn’t act like regular wheat flour in cooking. Milled buckwheat yields a powder that is far more absorbent than wheat flour, almost like a nut meal. Buckwheat is gluten free, and according to this study, it has four times more iron than rice flour, three times more calcium, over nine times more magnesium, and nearly six times more potassium. Buckwheat is also a very good source of manganese and dietary fiber, and the protein in buckwheat is a high quality protein, containing all eight essential amino acids.
Studies have indicated that consuming buckwheat may combat high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Also, good news for us, buckwheat has a low gylcemic index and should not cause a rapid soar in blood sugar levels. According to WHfoods, “The nutrients in buckwheat may contribute to blood sugar control. In a test that compared the effect on blood sugar of whole buckwheat groats to bread made from refined wheat flour, buckwheat groats significantly lowered blood glucose and insulin responses. Whole buckwheats also scored highest on their ability to satisfy hunger.”
Cooking and baking with buckwheat is easy, and Mike and I do it all the time. Below you’ll find excellent buckwheat recipes. First, a chicken and buckwheat stew, which is a winter staple for us. And second, a recipe for buckwheat apple cinnamon muffins.
1 chicken (4 pounds), divided
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cups buckwheat groats (roasted)
1 cup dry white wine (optional)
8-9 cups water
Salt & pepper to taste
In a large pot (I prefer a wide pot to a deep one) sauté the onions and celery in the olive oil until the onions start to soften (3-4 minutes).
Place the pieces of chicken in the pot, lower the flame, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add the buckwheat and mix it in. Add the water, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and let it cook for about 45 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the buckwheat is soft. Add the wine when most of the water has been absorbed.
Preparing these muffins gives off one of the most comforting smells in the world – apples and cinnamon simmering in butter. When I make them my sons always appear in the kitchen. “What are you making? Can I have some now?” they ask. And I spoon out a few of the apples from the frying pan for them.
Not only do these muffins smell great, they are also nutritious, thanks to the combination of buckwheat flour, almond flour, apples, and yogurt. There is no sweetener of any sort in the recipe, so if you must have a sweet element in your muffins then I recommend adding dark chocolate chips to the batter.
I like to have these in the house for the mornings that are especially rushed. My sons will happily eat them for breakfast. (You can warm them in the oven, halve them and then spread butter, jam, or cream cheese on each half.) I often grab one on my way to the gym, and find it gives me plenty of energy to get through a strenuous hour-long workout.
6 tablespoons of salted butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup plain yogurt (I use 3% fat yogurt)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup almond flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
Optional additions: diced walnuts or other nut, dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350
Peel the apples and chop them into small pieces.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan and add the chopped apples. Sprinkle the apples with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and mix thoroughly so that the apples are all covered in butter and cinnamon.
Simmer the apples until they are very soft (about 15 minutes). Stir regularly.
When the apple-cinnamon mixture is soft, remove from frying pan, and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in a large bowl blend eggs, yogurt, and vanilla, and 3 tablespoons of melted butter.
Using a hand blender or a food processor, puree the apple-cinnamon mixture. Add the puree to the bowl and blend well.
Add the dry ingredients – almond flour, buckwheat flour, and baking soda – to the wet mixture. Mix well.
Spoon batter into buttered muffin pan.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.