Despite the bewildering name, buckwheat is related sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb, and has played an important role in diets around the world – mainly in the Balkan Peninsula, Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia – for thousands of years. You may be familiar with Japanese soba-noodles, Russian blini, north Indian kuttu pakora and puri, and even French galette - all made of buckwheat flour.
As pseudo-cereal, it is technically non-grain, and therefore gluten-free and easy to digest. I have experienced this first hand when having used buckwheat, quinoa and millet for a month and then suddenly consuming Basmati rice. As much as I’m accustomed to eating rice, and love it, it dries up the body more, and may cause constipation. If you want to let your alimentary tract to rest for a while, choose buckwheat. However, I wouldn’t recommend it daily because it increases the fire element and passion of the body. Unlike rice that cools down, buckwheat supplies heat.
Buckwheat contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zink, and iron, and provides more well-balanced protein than grains in general. In fact, the amino-acid score of buckwheat’s protein is one of the highest among plant sources. Combined with pulses, it will give you more than enough fuel to live and prosper. In addition, buckwheat has niacin and folate, which are B-group vitamins.
Being whole-food, there is plenty of soluble fiber to slow down the rate of glucose absorption; insoluble fiber to speed intestinal transit time; and resistant starch, which is sometimes mentioned as the third type of dietary fiber, advantageous to overall colon health.
You might be interested to know that buckwheat is the best source of bioflavonoid rutin or citrus flavonoid glycoside, which is an antioxidant. It strengthens capillaries and can help people who bruise or bleed easily. Rutin has also anti-inflammatory, preventive and healing effects, and there are indications that it can inhibit some cancerous and pre-cancerous conditions.
Buckwheat grows so readily that it hardly requires pesticides and chemicals.
As for the taste, it is nutty and robust, and makes a statement. You can’t confuse it with any other grain or grain-like flavor. Neither can you hide it! I would say that it takes a while to get used to, especially if you want it to substitute rice or other neutral side-dishes.
I like to use roasted buckwheat groats, known as kasha. It is easier to cook and doesn’t mash together like the raw version. I also think the aroma is more delicate. For breads, I use both flakes and flour.
In my today’s recipe buckwheat makes a warm salad with black beans, roasted butternut squash, micro-greens and capers. I planned to add salty fresh cheese and toasted cashews to it, but forgot!