The popularity of my post “Are Soba Noodles Healthier Than Spaghetti?” showed that many of you are looking for ways to introduce healthy whole grains and cereals into your diets. Great news!
Buckwheat (or soba) in Japanese is one of THE most nutritious foods. I’m referring to buckwheat groats, not the namesake soba noodles, which are often made of mostly plain old refined white flour.
According to Dr. Michael Greger’s video “Great Grain Robbery”:
when wheat is milled into flour, 25 nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are removed and five are chemically replaced. There is also a 300-fold decrease in phytonutrient content. If we have a choice, never again white rice and white pasta!
Whole buckwheat is full of protein (15%) and rich in flavonoids such as rutin–which helps protect against heart disease–and magnesium, needed for blood pressure control and building strong bones. Since buckwheat is not related to wheat, it is also naturally gluten-free.
When I wrote my original post, I promised to share some more recipes using buckwheat (soba), so here are some simple ones to get you started.
When I first became vegan, I really missed the breakfast cereals I used to eat such as bran flakes, corn flakes and granola (many of which contain not only animal products but sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and chemical preservatives as well). That was until I learned it’s not that hard to prepare your own nutritious and tasty cereals from scratch.
Little did I know then about the simplest whole grain breakfast cereal of all time: “Buck-wheaties”. Eating buckwheat for breakfast will not be new to those of you already eat Kasha-a dish originally from northern Europe and Russia made from roasted buckwheat groats, or mixed with a variety of grains as a porridge.
Unlike Kasha–which are roasted buckwheat groats–Buckwheaties are made from raw hulled buckwheat groats. These are often found in the bulk bins of health food markets, next to the more popular toasted Kasha. Because raw buckwheat is still fertile, it is a light greenish color compared to the brown Kasha.
- Soak 1 cup whole (hulled, unroasted) buckwheat in filtered water for 20-30 minutes.
- Rinse several times (it will be a little sticky), drain in a sieve/strainer, and place strainer in a bowl at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Rinse well and drain every 8-12 hours.
- Within a day, your buckwheat will begin to sprout. It usually takes 2-3 days to reach the length shown here, depending on light and weather conditions. More detailed information on sprouting buckwheat (and other grains and seeds) can be found on SproutPeople.
- After giving the sprouts a final rinse and draining them thoroughly, you can eat them as-is (they will keep in the fridge a couple days), or cook them. While cooking reduces nutrition, it is still higher compared to unsprouted buckwheat.
Ideally, you’ll want to dehydrate your buckwheat groats to make them crispy. Using a food dehydrator (115 degrees for 4-6 hours) is best. Since most people don’t have dehydrators, you can spread out the drained buckwheat sprouts on a sheet pan, and place them in your oven on the lowest temperature (cracking the over door will help keep the temperature down) until they are just dry, not wilted.
Once the buckwheat groats are dehydrated, they will keep for several weeks. You can eat them with non-dairy milk and fruit and mix them “Mana-bowl” style with other whole grains like oatmeal, chia seeds, etc.
Sprouted Buckwheat Granola Bars
Another way to use buckwheaties is in snacks like granola bars and energy bars. Below is a recipe you can make with a dehydrator or optionally set in the refrigerator.
3/4 C Almonds
3/4 C Buckwheaties
1/2 C Raisins
1/2 C Sunflower seeds
1/4 C Liquid sweetener (agave, maple syrup, etc).
1/2 t Cinnamon
1/2 t Vanilla extract
- Chop almonds in a food processor till grainy (do not overgrind, or you will have made almond butter)
- Mix chopped almonds in a bowl with buckwheaties and remaining dry ingredients, then add the liquid ingredients.
- Spread the dough in a small pan (about 5″ square and 1 1/2″ deep).
- Dehydrate for 24 hours (you can use oven again). You can also let them harden in the refrigerator, although they will be soft and chewy rather than crispy.
- Cut into 6 bars or smaller cubes (as shown in the top photo). With cute wrapping, these would make excellent healthy halloween treats!
Please give these recipes a try and leave me a comment to let me know how they turned out. Meanwhile, I will be busy looking for more delicious ways to incorporate nutritious buckwheat in both raw and cooked plant-based dishes.
Don’t forget to eat your Buckwheaties!