Thursday, May 26, 2011

What the Buck?

Buckwheat is a tricky grain. Mostly because it's not actually a grain. It is not related to wheat, nor is it considered a cereal. Technically, it's a fruit, harvested from the flower of the buckwheat plant (Fagopyrum esculentum)

If buckwheat could make friends, it would definitely be in the same social scene as quinoa and amaranth. The three have a lot in common: all are grain impersonators which are unrelated to wheat or cereal (in fact, quinoa is a relative of spinach and swiss chard), all are gluten free, and all are fantastic sources of vegetarian protein -- particularly the amino acid lysine, which is not manufactured by our body and must be supplied through diet.

Buckwheat makes a mean breakfast: in milled form it can be the base of a hearty pancake batter...but on a rainy, windy morning like today, it's whole "grains" make for the perfect creamy, hot cereal.

1/4 c of Bob's Red Mill brand buckwheat went into a bowl with 3/4 c water and was loosley covered and nuked in the microwave for 3 minutes. Use a big bowl to prevent it from bubbling over. If you use slightly less water, the result will be something that has the appearance and consistency of a sticky rice cake; slightly more, and it forms a gloopy, porridge-like consistency. For the former, stirring in some low fat milk created a creamy texture that, in my opinion, didn't need any added sweetener. The latter came out a bit slimy, and had that distinguished "so-good-for-you-it-tastes-like-cardboard" quality. It needed something to balance the texture and taste: a little brown sugar, honey, berries or raisins should do the trick. I had bananas in my kitchen, so I sliced one up as a topping and enjoyed with dash of brown sugar and a side of coffee.

The sum total of this buckwheat, banana and milk breakfast supplies you with about 350 kcals of energy. The breakdown is below:

Cream of Buckwheat Breakfast Breakdown (in calories):
1/4 c Buckwheat:  140
1 c milk: 102
1 banana: 110 
1 c instant coffee: 1

Berglund, D.R.. (2011, May 26). Buckwheat Production. Retrieved from

Ronzio, R. (2005). The Encycopedia of Nutrition and Good Health. New York: Checkmark Books.

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