Hot New Food: Buckwheat

by in Food News, Healthy Recipes, January 15, 2009

I’m a long-time fan of buckwheat and was so excited to see it on the American Farm Bureau’s list of hot food trends for 2009.

What is buckwheat?
Though usually referred to as a cereal grain, buckwheat is actually a type of fruit. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious! A relative of the rhubarb plant, buckwheat has a mild nutty flavor and a slightly softer texture than other grains. Mainstream uses for buckwheat are flour (great for pancakes), soba noodles (shown above) and kasha. Kasha — or “buckwheat groats” — are the whole buckwheat kernel; you can find them roasted or unroasted at most health food stores. The buckwheat plant’s flowers are used to make a dark, rich honey.

Though buckwheat is originally from China, the main producer today is Japan, where people eat soba noodles New Year’s Eve as a symbol of longevity. Soba noodles are traditionally (and painstakingly) made by hand – an amazing process to watch. Most of the U.S.’s buckwheat comes from New York, Pennsylvania and Missouri.

Why is buckwheat “healthy eats”?
Buckwheat is high in magnesium, good for healthy muscles, and fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. One cup of soba noodles has about half the calories of a cup of regular pasta. Buckwheat also contains the antioxidant rutin, known for helping lower cholesterol and strengthen small blood vessels (both benefit your cardiovascular system). Buckwheat is also a gluten-free food, which makes it a perfect substitute for those who have trouble digesting wheat.

What to do with buckwheat?
Buckwheat’s mild flavor compliments virtually anything. Soba noodles taste amazing with Asian flavors such as ginger, soy and sesame. Make a cold salad or combine with lean protein for a dinner better than any take-out. Make a batch of savory kasha varnishkes, a combination of kasha and bowtie pasta, one of Toby’s favorite dishes. Try adding kasha to soup. Toss leftover steamed or roasted vegetables with cooked noodles or kasha for a simple and hearty lunch.

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Comments (14)

  1. Nancy Wilkerson says:

    I have “severe Crohns disease with complications” I have had it since the early 1970’s. I ate healthy before Crohns, but since Crohns there is little I can eat. I can’t exercise much due to what Crohns’ does to the joints. Anybody have suggestions?

  2. Toby Amidor says:

    Hi Nancy!

    Dana and I both agree that you should look on ADA’s Eat Right (link on left) to find a Registered Dietitian in your area that specialized in Crohns. Some of the healthy recipes we suggest on HealthyEats can then be incorporated into your plan.

    Thanks and good luck!

  3. Gail says:

    Can I buy this at a local market or must I go to a health food store and what is a brand name? Perhaps I can have the store order it. Thanks.

  4. Laura says:

    Gail, I buy Wolff’s brand kasha at King Soopers (a Kroger store). It is located with the Kosher foods.

  5. I’ve had health issues and adding buckwheat to my diet has helped in many ways. You really are on top of things Dana!

  6. Anissa Otero says:

    I look forward to trying this.

  7. Virginia Grigas says:

    i would like to know more about his product any informatiom you have please e-mail me

  8. eila roark says:

    What are the carbs in buckwheat? or Soba Noodles? The flavor is great as is the texture but not sure of the carbs. Thanks for your answer

  9. Sandra Di Sario says:

    Dear Nancy Wilkerson,
    Chron’s can be easily managed if you rebuild your intestinal tract. Go see a licensed naturopath ASAP!

  10. Brenda-SoCal says:

    Nancy you can also look into Probiotics.
    Also everyone remember if you want a particular food tell your market where you shop they can get it for you.

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