Buckwheat

This month’s featured ingredient: Buckwheat

It’s back to school time! Time to pack lunches and snacks and to fill ourselves and our loved ones with fuel to carry us through the days and into the changing season. What could be better than an energy bar?

Several years ago I created an energy bar that many of you may already enjoy. For years I had the privilege to co-teach a seven-week class series called Eat To Beat Cancer with an amazing Portland naturopath named Dr. Louise Tolzmann. Louise’s understanding of integrative cancer care is insightful. I learned a lot from her as I prepped salads and stews, chopped collards and kale, and displayed wild mushrooms and green teas. It was during one of these class series that I formulated that favored energy bar in response to a passionate discussion about finding a bar that wasn’t loaded with sugar, isolated soy protein, and other difficult to pronounce ingredients. A bar that didn’t cost a small fortune to stock in the cupboard!

Recently I’ve been wanting to update that recipe. So many of my clients and friends cannot eat gluten. The previous recipe contains oats–which are not a glutenous grain, but are typically contaminated with gluten. (Oats are usually planted as a rotating crop with wheat and/or processed in plants with wheat.) Therefore. the grains to avoid when eliminating gluten are wheat, spelt, kamut, rye, oats, and barley.

BUCKWHEAT IS NOT A WHEAT!

I also wanted to get the very most out of the base grain used for these new bars. While I know it may be an effort to soak and sprout your grains, it’s well worth it! If you have kids in the house, it’s also a fun science experiment. It’s easy. And while it may not speak to the quick fix that so many of us are accustomed to, it brings you back to some time honored traditions and allows you to “grow your own” right in your kitchen. I encourage you to give it a try for this back-to-school treat.


BUCK SWEETIES


This is a great recipe to make with your sweeties–big or little. They can smash the nuts in bags or between parchment paper. They can mix, pound, and press. It’s satisfying to make and to eat!

ingredients:
2 cups sprouted, crunchy buckwheat (see instructions below)
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped pecans
1/2 cup roughly smashed cashews
1 cup dates, roughly chopped
1 tspn mesquite powder (optional) or cinnamon
1/2 cup local raw honey
1/4 cup tahini or nut butter
1 tspn vanilla extract
1/2 tspn sea salt

preparation:
1) Grease an 8″ square baking pan with the coconut oil.
2) In a large bowl, combine the sprouted buckwheat, coconut, seeds, nuts, dates and mesquite or
cinnamon. Set aside.
3) In a separate bowl, mix the raw honey and tahini or nut butter. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla and salt and blend these into the sweet mixture.
4) Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and mix until well combined and evenly incorporated. Spread into prepared pan.
5) Using wax or parchment paper, press the mixture
tightly into the pan. Use some force and pressure to really press out all the air bubbles and compess the mixture as much as possible. I like to use a wooden mallet to pound it down.
6) Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before cutting into squares. Store in fridge for up to one week.


What Do You Mean ‘BUCKWHEAT IS NOT A WHEAT’?

Interestingly, buckwheat is not only not a wheat, it’s not even a grain! Buckwheat is a hearty seed from a weed-like plant that can survive in poor soil in cold climates. No wonder it’s a blood-building food that aids circulation!

The plant from which buckwheat comes is a relative to the rhubarb family. Buckwheat is slow to digest, and therefore satisfyingly filling and beneficial in helping to maintain even bloodsugar levels.

Buckwheat has a high amount of calcium, vitamin E, a complex range of the B-vitamins, and an impressive amount of the eight essential amino acids compared to the cereal grains. Yet since buckwheat is a seed, and not a cereal grain, it is gluten-free and a great substitute for those avoiding gluten or grains in general.

references: The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Woods, The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, ND, whfoods.com

SPROUTING BUCKWHEAT

For this recipe, use 2 or more cups of raw/hulled buckwheat, otherwise known as buckwheat groats. (Note: Kasha is toasted buckwheat and will not work here.) Anything leftover can be stored in a glass jar and used to make raw granolas, parfaits, or crunchy toppings.

1) Place the buckwheat in a bowl and cover amply with water. Give the buckwheat a stir to make sure that none floats to the top. You’ll want to soak the buckwheat for a minimum of six hours. The soak water will become slimy. You can rinse and replenish the water during the six hours, or just rinse thoroughly at the end of your soaking time. I like to put mine in a mesh or fine-holed colander and really give it a thorough cleaning.

2) If you have a dehydrator, you can then spread the rinsed buckwheat onto parchment or Teflex lined trays and dehydrate until dry–about three to five hours at 115 degrees.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can spread the rinsed buckwheat onto cookie sheets and put them in the oven overnight with the oven light on. This will produce a low heat that will dry and “dehydrate” the buckwheat to make them crisp!

Option: I like to sprout my buckwheat a little longer, until it grows a tiny tail. After the initial soaking time outlined above, instead of moving directly to the dehydrator, I put them back into a bowl covered with a paper towel or a large jar covered with mesh. I then rinse and drain the buckwheat twice a day, returning it to its bowl or jar, just until I see a tiny tail form. For a tiny tail, this usually takes about two days.

WHY SPROUT?

Sprouting transforms a dormant nut or seed into a living food! You can take a food that has been sitting in a bag or on a shelf for months and watch it grow a little sprout–the first signs of life.

Sprouts are easier to digest than their mere cooked or consumed counterparts. They contain active enzymes that aid in the assimilation of their bountiful store of nutrients.

Sprouts are inexpensive, nourishing, and can transform your kitchen into a temporary “garden”.

And during this busy transition time, sprouts provide an excellent practice in patience.



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Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Is there an ingredient you'd like to learn more about? Is there a nutrition class you always wish existed? Let me know!