Entries in Nutrition (13)
Spring has sprung! Well...sort of...that's what it feels like these last few days. Last week was another story. I think it snowed a little bit every day...just to anger me. For now the sun is shining, snow removal is in the works (yes you heard me right) and it's 5*C, woohoo! I'm itching to get back on my bike and hit some trails. Le sigh. At least Spring is making promises. Let's just pretend it's not supposed to snow tomorrow mmmmk?
Good. First I have some news to share. I've finally created a facebook fan page for edible sound bites. If you'd like to follow me you can find the link to the side of the page under the Subscribe & Follow heading. Please follow, I'd love to hear your feedback if your a fan!
The second bit of news is a little more exciting; I've been choosing from a select few to appear in the next FOODIE iPad Cookbook App. My recipe for Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter will be featured along with 40 other recipes. I'm not sure how much info I can giveaway, but the FOODIE cookbook app has previously been featured in USA Today, Mashable, and Consumer Reports. I'm super excited! I will definitely post a link when I have one.
Say hello to Amaranth.
This tiny little seed is one highly nutritious gluten free grain. While it may look like millet or quinoa, I assure you it's not. Amaranth is actually quite smaller in size and whiter in colour. We're talking teeny tiny! It has a slightly sticky texture when cooked the traditional way in liquid, is nutrient rich, and high in fiber. It also has a high concentration of lysine, an essential amino acid (one of the building blocks of protein). For a bit of historical fun, it dates back 8,000 years to when it was used by the ancient Aztecs as food staple.
Personally it's one of my fave gluten free grains. I love the texture, taste and versatility of it. Even more so I love it's nutrition. You've gotta love slow digesting carbs for stable energy and blood sugar.
Here is the nutrition profile for 1 cup of cooked amaranth (1/4 cup dry):
With high amounts of protein, fiber, calcium, lysine, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B2 and folic acid you can't go wrong. It actually contains more protein than any other gluten free grains and more protein than wheat. In fact, the protein content of amaranth is similar to the proteins found in cow's milk. It's a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in most other grains. Bottom line - amaranth is an excellent plant source of high quality proteins that are well absorbed when eaten. Take that quinoa! Just kidding, I still love you quinoa.
With a low glycemic index, amaranth is also slightly lower in carbohydrates than other gluten free grains.
Where To Buy Buckwheat
Like other gluten free/ specialty grains it's not easily found in grocery stores. I find it in the healthy food store or of course Whole Foods and specialty grocery stores like Nature's Emporium. Here the link to buy online from one of my favourites Bob's Red Mill; buy organic amaranth online.
Preparing and Cooking
Just prior to cooking, rinse and strain your amaranth throughly in cold water until the water runs clear to remove any dirt. To cook, boil 1 cup of amaranth in 2 1/2 cups of liquid such as water, vegetable or chicken stock, or milk of any kind (cow's, coconut, almond etc). Reduce heat and simmer for 18-20 minutes until tender. Fluff with a fork a serve. Take care not to over cook it as it can become "gummy" in texture.
Keep amaranth stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, out of direct light. When stored in the fridge it will keep for 3 to 6 months.
Get grinding and make some flour! Amaranth makes a sweet, spicy, earthy, nutty flavoured flour best used in waffles, pancakes, cookies, muffins and quick breads. Just don't use amaranth flour exclusively in gluten free baking because your end result will be too dense. You'll need to blend it with a variety of gluten free flours, especially for baking yeast breads and cookies, pancakes should be okay though.
By nature, amaranth absorbs water very easily making it a good thickener for soups with added nutrition.
It can be cooked as a cereal and used as a replacement for oatmeal. Sprouted and placed in salads. Toasted is another great way to use amaranth. Just toast and add to yogurt, smoothies, trail mix etc.
My personal favourite is popping the tiny seeds like popcorn... Post to come!
Happy Easter everyone!!! Have a great weekend.
Good morning all!
I'm back with another addition to my new series here on Edible Sound Bites called Great Grains! Today the spotlight is all on Buckwheat. If you're new to the series I'm basically creating a beginners guide to gluten free whole grains. So far I've tackled millet and followed up with a recipe for Millet with Butternut Squash and Kale, which was absolutely delish if I do say so myself. I am planning to do more than one recipe per grain in case you're wondering. Hopefully I can get a nice little collection going for each of the "grains".
Buckwheat is a nutritious and energizing wheat free grain, which makes it an excellent choice for vegans, vegetarians and those who are sensitive to wheat and gluten. It's also a delicious alternative to the traditional a bowl of porridge made with rolled oats. Buckwheat may sound like a cereal grain but is actually a fruit seed. The raw groats are hulled and triangular in shape. They have a delicate nutty flavour and are very crunchy to eat. Toasted buckwheat groats, also know as Kasha, are different from the raw buckwheat groats, because ...you guessed it they're toasted. You can tell the difference by looking at the colour; raw groats are soft white with a slight greenish tinge (like you see in the pictures in this post), where's toasted groats are darker brown. I don't recommend baking with them or grinding them into flour. This is just a personal preference.
Here is the nutritional profile for 1 cup of cooked buckwheat (1/4 cup dry):
Buckwheat is one of the best sources of protein in the plant kingdom. It's also a complete protein that contains eight of the essential amino acids. Now you know why it's a favourite among non-meat eaters. It also satisfies hunger, unlike refined breads and white flours/starches.
It's a very good source of minerals including manganese, magnesium, and copper. A one cup serving (cooked) contains 86 milligrams of magnesium. That's pretty good considering the RDA for magnesium is between 310 to 400 mg per day! If you're reading this thinking, "why should I care about magnesium and what the heck is it anyway", it's actually said to help lower blood pressure by improving blood flow and nutrient delivery within your body. How's that for a healthy heart?
Don't forget the fiber. This super-grain boasts 5 grams of dietary fiber for 1 cup cooked/1/4 cup dry.
Buckwheat is rich in flavonoids rutin and quercitin. Without getting too in-depth here, flavonoids are plant based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation, prevent and repair cellular damage, and promote healthy arteries. Naturally they come from fruits and veggies, but they're also found in tea, dark chocolate and red wine. Yippee!
Where To Buy Buckwheat
You can buy raw Buckwheat groats online here. And of course you'll find them at your local health food store and even some of the larger grocery stores like Whole Foods and Zehrs Markets.
Prepaing and Cooking
Just like we did with millet, first rinse the grain under cold running water for about 30 seconds to remove any dirt. Then add one part buckwheat to 2 parts boiling water. Return it to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover for 30 minutes or until the water is absorbed. This is the basic cook like oats method, but there are other ways of cooking buckwheat as well.
The raw groats can be cooked like rice and millet and then used in salads and side dishes.
Grind in your food processor or coffee grinder (for small batches) to make your own flour. You can buy buckwheat flour, but I find the taste to be a little strange. I prefer to grind it fresh when I need it. Fresh is best! It's a great alternative to other flours in both quick and yeast breads. Perhaps this is why pancakes seem to be the number thing made with it.
They make a wicked bowl of porridge. It's a great substitute for wheat and oats.
Use them as the base grain for pilafs instead of rice.
I can guarantee I'll be doing a lot of experimenting with it in the baking department. Be on the lookout next week for a buckwheat recipe.
I'm excited to share that this post is the first to be featured in a series: Gluten Free Whole Grains! I'm really looking forward to expanding on this series that I've coined Great Grains. Every so often I'll post about a new grain and include information on how to cook it, nutritional stats + benefits, uses etc. Then my plan is to follow up with some recipe posts for each grain.
Nothing is really set in stone yet. It will most likely be a gradual thing that I will add to here and there and in between other posts. I have so many ideas rolling around though. This will be really fun.
I hope to make this new series informative and helpful to those who are interested in making some healthy changes to their diet and are maybe confused or unfamiliar with some of these super food ancient grains. It's also for the gluten intolerant of course because these are all wheat free grains that I will be profiling. Hopefully I can introduce you to some new a wonderful grains that are certainly included in my pantry staples.
In no particular order, here are the grains that I plan to tackle in the posts to come:
- Millet (today of course)
- Wild Rice
Just to be clear I am not a doctor or registered dietician.
Now let's get cookin'!
Millet is a gluten free grain-like seed that is tiny, round, and pearled shaped. It is usually the colour of ivory but can also be red. Funny enough it's used quite commonly as a main ingredient in bird seed and is one of the first grains/seeds to be cultivated. It was the main grain in China before rice. It's texture and consistency vaires on the way it is cooked; it can be fluffy like rice or creamy like porridge. It is a very good source of nutrients including manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. Millet also stores very well and can have a shelflife of up to one year when stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place.
One of the main reasons I love millet so much is for it's alkaline pH content, which makes it easy to digest and one the least allergenic foods. It is the only "grain" that retains it's alkaline properties after cooking. I'm not going to pretend I know everything about it, but in crude basic terms a pH level is the measure of how acidic or alkaline our bodies are. In theory, if we eat certain alkaline-forming foods like fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts, we can help maintain the body's ideal pH balance which improves or maintains our health. Check this site for more info on alkaline foods.
Here's the nutritional profile for 1 cup of cooked millet (1/4 dry):
Millet is also rich in B vitamins (including niacin, which can help lower bad cholesterol), potassium, iron, zinc, and copper. It's very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It may not be a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids, but it is still considered to be a good source.
Where To Buy Millet
You can find millet at your local health food store, bulk food store (like the bulk barn for those of us in Canada), or even the health food section of your grocery store. Whole foods is another great place where you can find it. You can also buy it online. Here is a link to buy Bob's Red Mill Millet.
Preparing & Cooking
Before cooking your millet you'll want to measure out the amount you will be using (1/4 dry will yield 1 cup cooked) and rinse it thoroughly under cold running water for 20 seconds or so until the water runs clear. You'll want to do this in a fine mesh sieve/strainer to hold the the grains. If you don't rinse the grain first it may have a bitter taste when cooked.
The ratio for cooking is 1 part millet to 2 parts water or broth. To cook 1 cup of raw millet just pop it in a heay bottomed saucepan or pot with tall sides, add 2 cups of water or chicken/veggie broth and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce the heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Let it cook for 20 minutes then take it off the heat and, much like rice, let it sit for 5 minutes and serve! This will give you a fool proof fluffy millet.
- Millet can be ground into flour and used in various baking recipes such as breads, muffins, biscotti and scones.
- It's a great alternative to rice or potatoes.
- Adds body to soups.
- Can be used as a replacement for regular oats and enjoyed and a breakfast porridge. Just cook in water and top with berries, banana, nut butters, granola, maple syrup or any nuts.
- It's even delicious on cold salads and in stir frys.
Well that's about it for Millet, I hope you enjoyed it and I'll be back soon with a recipe.
Until then here's a few awesome recipe's to get you going:
Stir Fried Millet from Cookie + Kate
Cinnamon Roll Porridge from The Healthful Persuit
Pumpkin Pie Millet Porridge from Naturally Ella
Blueberry Crumble Crisp from Gluten Free Goddess
Millet Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Kale, and Beans from The Edible Perspective
Creamy Millet Pudding from Pickles & Honey