Categories:Baking Hints & Tips Flour and Grain Hints & Tips Gluten free Grain Recipes Healthy Lifestyles
Buckwheat Flour Adds Nutrients and Flavor to Baked Goods:
Check out all of Charlotte Bradley’s Healthy Lifestyles columns.
As allergies to wheat become more prevalent, many people find themselves looking for healthy wheat flour alternatives.
One of the most versatile flours that I have recently began to use more in my own baking is buckwheat flour.
Buckwheat flour is gluten-free which makes it a good choice for anybody with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
It is packed with nutrients, readily available, easy to work with and has a nice nutty flavor.
What is Buckwheat?
Buckwheat flour is ground from Fagopyrum esculentum, more commonly known as buckwheat. Although treated as a grain, buckwheat is not a cereal or grass, but it is actually a fruit that is closely related to wild rhubarb. To distinguish it from grains, it is sometimes called a pseudo cereal. The name “buckwheat” comes from a Dutch word that means beech wheat. This is in reference to the fruit of the buckwheat that resembles a small beech nut.
Buckwheat is a very hardy plant that thrives in difficult conditions even without the use of pesticides and herbicides. It also matures quickly and is quite nutritious. All of these factors make it a popular crop to grow in many places around the world.
Once mature, the entire plant is harvested and allowed to dry before removing the outer husk. The inner part of the fruit is what is used to make flour. After is completely dried out the buckwheat is ground into flour.
According to how much of the dark hull is left in, buckwheat flour is either light or dark. Light buckwheat flour (sometimes called fancy buckwheat flour) is made from hulled buckwheat while dark buckwheat flour (also called supreme buckwheat flour) is made from unhulled and has dark specks throughout. The dark variety is higher in fiber.
If you suffer from gluten intolerance, check that the buckwheat flour you purchase is not processed in a facility where wheat flour is also processed. This reduces the risk of cross contamination.
Benefits of Buckwheat Flour:
The nutritional profile of buckwheat is quite impressive. It is high in fiber, protein, niacin, amino acids and vitamin D. It is also rich in potassium, phosphorus, iron and calcium. The protein in buckwheat is said to be one of the best sources of protein available from plants and it contains all of the essential amino acids.
Because it is gluten-free, buckwheat is a suitable substitute for wheat flour for anyone with celiac disease or sensitivities to gluten. Although it is a specialty flour, I find it is more readily available than other types of non-wheat flours.
Buckwheat is good for the cardiovascular system. It is linked to lower blood pressure and a lowered risk of developing high cholesterol. This is because it is rich in flavanoids which are phytonutrients that help protect against disease by acting as antioxidants.
Buckwheat also contains high levels of magnesium which helps relax to blood vessels that improving blood flow. The nutrients in buckwheat also help to control blood sugar levels and of great benefit to people with diabetes.
How is Buckwheat Flour Used?
In Japan, buckwheat flour is used to make soba noodles. In several countries, buckwheat pancakes are traditional fare. In Russia they are known as blinis. In France, buckwheat is used to make galettes. In the Ukraine, hrechanyky are a type of yeast rolls made from buckwheat.
If you don’t have any wheat or gluten sensitivities, you can blend buckwheat flour with wheat flour to boost both nutrition and flavor. If using buckwheat for bread, no more than half of the total flour should come from buckwheat.
For people who do not eat gluten, buckwheat flour can be used on its own in baked goods or combined with other types of gluten free-flour, such as brown rice flour.
Recently, I modified my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (based on recipe from the Joy of Cooking) to a Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe and the cookies turned out really well. Some gluten-free baked goods are quite crumbly but this cookie was crispy on the outside yet still chewy, in fact they were slightly chewier than when I make them entirely with wheat flour. Put to the test by my 6-year old twin boys, the cookies got a big thumbs up! Check out the recipe here: Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Charlotte Bradley is the publisher of YogaFlavoredLife.com and an avid yoga practitioner. She was a student of karate for many years and took up yoga only tentatively after the birth of her sons and a knee injury left her looking for a less high-impact form of exercise. It was love at first pose as Charlotte saw how quickly yoga sped her rehabilitation along. She also found that yogic relaxation techniques lent her proper focus, bringing balance into her life as well as a greater appreciation for how blessed she truly is. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband and twin boys, Charlie and Patty, who keep her on her feet and on the go. Her golden retriever supervises Charlotte’s yoga workouts from a spare mat, with his eyes closed.