Despite what its name suggests, buckwheat is not related to wheat. (And though it seems counter-intutitive, it’s gluten-free.) Not a grass like regular wheat, buckwheat is more closely related to rhubarb.
Buckwheat is a nutritional powerhouse that is a central component of Eastern European cuisine. Those who have used buckwheat flour probably recall a certain bitterness. Buckwheat groats are the hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant, and their taste is quite mild. In contrast, the flour is ground from the seed hulls. Buckwheat groats look and taste a lot like steel cut oats, but the softer seeds can be enjoyed raw. When roasted, they take on a delightful, more intense flavor.
Typically, I use groats in their raw form for a breakfast recipe (that I will soon share) similar to overnight oats. Groats can be cooked like rice for salads and side dishes or–if you’re feeling industrious–ground into fresh flour. I like buckwheat groats as an option to steel cut oats or millet breakfast porridge. For extra texture and crunch, raw or roasted groats can be sprinkled over anything from salads to chili to your regular stovetop oatmeal or cold cereal.
With a cook time of 8-10 minutes, groats are perfect served pilaf-style as a quick-and-easy side dish at dinner. Because they contain all the essential amino acids, these grain-like seeds are considered a complete protein. Groats are also high in iron, zinc and selenium.
Try this for several healthy and hearty prep-ahead breakfasts: Cook 1 cup of buckwheat groats in 2 cups of simmering water for 10-12 minutes (covered) or until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and transfer the cooked groats into four separate bowls. To each bowl add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Cover and refrigerate. In the morning, uncover one bowl and add 1/4 cup almond milk (or milk of choice) and gently heat (you may use the microwave or transfer to a pot and heat on the stovetop). Add another glug of milk to reach desired consistency, fresh or dried fruit and nuts of choice, a drizzle of maple syrup and enjoy!
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