What is Buckwheat?
Buckwheat, which is commonly found in raw food diet recipes, has a slightly deceptive name that can easily cause confusion. Buckwheat is not wheat, nor is it related to wheat. It is not a grain nor a cereal and is gluten-free. So where does it come from? Buckwheat is derived from the seeds of a flowering plant.
Culinary Uses of Buckwheat
The triangular seeds, known as buckwheat groats, are frequently made into flour for use in noodles, crepes, and many gluten-free products on the market these days. For those practicing a raw food diet, raw buckwheat groats can be found in many recipes for things like granola, cookies, cakes, crackers, and other bread-like products. Buckwheat is a good binding agent and, when soaked, becomes very gelatinous. Soaking, rinsing, and re-drying the groats produces a crunchy buckwheat crispy that is nice as well.
Raw Buckwheat and Kasha
Toasted buckwheat is used to make traditional dishes in several different cultures. Generally toasted buckwheat is referred to as kasha. If you are looking for raw buckwheat groats, you'll want to avoid kasha. You can always tell by the color and the aroma. Kasha is a much darker reddish-brown color and has a strong nutty, toasted scent to it. Raw buckwheat groats are light brown or green and don't have much of an aroma at all.
Nutritional Benefits of Buckwheat
Interestingly, buckwheat is currently being studied for its nutritional benefits. It is used to relieve some of the symptoms of Type II diabetes as well as high blood pressure. Buckwheat contains rutin, known to strengthen capillary walls.