Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a pseudograin, and not from the same family as wheat so is therefore suitable for coeliacs. It’s nutritional value is extensive as any search on google will tell you, but here are just a few

  • Rich in magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese. These minerals help reduce cholesterol and protect our immune system
  • A great source of protein and lysine, an amino acid that helps digestion and is important in plant-based diets
  • Because it’s a seed, it contains flavenoids, plant pigments with phytonutrients that boost vitamin C and act as antioxidants
  • It can help control blood sugar levels because it is high in soluble fibre

Recipes always recommend rinsing the grain thoroughly before cooking, if you are using the groats (‘grains’). This month I have used the buckwheat groats in place of rice, both in a hot savoury dish and in a salad. I also use buckwheat flour often in place of plain wheat flour for baked items such as muffins and banana bread. Buckwheat is the main ingredient of French pancakes (crepes) and I have used it successfully in pancakes myself.

I have also read that it makes good porridge but I have yet to test it! Soba noodles are also made from buckwheat.

Brussels Sprouts

“Brussels sprouts!” I hear you say, “who likes those!” and I felt exactly the same way. Either boiled or steamed I never liked them until …. I tried them roasted. Halved and tossed in a little oil and roasted either on their own or with other root veg and I discovered they were delicious!! Taste for yourselves in the salad dishes this month and then read about their health qualities!

In 75grams of cooked Brussels sprouts you get

  • Calories: 28
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Fibre: 2 grams
  • Vitamin K: 137% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 81% of the RDI
  • Vitamin A: 12% of the RDI
  • Folate: 12% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 9% of the RDI

Brussels sprouts contain kaempferol, an antioxidant that may reduce cancer growth, decrease inflammation and promote heart health. They are high in vitamin K, a nutrient important for blood clotting and bone metabolism, and vitamin c

Brussels sprouts are a good source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation, insulin resistance and cognitive decline

In short, Brussels sprouts are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making them a nutritious addition to your diet.

Give them another try… roasted or raw, thinly sliced as an addition to salad.

Spelt

Spelt is an ancient grain that has been grown in Somerset since the start of the Iron Age. It has a unique gluten structure which makes it easier to digest than modern wheat.

It has a delicious nutty taste, not dissimilar to barley. High in protein and fibre, spelt is a good source of slow release energy. So much so, that the Roman army called it their marching grain.

Spelt in common with other nuts, grains and seeds, contains phytic acid, a unique natural substance which can impair the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium. Soaking the grain for several hours or overnight can reduce phytate content substantially.

According to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, while pearled barley and spelt are “whole” in the sense of not being rolled, broken or ground down, they are not “wholegrains” but refined: the “pearling” that gives them their name is the process of polishing off the outer bran layer. Soaking is not necessary therefore.

Spelt can be used in soups, stews and salads. It also makes a delicious risotto.

Quinoa

Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah was an important, sacred crop for the Incas. There are three main types: white, red and black. This is the nutrient content in 185 grams of cooked quinoa

  • Protein: 8 grams.
  • Fibre: 5 grams.
  • Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 28% of the RDA.
  • Folate: 19% of the RDA.
  • Copper: 18% of the RDA.
  • Iron: 15% of the RDA.
  • Zinc: 13% of the RDA.
  • Potassium 9% of the RDA.
  • Over 10% of the RDA for vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
  • Small amounts of calcium, B3 (niacin) and vitamin E.

This comes with a total of 222 calories, with 39 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat. It also contains a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Quinoa is much higher in fibre than most grains and is naturally gluten-free. Quinoa contains large amounts of flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol – potent plant antioxidants. Quinoa is high in protein compared to most plant foods. It also contains all the essential amino acids that you need, making it an excellent protein source for vegetarians and vegans. The glycaemic index of quinoa is around 53, which is considered low. However, it’s still relatively high in carbs. Quinoa is very high in minerals, but its phytic acid can partly prevent them from being absorbed. Soaking or sprouting degrades most of the phytic acid and increases their antioxidant levels even further.

Easy to cook

  • Put 2 cups (240 ml) of water in a pot, turn up the heat.
  • Add 1 cup (170 grams) of raw quinoa, with a dash of salt.
  • Simmer gently for 15–20 minutes.

It should now have absorbed most of the water and have a fluffy look with a mild, nutty flavour and a satisfying crunch.

Find many healthy and diverse recipes for quinoa online. I have used it to make Tabbouleh instead of the usual bulgur wheat.