You may find it in breakfast cereals, breads, and even pancakes, but if you think buckwheat is a type of wheat or other grain, think again. Buckwheat is actually the fruit of a plant related to sorrel and rhubarb. The good news about buckwheat is that it’s a rich source of all nine essential amino acids — important molecules that help repair tissue and build cells — and it’s gluten free if you choose a product that’s labeled 100% buckwheat. You can enjoy cooking with buckwheat starting on Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet and the South Beach Diet Gluten Solution.
You can find buckwheat in health-food stores either as whole groats (raw kernels with the shells removed), flour (the darker the flour, the more fiber it contains), or kasha (roasted groats in coarse, medium, or fine granulations). You may also be able to find kasha in the pasta aisle of your local supermarket.
Store loose buckwheat in an airtight covered jar or a resealable plastic bag in a cool, dry place, or in the refrigerator or freezer if you live in a warm climate. Buckwheat flour, however, should always be stored in the refrigerator. Buckwheat will keep for about a year, and the flour will last for a couple of months if stored properly.
Cooking with Buckwheat
You can cook kasha and whole buckwheat as you would rice and serve it as a side dish with meat, poultry, or fish dishes. Or combine it with a little sautéed chopped onion and fresh herbs and use as a stuffing for cabbage, bell peppers, or eggplant. Additionally, buckwheat makes a great component for a stuffing for chicken or Cornish game hens. You can also combine buckwheat flour with other gluten-free flours like teff flour and coconut flour, or with whole-wheat flour, to make tasty pancakes or waffles.