The Benefits of Buckwheat

Buckwheat

With a name like buckwheat it’s hard not to think that this product is related to wheat. But in truth,  it has no relation at all. Buckwheat is actually a fruit seed, who’s closest relative is rhubarb and sorrel….who would have thought? Lately we have been making buckwheat pancakes,  and just kind of assumed that they were healthier than regular wheat pancakes. Until we did some research, we didn’t realize how beneficial this food really is. There really are quite a few benefits of buckwheat but I’m just going to list several that stood out for me.

It’s gluten free! There is so much hype lately about benefits of going gluten free. Both of us tried going gluten free and discovered that, for us, the hype was true. We both felt lighter, healthier, less bloated, and just overall better.  So in our search to find healthier gluten free alternatives (especially for pancakes) buckwheat is king. There are many ways to incorporate it into your diet, but our favorite option is in pancake form!

Low glycemic index. Recent studies have shown that buckwheat may aid in helping manage diabetes. After reading the book “Wheat Belly” I was blown away to find out that a couple pieces of wheat bread can spike your blood sugar as much, or more than a snickers bar!? Buckwheat has a low GI and is a better alternative to bring those blood sugar levels down to normal.

Mood enhancer. Buckwheat contains tryptophan, which has been shown to improve your mood. Thus, making you a little bit happier. Who doesn’t want to eat something that is not also healthy but can lift your spirits as well!?

Its Chemical free!! Buckwheat grows so fast that farmers don’t have to use pesticides or herbicides. It can grow in very poor soil while also enhancing the soil quality.

Buckwheat sounds like a win win option for everyone, not just individuals who are trying to lead a gluten free lifestyle.

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AMAZING Oatmeal Raisin Gluten Free, Vegan Cookies!!

So I think you all have read about our Epic fail making chocolate chip cookies with coconut flour. It was truly a disaster and depressing because our sweet tooth was left unsatisfied that night. It made us wonder if we could have yummy baked goods while avoiding gluten. Then I found the recipe for these AMAZING cookies! The dough is good, the cookies are fantastic and you don’t feel sick after eating them like you do with regular cookies.

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Yum! I was very happy with this plate of cookies.

This recipe was adapted only slightly from here. I basically only switched the flours and combined a couple of the steps.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 C toasted walnuts (if you don’t know how to toast walnuts you can google it)
2 cups regular oats divided in half
3/4 cup Gluten free all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. (not quite full) guar gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of maple syrup
2 tbsp almond milk or soy or rice
3 1/2 tbsp coconut oil (warmed so it’s in liquid form)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. After toasting the walnuts combine them in a food processor along with 1 cup of the oats, flour, guar gum, baking soda, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Give that processor a whirl until everything looks like a meal. If you only have a small food processor you can do the walnuts and oats and then add them to the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl warm the coconut oil (in a microwave or on the stove) until it is liquified and add this to the maple syrup, almond milk, and vanilla extract. Then, mix both the wet and the dry ingredients together in the processor, add them to a separate bowl and add in the remaining cup of whole oats and raisins. Mix by hand and then place spoonfuls of the dough on parchment papered cookie sheets. Feel free to eat the dough as you work. We found that eating this cookie dough didn’t make us feel sick the way traditional cookie dough does and I’d like to adapt this recipe into a raw cookie recipe at some point because the dough really is delicious. Also, I know…parchment paper is wasteful. I’d like to get some silicone sheets at some point. If you don’t have or want to use parchment paper, you could just oil the sheets prior as well. Bake at 350F for approx 10-12 minutes (10 if you like them on the chewier side and 12 if you want them a little browner/toasty on the outside). Enjoy!

Pics of the Process. Seriously try these. You won't be disappointed!

Pics of the Process. Seriously try these. You won’t be disappointed!

The end result is something like THIS:

Matt was a very happy camper.

Matt was a very happy camper.

As two self-proclaimed foodies with an overactive sweet tooth, we can say that these cookies are as good as any oatmeal raisin recipe we’ve tried. You won’t miss the egg, butter, or gluten. I promise.

A Lesson in Gluten Free Baking

All-Purpose Flour

Okay so we had an EPIC FAIL baking cookies the other night. Being the newbies that we are to the gluten free lifestyle we thought you could just substitute a gluten free flour for wheat flour. Not the case. We tried substituting coconut flour for regular flour in our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and ended up with crumbly, dry cookies that were not delicious. Flavor in a meal is connected to the smell, taste, texture and appearance and these cookies just fell apart.

So the other day we were staring at the flour aisle in Whole Foods wondering what the hell we were doing when I glanced over at a woman picking up a variety of flours. Figuring she had to know more about this whole process than us we asked her if she had any tips for buying flour and for gluten free baking. She directed us to all-purpose gluten free flour (pictured above) and kindly informed us that gluten free baking works best if you mix the flours. Luckily Red Mills sells this bag that already has a variety of flours combined for you. Also, you need to add a binding agent to gluten free flour xantham gum or guar gum work well. We chose the later, it being the least expensive. The bag provides directions but basically you need to use 1/4 teaspoon of the binding agent to every 1 cup of gluten free flour that you use.

Guar GumWe found a WONDERFUL vegan, gluten free oatmeal raisin cookie recipe on the web and armed with our new knowledge of these products we made some AMAZING cookies. We will post the full recipe at a later date.

This brings me to one more tip. Talk to people. We have been using this technique at the grocery store for the past week. Hang out at the aisle that confuses you (for us it was the flour aisle) and when someone comes by that looks like they know what they are doing, ask them for advice. Most people are happy to help and often you can benefit from their experience. Chances are these people have had a lot of successes and failures and can tell you about them to save you the trouble of making the same mistakes they have.