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The Whole Family

Warm Up with Buckwheat
by Cathe Olson

With colder weather on the way, you may be looking for warming foods to stave off that winter chill. Why not try buckwheat? It's an excellent winter food because it aids circulation and is warming to the body.

Buckwheat is nutritious as well. It's a good source of protein and is especially high in the amino acid lysine. Buckwheat is also extremely high in calcium and a good source of B-complex and E vitamins.

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Don't worry if you're on a wheat free diet. Buckwheat is not related at all to wheat - and it's gluten free. In fact, it's not even a grain. Buckwheat is actually a fruit, but is usually classified as a grain because it's prepared and eaten like one. Buckwheat groats can be toasted and cooked with water to make kasha. Buckwheat flour is a delicious addition to pancake and bread batters but because it is very heavy, it is best to combine it with other grains. Japanese soba noodles are also made from buckwheat.

Here are a few recipes to get you started with buckwheat.

Crunchy Buckwheat Cereal
Here's a cold breakfast cereal you can feel good about. It is easy to make in advance and will keep in your refrigerator for days. It's delicious sprinkled over fruit, too.
  • 2 cups raw whole buckwheat groats
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or agave nectar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup nut or seed butter (almond butter, tahini, etc.)
Preheat oven to 300║F. Spread buckwheat on large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir buckwheat around a bit. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes more until golden. Immediately mix hot buckwheat with sweetener and nut or seed butter until buckwheat is coated. Cool. Store in covered jar in refrigerator. To serve, place 1/2 cup of cereal in bowl, cover with milk. Add fresh or dried fruit if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Basic Kasha
Buckwheat is a hearty and warming grain, making it ideal for damp, cold days. Never rinse buckwheat because it will become sticky.
  • 1 1/2 cups whole buckwheat groats
  • 3 cups boiling water or vegetable stock
Place buckwheat groats in pot. Toast about 5 minutes over medium heat until golden and aromatic. Pour boiling water over buckwheat. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed.

Makes 6 servings

Kasha, Potato, and Carrot Casserole with Mushroom Gravy
  • 1 cup raw whole buckwheat groats
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme, or 3/4 teaspoon dried
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350║F. Oil a 2-quart casserole dish. Toast buckwheat in dry skillet until golden. Pour into casserole dish. Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and sautÚ 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and carrots. SautÚ 5 minutes. Pour vegetables into casserole dish. Sprinkle salt and pepper over vegetables. Pour boiling water into dish. Cover and bake 30 minutes or until water is absorbed and potatoes are tender. Fluff with fork. Sprinkle parsley over top.

Makes 6 servings

Mushroom Gravy
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon or vegetarian chicken-flavored bouillon
  • 1 1/2 cups potato cooking water or water
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Heat oil in saucepan. Stir in onion, mushrooms, and garlic. SautÚ 10 minutes over medium-low heat until mushrooms are juicy and onion is soft. Stir in nutritional yeast and flour until mushrooms are coated. Add bouillon and liquid. Bring to boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until gravy thickens (about 10 minutes). Season to taste.

Makes 2 cups

Recipes from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook copyright 2005 by Cathe Olson.

Sources:
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Resource for Healthy Eating, by Rebecca Wood. Penguin, 1999.

Nutrition Almanac - Fifth Edition, by Lavon J. Dunne. (McGraw-Hill, 2002.)

Whole Foods Companion - Revised and Expanded Edition by Dianne Onstad. (Chelsea Green Publishing Company, 2004.)

VegFamily Resources: Visit the VegFamily Shopping Guide for vegan-friendly products and companies that support VegFamily.

Cathe Olson is the author of the new nondairy ice cream cookbook: Lick It! Cream Dreamy Vegan Ice Cream Your Mouth Will Love, as well as Simply Natural Baby Food and The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook. Visit Cathe's website at www.simplynaturalbooks.com and her blog at http://catheolson.blogspot.com.
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