Armed with only a sheet pan, a hot oven, and a few accompaniments, you can transform a pound of green beans into a savory delight.
Cooking Kasha or Buckwheat Groats
Dietary Compliance: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Almost-Paleo, Plant-based, Vegetarian, Vegan
Move over quinoa. We have a new crush on a gluten-free grain substitute that blows you out of the water– nutritionally speaking. Allow us to introduce you to kasha (not Kashi), or whole toasted buckwheat, also known as buckwheat groats.
Buckwheat is not a grain, but rather the seed of a plant related to rhubarb. Buckwheat is gluten-free, and boasts some unique nutritional factors, including resistant fiber, bioflavonoids, tannins, and bound antioxidants.
Buckwheat flour can be used as a gluten-free substitute for pancakes and waffles, and may also be found in Japanese buckwheat soba noodles. The focus of this post is on whole buckwheat. By the end of this post, you’ll know how to cook, purchase, and store whole buckwheat, and why you may want to consider making it a part of your thyroid-loving repertoire.
The Difference Between Kasha and Raw Buckwheat Groats
Before you head off to the bulk-food section, there’s some knowledge you need to take with you. Both kasha and raw buckwheat groats are simply whole buckwheat grains. The difference is that kasha is toasted, and raw buckwheat groats are not. For more toothsome, fluffy, individual grains I recommend purchasing raw buckwheat groats, and toasting them at home. (In my experience pre-toasted kasha tends to disintegrate quickly.)
Toasting your buckwheat groats is also important because it affects cooking time – toasted groats cook in half the time as their raw counterparts. I suspect that’s why I’ve had some disappointing experiences with store-bought pre-toasted kasha.
Here’s my theory on that: When toasted in large batches at a factory, some of the kernels become well-toasted, bursting shortly after they begin to cook, and dissolving into a grainy porridge. Other kernels in the batch are less toasted and remain firm long after the others have turned to paste. I’ve found that toasting your own in small batches ensures even toasting, and therefore, even cooking.
Buying & Storing Buckwheat Groats
Groats are found in the bulk section of many grocery stores. Bob’s Red Mill also sells raw buckwheat groats and kasha by the bag.
Make sure you purchase buckwheat groats, as the term ‘groats’ is also used to describe whole-grain oats or other types of grain in whole form.
When storing buckwheat groats, the pantry’s okay, but stash them in the fridge or freezer if you want to extend their shelf life.
Here’s some info about the thyroid-friendly nutrients in this dish:
- A cup of kasha or buckwheat groats has 4.5 grams of fiber, which can help relieve constipation sometimes associated with thyroid conditions.
- Kasha or buckwheat groats provide 7% RDI of Tyrosine, an essential amino acid important to the production of thyroid hormone.
- Kasha or buckwheat groats contain 7% DV of Zinc, which helps boost the immune system.
- Buckwheat groats have a very low glycemic load, scoring 14 out of 250, making this a good choice for weight loss.
For more information on the unique nutritional properties of buckwheat, and how it can be part of your thyroid-friendly diet (w/ recipes), we recommend this article from Dr. Alan Christianson.
Toasted Buckwheat Groats (aka Kasha)
This gluten-free seed is nutty, toothsome, and an ultra-nutritious grain alternative. Dietary Compliance: Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Almost-Paleo, Plant-based, Vegetarian, Vegan
- 1 cup raw buckwheat groats
- 2 cup water
- Toast raw buckwheat groats in a dry, high-sided skillet over medium to medium-high heat, 5-10 minutes or until browned and fragrant.
- Add water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 - 20 minutes, covered, or until grains are al dente (check often).
- Drain off extra liquid and serve.