Bright Ideas: Buckwheat for Breakfast

October 26, 2009

By Jo Cooper

Are you in the market for a delicious, nutrient-packed breakfast suggestion? Here’s one: cream of buckwheat.

The name comes from the Dutch word bockweit, which refers to both the way the seeds resemble those of beech trees and the way the flour resembles wheat flour. But it’s neither cereal grain nor wheat; it’s a fruit seed of the buckwheat plant, fagopyrum esculentum. And here’s some exceptionally good news: it’s both wheat and gluten-free, a great alternative for the gluten-sensitive, or those seeking wider variety.

Health benefits? It contains rutin and quercitin, two flavonoids with significant health-promoting actions. It’s a good source of magnesium, manganese, fiber, phosphorus, pantothenic acid and very high quality protein– containing all 8 essential amino acids. Studies have shown links to a lowered risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. (Source of information: Michael Murray & Joe Pizzorno’s invaluable book The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.)

Buckwheat has a pleasantly nutty flavor. The flour can be finessed into crepes as the French do, or used as the Japanese do to craft soba noodles. If you are avoiding gluten, check the package and be sure wheat flour hasn’t been added– “buckwheat” noodles are often a mix of the two.

But back to my delicious breakfast. Pictured is cream of buckwheat, cooked in under 10 minutes, and topped with almond milk, frozen wild blueberries and a splash of grade B maple syrup. Quick, warm, yummy, and packed with antioxidants, protein and all the goodness described above. I would have added nuts, but am recovering from dental surgery. Don’t ask. Still, this breakfast is top notch, and I recommend you try it.

What are your favorite healthy breakfasts?