Healthy Grain Alternatives

buckwheat-photo

Lately many people are avoiding or reducing the amount of wheat or wheat-products they consume.  Rice, potatoes and corn are frequently the top three foods heading the "instead of" list, but there are actually a variety of other tasty and nutritious grain alternatives out there.  Here are just a few:

Buckwheat -- Though its name sounds like a grain, buckwheat is actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel.  Favored in Eastern Europe for use in meat and winter root dishes, it has a nutty flavor.  Many stores carry buckwheat flour or you can buy whole-grain buckwheat groats, known as kasha.

Millet -- An important food staple for many cultures throughout history, much of the world's millet is grown in India.  In its whole state it can be used in place of couscous in many recipes; ground, it serves as a substitute for rice flour.  Dry skillet toast before cooking to enhance millet's mild, nutty flavor.

Quinoa -- Protein-rich with lots of vitamins and minerals, quinoa has been called a "supergrain".  It is available in a variety of forms, including quinoa pasta, quinoa flour and whole-grain quinoa.  In its whole-grain form it should be rinsed before using to eliminate a coating called saponin, which can cause a bitter taste.

Amaranth -- This grain a relative of pigweed, and also high in both fiber and protein.  Less well known than the other wheat-free alternative grains, it is most commonly available as flour.

Many grains are delicious in both hot and cold dishes, and grain recipe sites abound on Google.  If your local grocer or the big chain markets don't carry some of the wheat alternatives listed above, they may also be found at area health food stores, specialty grocers or online.

Article by Kim Washetas, contributing writer and enthusiastic whole health advocate.