When trying to be healthier and eat a wholesome diet, you may be discouraged with so many things that you aren’t supposed to eat. In reality, you just need to expand your culinary horizons. Simple ingredients can make delicious dishes. There are literally thousands of edible plants that are great for our bodies. Take buckwheat, for instance.

Buckwheat is actually not wheat at all. It’s not even a grain. It’s a fruit seed! And… here comes the buzz-word, it’s gluten free! Buckwheat is related to rhubarb and sorrel (herb). It’s high in magnesium, which is a mineral most of us need more of. Magnesium is an essential component of bone health, among other functions like the synthesis of DNA and RNA, muscle and nerve function and controlling blood sugar. Buckwheat is low on the glycemic index, which is why it is helpful for those trying to combat type II diabetes. It’s helpful for controlling high blood pressure as well. It contains the amino acids lysine and arginine (protein) but does not contain the often dreaded gluten, so it is safe for those with intolerances or those just trying to avoid gluten for their digestive health.

You can find buckwheat pancakes on some restaurant menus so, keep your eyes peeled. When you get tired of quinoa, give buckwheat a try. It can be added to soups or salads to give it more body, or it can be served as side dish alongside other vegetables or meat.

Many Asian dishes make use of soba noodles, which are noodles made with buckwheat flour. Remember to read the ingredients on the package you buy, sometimes they throw regular wheat flour in there and then they wouldn’t be gluten free anymore. I’ve made this recipe for a delicious Soba Noodle Bowl with a few substitutions and it is really delicious. Instead of the vegan butter, sub coconut oil, and I didn’t have mirin (rice wine vinegar) so I used apple cider vinegar and it came out just great.

Another recipe I have tested is this Buckwheat Risotto that you should try when you want something decadent. I used regular goat cheese instead of searching for the curds. I also used regular non-dried shitake mushrooms and it was truly amazing. It is a bit time consuming, so save it for a special occasion. Manchego cheese is typically sheep’s milk cheese, so even though this dish is cheesey, it is still free of cow dairy.

You can make granola like this one: Buckwheat Granola or try this Buckwheat Harvest Tart and here’s a cookie recipe using buckwheat flour that’s sure to be a hit: Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Variety is the spice of life, and that doesn’t have to change when you are eating healthy. You DO NOT have to eat chicken, brown rice, and broccoli EVERY DAY to see results. Have some freedom, get creative and enjoy what you put in your mouth.

*Article by Ashley Dance