Super-Simple Supper Pseudos
In our last column, we talked about how gluten free doesn’t always equal healthy. A healthier diet is not about what you limit as much as it is about what you try to incorporate more of.
Incorporating more produce into your meals is the obvious first step toward a more wholesome menu. Fresh fruit also delivers extra vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. And plant-based fats, like those in avocados, nuts, and seeds, provide excellent health benefits.
But we often get stuck when it comes to starchy supper sides. A pot of pasta or white rice are so easy and quick! But so are squashes, sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables, which take minimal prep and offer much more nutritional value. Beans can also help round out a meal as a great source of carbs and a boost of protein. Wholegrain wheat, spelt, oat, barley, or rice products might work for you too.
And now let’s talk about pseudo-grains.
Pseudo-grains are plant-based grain-like seeds that are cooked in whole-seed form so that you derive all their nutritional benefits. They contain protein and fiber along with moderate levels of carbohydrates, making them more easily metabolized with a lower impact on blood sugar. They’re filling, versatile, and so easy to prepare.
My favorite pseudo-grains are quinoa, millet, and kasha, also known as buckwheat. Amaranth is another pseudo-grain that I haven’t had much success with (read: my family didn’t go for it), but feel free to try it out and see if you like it.
› Quinoa was discovered by the frum market about ten years ago. Recipes are all over the place. It’s high in protein, fi ber, vitamin B, and magnesium, among others. For years, though, I just couldn’t get used to the taste of quinoa, no matter how I made it. Then I tried multi-color quinoa, a combination of white, red, and brown quinoa.
Somehow it tastes much better than any one color on its own! Another quinoa tip: Make sure to rinse it first to get rid of that bitter taste, or use a brand that’s pre-rinsed.
› If you like the idea of quinoa but not the taste, you might really like millet. Millet works the same way as quinoa does in many recipes, so just use your favorite quinoa recipe and make the swap. It looks sort of like couscous and has a mildly sweet taste that many people enjoy. It’s high in protein, fi ber, B vitamins, manganese, and other nutrients.
› Kasha (aka buckwheat) is possibly the most nutrient rich of all the pseudo-grains and metabolizes most similarly to a vegetable. It contains substantial amounts of protein and fi ber, plus nutrients like niacin, calcium, and potassium. It’s actually not related to wheat at all! Kasha is sold in different levels of coarseness. It can be enjoyed in hot cereal or mu ns, as a salad topper, or as a dinner side.
Set and Forget
Trying something new isn’t scary when you know what you’re doing. I prepare pseudo-grains exactly the same way I would cook any grain: baked in the oven. Years ago, a friend taught me how, and I was instantly hooked. I simply combine two parts water with one part of my grain of choice in a baking pan, add two teaspoons of oil and salt to taste, cover tightly, and bake for 45 minutes at 375°F (190°C). I then remove the pan from the oven and let it cool, covered, for at least a half hour. Once cool, I toss it and season as desired.
Wishing you the best of health,
Quinoa Flakes and Cream of Buckwheat
These are great hot cereal and/or baking options for those who don’t tolerate oats that well, and either one can be used in this week’s recipe! Quinoa flakes are quinoa kernels that are fl attened and somewhat puffed. Their taste is somewhat bitter, just like standard quinoa, so I don’t love them on their own as a hot cereal, but they work well in baking in place of oats. My brand of choice is Ancient Harvest (Star-K certifi ed).
Cream of buckwheat is a more commonly known product made by a few manufacturers. My favorite brand is Grain Brain (sold mostly in the New York area) because it’s ground the finest and is the best for baking. Wolff’s (sold nationally) is a little coarser, making it excellent for hot cereal — instructions are on the back of the box. It also works for the muffins featured here, although they’ll be more dense.
(Originally featured in Family Table, Issue 699)
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