I’ve spent countless hours reading about nutrition and how food can heal the body. I’ve dug deep in an effort to unearth ways to reduce inflammation and help heal my gut woes.
I stopped eating grains 2 years ago. I’ve taken out, replaced and substituted. I’ve altered my habits to give my body the best chance possible to heal. I have a ‘listen to my body’ policy that works for me.
But as a mother, as a provider, I have a grain quandary? I’m the food gatherer and cook in my house. I design the menu. My family comes for the ride. I’m strict with my health pursuit but I watch my husband and children go for grains when the meals are not home cooked and I completely get it.
The grain debate is a minefield for me. The health implications for me breaking from my regime can be dire. At times, I can be adamantly opposed to having a single spec of grain in the house! Other times, I appreciate how much easier my life would be if I weren’t quite so rigid.
This is where pseudo grains enter.
Ahh the pleasure it gives my family; buckwheat pancakes, pizza now and then, homemade bread.
It’s as if I were giving them food for the very first time. I can’t deny them and I admit, I love the challenge. For me it’s an opportunity to experiment. For my body, I’m still undecided.
Pseudo grains are the seeds from broad leafed plants, rather than grass. Similarly the seed can be ground into flour or made into cereal. The 3 most common pseudo grains are buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa.
Pseudo grains are more than just carbohydrate! They contain impressive nutrients, especially B vitamins and iron. Disappointingly, however, despite their nutritional profile, they share some of the same anti nutrients and toxins that make regular grains such a problematic food group.
This is where traditional grain preparation techniques come to the rescue.
Pseudo grains can easily be made less harmful by way of fermentation (culturing). It’s a surprisingly simple process. If you activate the enzyme phytase and wash away the nasty toxins, you can have your cake and eat it too. I explain how here.
Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat. It’s not even part of the grass family. It’s actually a fruit seed related to rhubarb. Buckwheat has a relatively high phytase content (the good enzyme that breaks down phytic acid) so it is quickly made digestible. I use it a lot for this reason.
Buckwheat culturing time – 6 hours – then rinse well
Amaranth is an herbaceous plant similar to spinach. The entire plant is edible although it is the seed that is ground into flour. Amaranth seeds have way more protein than most grains and also contain amino acids which are rare in plants. Amaranth is also rich in iron, magnesium and calcium. But watch out for a new toxic nasty called saponins. Like lectin, saponins can damage the lining of your gut! So watch out if you have a leaky gut. Saponins are known to punch holes in sensitive tummies. Read more about saponins here
Amaranth culturing time – 12 hours – then rinse well
Quinoa is a relative of the green leafy vegetables, spinach and chard. It’s a favourite with vegetarians because it is a complete protein that vouches all nine essential amino acids as well as high amounts of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous.
The extraordinary nutritional profile of quinoa makes this little seed hard to ignore but like all grains and grain-like species there is a darker side. Have you tasted badly prepared quinoa? You can taste the saponin. The bitterness is there as a clear warning sign. The required fermentation period is evidence of the potential harm. Soak quinoa and eat with caution.
Quinoa culturing time – 18 hours (for approx 80% reduction in toxins) – then rinse well
Note: You can speed up the Quinoa fermentation process by adding a small amount of a high phytase-containing grain such as buckwheat.
Culturing Pseudo Grains is easy.
Once you establish a routine it really isn’t that much extra work. Traditional grain preparation just requires a bit of organization and forward planning. Feel the difference.