June 01, 2022 0 Comments
Being healthy on the outside is undoubtedly connected to how healthy we are on the inside. But it can be a real challenge to know what the right diet for us looks like. Understandably, many people are turning away from just about anything that might be irritating to their system these days.
Whole grains are one of those foods that fall into and out of favor every few years it seems. As more and more people have discovered that gluten doesn’t agree with them, wheat and other grains that contain gluten have become less and less popular.
But whole grains are packed with nutrients that we might miss out on if we avoid them completely. Fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants and trace minerals can all be found in whole grains. Plus, as plant-based diets are on the rise, good quality protein isn’t as easy to come by. Many whole grains are also excellent sources of protein.
Luckily, you can now have your grains and eat them too. If you look beyond wheat, you’ll find there’s practically a whole-grain revolution going on out there. This is a good thing, because we have more options than ever to take advantage of their health benefits while avoiding the potential problems of gluten.
The following list of gluten-free grains hopefully gives you some new ideas to jazz up your diet and boost your nutrition.
(The first four grains contain all 9 essential amino acids, making them complete proteins. The last three would need to be paired with other foods to be complete.)
Pronounced “keen-wah,” this seed of the Chenopodium quinoa plant is called a grain because of its nutrients and how it’s normally eaten. It originated from South America, and the Incas thought it to be sacred. There’s red, black and white versions and they each have different nutrient profiles, but white is the most common. It’s naturally free of gluten and makes a great addition to a plant-based diet. It contains all 9 essential amino acids and is high is certain ones that most other plants are low in, like lysine, methionine, and cysteine. There are about 8 grams of protein per cup.
This earthy tasting ancient grain comes mainly from Central and South America. It’s also technically a seed but its similarity to cereal grains puts it in the grain category. It’s part of the family that includes beets, chard and spinach. Amaranth grain is smaller than quinoa, but with a more distinct flavor, and is a complete protein (like quinoa). Most often it’s turned into flour and used in gluten-free baking. It’s another good source of lysine, which many plant foods are lacking. Amaranth provides about 9 grams of protein per cup.
Buckwheat is another “pseudocereal grain” that’s really a seed. Despite its name, it is not related to wheat and is gluten free. It’s native to Asia, but buckwheat is now mainly grown in Russia, China, and the northern U.S. You may have seen it mostly as buckwheat pancakes (delicious!) and in Japanese soba noodles made from buckwheat flour. It’s a relative of rhubarb. Buckwheat is a complete protein and provides about 6 grams of protein per cup.
This ancient grain comes from a type of grass that originated in Ethiopia and Eritrea. If you’ve ever eaten Ethiopian cuisine, the bread used is called “injera” and is made from teff flour. It’s commonly made as a porridge or used as a flour in gluten-free baking. The flour is a bit denser than wheat flour and it adds a sweet and nutty taste to recipes. Teff is not a complete protein and has about 22 grams in one cup.
Sorghum is an ancient grain that comes from northeastern Africa and is a cereal grain from the grass family. It’s the fifth most produced crop in the world and isn’t only used as a human food source but also as livestock feed and as a natural fuel. It can be eaten like a porridge, but more often it’s used as flour in gluten-free baking. It doesn’t contain enough lysine to be considered a complete protein and has about 21 grams in one cup.
Oats are a type of cereal grain from the grass family. They’re actually more common as livestock feed, but oatmeal is a popular breakfast favorite. Oats have been touted for many health benefits, especially heart health, and they’re highly versatile. They’re gluten free, though sometimes are processed in facilities that also process other foods that have gluten, so you might want to look for fully gluten-free versions. They can be prepared in savory and in sweet dishes and aren’t just for breakfast anymore. They come rolled or steel cut, which has a bit more fiber. One cup has about 12 grams of protein, but it’s not complete because it’s low in lysine.
Millet is also a cereal grain from the grass family. Widely used in Africa and Asia, but it’s gaining popularity in the West because of its nutrients and gluten-free status. It can be eaten in place of rice in many dishes or used as a flour for gluten-free baking. Millet has a mild flavor that easily takes on other flavors. There are major and minor varieties, but the pearl millet is the main type we eat. It’s not a complete protein but has about 13 grams per cup.
If you’re sticking to a gluten-free diet or are just tired of rice, hopefully this list will expand your horizons and give you some new grains to try. If you’re on a plant-based diet, you can use this list to help you boost your protein intake. Either way, now you know you can enjoy all the benefits that whole grains provide without compromising your health or your values. Happy gluten-free grain eating!
Don't forget to check out our gluten-free products too!
June 22, 2022 0 Comments
June 15, 2022 0 Comments