This may seem like a bold demand, but I have my reasons for believing this. The gluten-free flour you need to have in your pantry is buckwheat! It may be the most perfectly crafted flour for when you have to kick “king wheat” to the curb. Personally, I use buckwheat flour in everything and my pantry is never without. Funny thing about buckwheat is that it seems to scare some people, as it carries the word “wheat” in it’s name. No need for alarm my gluten-free friends! Buckwheat has no relation to wheat, nor is it a grass or cereal grain. It’s actually a pesudograin just like quinoa. Buckwheat is a fruit seed (yea, I know!) and is in the same family with rhubarb and sorrel.
Buckwheat is really great not only for Celiacs, but also for anyone with grain issues. Because it’s a fruit seed, it doesn’t have the same types of proteins that cereal grains do. It’s very light and easy to digest in the body. It’s also a resistant starch which is very beneficial to the colon and overall gut health. The buckwheat seed is what we eat, either whole as the triangular shaped (pyramid) groat you see in buckwheat dishes, which, when toasted is called Kasha (it has a much nuttier almost smoky taste). The actually buckwheat flower that is grown from the seed is a pretty white flower (that can also be yellow or pink!), that when pollonated, makes a beautiful honey. To make buckwheat flour, the seeds are just ground like any other flour, which makes it easy to make your on too!
Buckwheat also carries some amazing health benefits. It has the highest levels of Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, and Zinc than other cereal grains. It also has high levels of Potassium which is good for the blood and cell tissues and is loaded with soluble fiber. All of these elements also contribute to good immune and neurological function. Buckwheat also has a stellar protein profile and balanced amino acid score, making it an ideal plant-based protein option. It’s the “grain” that has rutin, which is shown to improve circulation and prevent LDL build-up. To sum up, buckwheat is amazing for cardiovascular health, preventing heart disease and diabetes, blood sugar control, and it even prevents gallstones! That’s on special seed.
Now for why I think buckwheat flour is a must in your gluten-free pantry. First, buckwheat flour has such a light beautiful super soft texture. The color is an “earthy” grey/tan and gives baked goods a darker toasted brown color. The taste is also very earthy and strong, yet delicate and distinctive. Once you know what buckwheat flour tastes like, you will always be able to identify it’s presence. Time and again, when I am developing a baking recipe, my go-to flour is always buckwheat. It has always worked for me without even having to combine it with other gluten-free flours to create a complete “profile”. In larger baking project I usually do combine it with some all-purpose, but for smaller things, pancakes, mugcakes, muffins, it wouldn’t be a gamble if I only used buckwheat. It’s really the perfect replacement for wheat flour and has more health benefits than rice flours or heavier “all-purpose” gluten-free grain flours. It isn’t as tricky to work with like nut, coconut, or other grain flours like amaranth, quinoa, teff, and millet which work best in combinations and smaller amounts. Just make sure you include baking power in your buckwheat baked goods and your good to go! I use 1/2 tsp of baking powder per 1/2 cup buckwheat flour.
Besides being an amazing flour, buckwheat is a wonderful gluten-free “grain” option, boiled in a pot like rice or quinoa. When toasted and make into kasha, the flavor is even better! Of course it can also be “steel-cut” to mimic oatmeal and this makes it the wonderful creamy hot cereal which I love. Buckwheat is also a popular soba noodle variety for us gluten-free eaters. However you decide to add buckwheat to your diet, you’ll be pleased with this seed 100%! If at first the strong earthy flavor seems strong for your palate, it will grow on you! Try different recipes, varieties, and amounts of flour in baking!