This delicious, nutritious protein-packed pseudocereal is becoming trendy, and for good reason.
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buckwheat groats in a bowl
Credit: Getty/Michelle Arnold/EyeEm

In the world of superfoods, buckwheat is a powerhouse. Packed with plant protein and fiber, and rich in magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, niacin, zinc, folate, and vitamin B6, it has more antioxidants than cereal grains including barley, wheat, oats, and rye. In spite of its name, buckwheat contains no wheat whatsoever. It's a fruit seed related to sorrel and rhubarb. Like amaranth and quinoa, it's known as a pseudocereal—grain-like seeds that don't grow on grasses. What's more, it's sustainable and naturally gluten-free.

For all of those reasons, it's no wonder that buckwheat is having a moment. A very long moment, at that, with no end in sight!

From Pancakes to Noodles

In addition to being supremely healthy, buckwheat is incredibly versatile, showing up in breakfast foods, snacks, beverages, and more. Ground into flour, it's used in pasta, pancakes, crepe-like pancakes called blini, and baked goods, with other flours, usually added to lighten up its dense, slightly nutty taste. It also stands on its own as roasted buckwheat groats (better known as kasha), an Eastern European side dish enlivened with mushrooms and onions or cooked as porridge, a favorite of 19th-century tsars (that can also be made from barley, millet, oats, semolina, or rice). "Kasha is likely the most popular way to consume buckwheat worldwide—I'm pretty sure it's a national dish in Russia," says Emily Griffith, CEO, and founder of the innovative buckwheat-based company Lil Bucks. "Buckwheat is also used to make soba noodles and is very popular in China and Japan. The Japanese also enjoy buckwheat tea. And the hulls of buckwheat are used to make very popular buckwheat pillows."

As for Lil Bucks, it specializes in organic sprouted buckwheat seeds, available in four varieties: matcha, cacao, and cinnamon, with a hint of maple syrup, or the original, which is, well, buck naked, with no spices or sweeteners at all ($6.99, amazon.com). The seeds can be eaten as a cereal (say, an alternative to granola) or as a crunchy topper on yogurt, salads, oatmeal, avocado toast, and smoothies. Its sister product, adaptogenic buckwheat clusters called Clusterbucks, a raw, paleo-friendly snack, comes in turmeric lemon myrtle or chocolate reishi flavors ($17.99 for two, amazon.com).

Buckwheat Nirvana

Buckwheat has to be cooked or sprouted, Griffith explains, or you miss out on its nutrients. "If you eat raw buckwheat that's not sprouted, your body won't absorb all the protein, fiber, and minerals properly," she says. Lil Bucks' sprouted buckwheat is also dehydrated, resulting in buckwheat in its most bioavailable form. "It's sprouted so our bodies can absorb the nutrients, but then dehydrated to preserve the antioxidants (ten times more than quinoa) to serve buckwheat in its most delicious format." And, of course, it's crunchy, which Griffith believes is the buckwheat jackpot.

Griffith first encountered those crunchy sprouted buckwheat seeds sprinkled over an acai bowl in Sydney, Australia, and she was blown away. "Enjoying that buckwheat-topped acai bowl was an electric moment for me," she says. Inspired by the Australian lifestyle and culture, and by how fantastic she felt after eating sprouted buckwheat seeds, she was intent on spreading the word. More than a meal, buckwheat became something of a mission. "It all came together in one moment and I felt determined to bring it back to America and share." Thus, Lil Bucks was born, and with it, yet another incredible way to enjoy buckwheat, a multifaceted plant protein with infinite possibilities.

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