Have you heard of pseudo grains? These are the seeds and grasses we commonly categorize as grains. These superfood seeds are known to be extremely high in protein, fibre and low-glycemic carbohydrates. They are also bursting with vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium. The other incredible feature about these grains is that they are all alkaline-forming and gluten-free, making them accessible to everyone. They are incredibly easy to digest, absorb and assimilate. They make for incredible side dishes, cereals, loaves, muffins and pilafs.
Here are five pseudo grains you should add to your diet:
What it is: Quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.
How to use and store it: Store quinoa in an airtight container. And it will keep for a longer period of time, approximately three to six months, if stored in the refrigerator.
To cook quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. After the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, and cover. One cup of quinoa cooked in this method usually takes 15 minutes to prepare.
Health benefits: It is a complete protein, providing all essential amino acids. It’s also high in fibre, calcium and iron.
What it is: A fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel, buckwheat is a suitable grain substitute for people who are sensitive to wheat or other grains that contain protein glutens.
How to use and store it: Place buckwheat in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place. Buckwheat flour should always be stored in the refrigerator, while other buckwheat products should be kept refrigerated only if you live in a warm climate. After rinsing, add one part buckwheat to two parts boiling water or broth. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- It’s rich in flavonoids and phytonutrients, both of which protect against disease by extending the action of vitamin C, while acting as antioxidants.
- Buckwheat is a great source of protein, manganese and vitamins B and E.
- Buckwheat helps to balance and lower cholesterol levels while also protecting against heart disease.
- Buckwheat has mood enhancing and mental clarity properties.
3. Wild rice
What it is: Wild rice is really an aquatic seed found mostly in the freshwater lakes of Canada, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Cooked wild rice has a rich, nutty flavor, sometimes described as a smoky flavor, and a texture that is satisfyingly chewy. It can be as long as one-inch and the colours can vary from medium-brown to nearly pure black.
How to use and store it: Put the grains into a saucepan with warm water to cover and stir the rice around to allow any particles to float to the top. Skim off the particles and drain the water. It’s best to repeat the rinsing one more time before cooking. Use one cup of dry wild rice to three cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and steam for 45 minutes to one hour.
- It is a source of lysine (an essential protein) and B vitamins.
- It has almost twice the protein content of venerable brown rice.
- It has almost six times the amount of folic acid as brown rice.
What it is: While still growing in the fields, teff appears purple, grey, red or yellowish-brown. Seeds range from dark-reddish-brown to yellowish-brown to ivory.
How to use and store it: Cook teff for about 20 minutes using one cup of teff to three cups of water.
Teff leads all the grains—by a wide margin—in its calcium content, with a cup of cooked teff offering 123 mg. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, a nutrient not commonly found in grains. Teff is also high in resistant starch, a newly-discovered type of dietary fibre that can benefit blood-sugar management, weight control and colon health.
What it is: It is the seed of a plant from Central America. It has a nutty flavour and combines well with other grains.
How to use it and store it: Use one part seeds to two and a half parts water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.
- It’s higher in protein than many other grains.
- It’s high in the essential amino acid lysine, which is typically hard to find in plant-based foods.
- It is a good source of calcium and iron, important for bone health.
- Amaranth is also high in potassium, phosphorous and Vitamins A, E and C.
- It’s filled with essential oils that help lower hypertension, cholesterol and blood pressure.
As you can see these grain-like seeds are extremely versatile, offering an array of diverse nutrition. Many of them may be new to your pantry, but I encourage you to give one or all of them a try!
Citrus wild rice recipe
¾ cup wild rice, soaked overnight in 2 cups of water
2 ½ cups water
½ tsp salt
½ cup hazelnuts
1/3 cup cranberries
½ cup orange juice
¼ tsp ground fennel seeds or Chinese five spice powder
½ cup orange segments
Zest of one orange
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp macadamia nut oil
1. Drain soaked rice and place in medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and salt and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until grains have burst and are tender, but still chewy (about 30 to 35 minutes). Drain and set aside in medium bowl.
2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Toast hazelnuts in oven until centers are golden, about 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool and rub in towel to remove as much of the skins as possible. (Or you can purchase organic dry roasted hazelnuts!)
3. Soak cranberries in orange juice for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Add the soaked cranberries and the spices to the warm rice. Toss with vinaigrette.
5. Just before serving, combine hazelnuts and cranberries with rice. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with orange slices.