Nutrition Tuesday: Gluten-Free Grains

Posted on August 7, 2012

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Last week I was featured on the Gaiam Life website (yay!). My article Seedy Toppings: 4 Seeds for Super Health, featured chia, teff, hemp and flax seeds. Be sure you check it out and leave a comment there if you’ve tried any of those seeds before.

Today, I am writing a follow-up post here on grain-like seeds that you can cook and use just like familiar grains.

Quinoa (keen-wah)

Considered a sacred crop by the Incas, this versatile seed is a good source of protein, calcium and fiber. Quinoa can be enjoyed hot or cold, sweet or savory. Try it in place of oatmeal for breakfast topped with berries or rice for dinner accompanied by vegetables.

Before cooking quinoa, it is recommended to rinse to remove the bitter coating. After rinsing, combine one cup of quinoa with 1.5 cups of water, bring both to a boil and then simmer covered for 10 to 15 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. If desired, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the cooking water. When cooked, the germ will appear like a curl, the seeds will be fluffy and have a light nutty taste. For extra flavor, dry toast the quinoa in crushed garlic and two teaspoons of olive oil before adding water.

Amaranth

Another seed native to South America, amaranth has a similar nutritional profile to the ones already mentioned. In addition to an impressive protein, calcium and fiber content, this seed is also a good source of polyunsaturated fat close to the amounts found in olive oil.

This seed should only be consumed cooked. Combine one cup of amaranth with 2.5 cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. As with the other seeds, amaranth can be made into a sweet or savory dish.

Millet

High in protein, magnesium and phosphorus this African seed is versatile like the other seeds mentioned in this post. General cooking guidelines are one cup of millet to 2.5 cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. Stirring constantly throughout the cooking process will create a creamy, mashed potato consistency. This seed is one of my new favorite finds! Try adding some coconut oil to the cooking water to amp up the flavor.

Teff

I wrote about teff in my article on Gaiam Life but here I include some details on preparation options. As I mentioned in that article, teff is grain is gluten-free.

Teff can be made into a savory or sweet dish. Simply combine one 1/2 cup of teff with two cups of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. If desired, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the cooking water. The grain can also be ground into flour for use in gluten-free bread and pancake recipes.

Have you tried any of these seeds? How did you use them?

– Kareen, MPH, RD

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All content, including text and photography copyright © Kareen EatingRight 2009-2012, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved. Ask first to use original text, photography, graphics, images, and scripts contained here. All information presented and contained within is based on my own knowledge, thoughts, opinions, and personal experiences. No information or products presented are meant to diagnose, treat or replace professional medical advice.

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