In the United States today, about 11 percent of households regularly eat gluten-free products, whether those are for gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Still, it can be difficult to find and even understand foods that are safe for someone with gluten intolerance to eat. Such is the case with grains, those with unusual names rarely heard among average Americans until the past few years. Millet, quinoa and amaranth are great examples.
Below, these grains are explored to help ease integration into your pantry and diet.
Millet is really a tiny, round seed, not a grain. Available in a range of colors, like white, gray, yellow and red, millet can be prepared to a light, airy consistency or made creamy. This makes it a great option for those who seek something like rice or heartier like mashed potatoes. Millet is mildly flavored and works well for savory or sweet cuisine. It can be used to make a sweetened porridge for breakfast, like oatmeal.
Or it can be used to thicken soups and stews, as gluten often does. Millet can also stand in for rice or potatoes as a healthy grain when variety is needed. In essence, millet is a versatile grain which adapts well to a range of flavorings and uses.
It seems everyone loves quinoa, these days. Restaurants have jumped on board the quinoa trend, using these tiny seeds in vegetarian, gluten-free and even mainstream menu selections. Its popularity is largely because quinoa is rich in protein and low glycemic, making it a great blood sugar stabilizer with a filling quality.
Quinoa is actually related to beets and spinach. But its consistency of similarity to barley or wheat and a wide range of colors make it great for use in salads, main courses and with vegetables. It is slightly crunchy, fluffy, creamy and translucent, making quinoa a sort of contradiction in itself. It clings well to steamed vegetables or salads, adding just a little crunch and texture. Many people prefer quinoa over rice.
The Aztecs used amaranth widely. These little round seed are earthy in appearance and provide plant protein, just like quinoa and buckwheat. Iron, calcium and two essential amino acids are also present in this grain, lysine and methionine. The fiber content of amaranth is three times that of wheat.
Buckwheat, like amaranth, quinoa and millet, is actually a seed. But it is well suited for standing in as a grain. Actually related to rhubarb, buckwheat seeds are triangular, range in color from brown to tan, and the seeds are sized similarly to wheat kernels. During milling, the outer seed hull is removed. Buckwheat can then be used unroasted or roasted. Rutin is a flavonoid which helps protect the heart from disease. Rutin in buckwheat is just one asset of the seed, as magnesium makes it even healthier for the heart.
Brown rice is rice with the whole grain intact from within the rice’s outer hull, providing more nutrition than white rice. Brown rice involves a lengthier cooking process than white rice, but packs a lot more nutrition and fiber in each grain.