All of the ingredients below can be considered nutritious super-foods. Most of them are naturally gluten-free and are a significant source of protein, dietary fibre, calcium and other vitamins and minerals. Seeds and grains are best prepared by soaking, sprouting or fermenting — this accomplishes two important things:
- Increases digestibility by breaking down the phytic acid (and gluten, for those containing it)
- Increases bio-availability of nutrients — in other words, helping you to absorb more of the good stuff.
In general, seeds mainly provide food from the embryo part, while grains provide food from the fruit part. The term ‘groat’ refers to the hulled kernel of a grain or seed.
This is an incomplete list, but I will add to it as I have time and/or feel the need to… Slowest blogger ever and I’m okay with that 🙂
Gluten-free. Like quinoa and buckwheat, amaranth is actually a seed (though it is most often referred to as a grain). Amaranth is high in protein – with nearly double the amount of protein per cup compared to long grain white rice. It is also a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. High in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, fibre and vitamin C, amaranth is native to Peru, and has successfully been cultivated in various climates around the world.
1/2 cup dry amaranth seeds + 1 1/2 cups water (cook 20 minutes) = 1 1/2 cups cooked amaranth
Gluten-free (despite its confounding name, buckwheat is not related to wheat). Buckwheat (or fagopyrum esculentum) is actually a seed, not a cereal grain. It is an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, copper, fibre, vitamin C and phosphorus. Buckwheat can be found roasted (‘kasha’) or unroasted. Native to Northern Europe and Asia, buckwheat is commonly used to make pancakes (usually using ground buckwheat/flour mixed with a wheat based flour — though buckwheat pancakes can also be made by simply soaking and grinding whole buckwheat groats!)
1/2 cup dry buckwheat groats + 1 cup water (cook 10+ minutes) = 1 1/4 cups cooked buckwheat
Gluten-free. Chia (or salvia hispanica), are a nutritious seed loaded with protein, calcium, fibre, phosphorus, manganese, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. When soaked in liquid, they expand to about double their original size, with a gelatinous coating formed around them. They make great puddings, or egg substitutes in baking and can be eaten raw, whole, sprouted or ground. Chia seeds may be black or white in colour and are easily added to many recipes as they are virtually tasteless.
1/4 cup seeds + 1 cup liquid (e.g. almond or coconut milk) (soak 20 min or overnight) = 1 1/2 cups pudding
Gluten-free. Hemp hearts (or cannabis sativa, also called shelled hemp seeds) are simply the edible insides of hemp seeds. They are a complete protein, rich in calcium, fibre, iron, zinc, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp hearts have a nutty flavour and can be eaten raw, sprinkled on yogurt, cereal, salads or blended into hummus (see Super Omega Hummus), dressings, and sauces. Bonus: these nutritious seeds are grown organically and sustainably right here in Canada!
Contain a small amount of gluten protein, but can be sourced wheat-free. The common oat (avena sativa) is a nutritious grain, loaded with fibre, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper and protein. Oats can be found in many forms — from whole groats to steel-cut (slightly smaller than the whole groat) and old fashioned (or large flake oats) to quick-cook oats (more finely ground). Oat bran is the thin fibrous layer found beneath the hull or shell. Oat flour is made from grinding the oats even finer (some oat flours are mixed with wheat flour, so be sure to check ingredients if you’re looking for a wheat-free alternative — or better yet, grind your own flour in a food processor!). Approximate proportions and cooking times are dependent on the form of the oat — see below.
1/2 cup rolled oats + 1 cup water (cook 15 minutes) = 1 1/4 cup cooked oats
1/2 cup steel-cut oats + 1 1/2 cups water (cook 20-30 minutes) = 1 1/4 cups cooked oats
1/2 cup whole oat groats + 3-4 cups water (cook 50+ minutes) = 1 1/4 cups cooked oats
Gluten-free. Qunioa or chenopodium quinoa is in fact a seed or pseudo-cereal, rather than a grain, closely related to amaranth (if you look closely, amaranth looks like a smaller version of quinoa). The seeds may be red, white or black in colour. With a slight nutty flavour, quinoa is best if soaked and rinsed thoroughly prior to cooking (to remove any bitter saponin residue). Quinoa is highly nutritious with loads of dietary fibre, calcium, protein, iron, folate, magnesium and zinc.
1/2 cup quinoa + 1 cup water (cook 15-20 minutes) = 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
Gluten-free. Teff or eragrostis tef is a *teeny tiny* grain native to Ethopia. It is an excellent source of protein, iron, calcium and dietary fibre as well as phosphorus, vitamin C and manganese. Teff can be cooked, sprouted or ground into flour. It is also used to make traditional Ethiopian injera (a flat pancake-like fermented sourdough bread, which I absolutely intend to make one day!).
1/2 cup teff + 1 1/2 cups water (cook 15-20 minutes) = 1 1/2 cups cooked teff