I’ve always loved the taste of kasha and have been eating it for many years. I guess I thought it was some kind of cereal or grain and never found out what it was until recently. I was a little surprised at what I learned.
Kasha comes from buckwheat. Despite the name, buckwheat is neither wheat nor a grain. It is a fruit seed of the buckwheat plant though it is often referred to as a grain the way quinoa is. Buckwheat is related to rhubarb and sorrel. It was first cultivated in Southeast Asia about 8000 years ago and it is now cultivated around the world. It is very hardy and inexpensive to grow.
Kasha is made from the hulled seeds or groats of the buckwheat plant which is then toasted and cooked. Kasha can be used in many ways and is generally eaten like a cereal.
Flour is also made from buckwheat and it’s used to make pancakes, cookies, breads, and it is used as additive to granolas and other things. Buckwheat flour is also used to make noodles. Japanese soba noodles are made from buckwheat.
Because it isn’t wheat, buckwheat is gluten-free and a terrific food for those who have a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease. It can also be a good substitute for rice. And with its rich nutrition, it’s a good food for vegetarians. No matter which way you eat it, buckwheat has some terrific benefits.
Studies have shown that diets rich in fiber can help prevent breast, colorectal, esophageal, and even oral cancers. Adding more foods with fiber is important since most people don’t have enough in their diet.
Buckwheat is high in antioxidants. It helps to neutralize the body’s free radicals helping to prevent coronary heart disease. It also contains a plant metabolite called rutin, which is known to strengthen blood vessels and decrease blood pressure. Rutin also is known to prevent varicose veins and blood clots. Buckwheat is also a good source of Magnesium which relaxes the blood vessels, helping to lower your blood pressure.
Buckwheat has a low to moderate glycemic index and may moderate glucose levels making it a good choice for diabetics. Adding buckwheat to the diet will help manage the disease.
Buckwheat is excellent for weight loss because of the high fiber, low fat content. It helps to keep you feeling full and compared to its wheat counterparts, and there are fewer calories. And it is great for digestion.
Good Source of Protein
The protein in buckwheat is a high quality protein, containing all eight essential amino acids, including lysine. There isn’t as much protein as in quinoa, but there is more than in grains or cereal. And it is easily digestible.
Great Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Buckwheat is high in B vitamins, manganese and is a good source of copper, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus which are all
vital for health maintenance.
One Cup Cooked Groats has:
6 grams of protein
1 gram of fat
33 grams of carbohydrates
5 grams fiber
Only 1.5 grams of sugar
Kasha Recipe from the NY Times
2 cups water
Salt to taste (I used 3/4 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup toasted buckwheat groats (kasha), preferably medium-cut (cracked)
Combine water, salt, and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it reaches the boil turn off heat and cover.
Meanwhile, beat egg in a medium bowl and add kasha. Mix together until grains are thoroughly and evenly coated.
Transfer to a medium-size, wide, heavy saucepan (I use Analon nonstick), place over high heat and stir egg-coated kasha constantly until grains are dry, smell toasty, and no egg is visible, 2 to 3 minutes. Add just-boiled water, turn heat to very low, cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes for cracked kasha, 30 minutes for whole kasha, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.
Remove lid from pan, place clean dish towel over pan (not touching the grains), and cover tightly. Let sit undisturbed for 10 to 15 minutes. Fluff and serve.
Cooked kasha will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and freezes well.