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Pseudo Grains and Should We Eat Them?

Happy Tuesday!

Let’s get back to our discussion of eating grain free from last week. We mentioned pseudo grains as a potential option if you are trying to eat grain free. These are quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat; they have a grain like texture and flavor, but are not actually a grain. (Grains come from grass species, pseudo-grains are broadleaf plant seeds)

buckwheat flour
Buckwheat flour is a common flour for pancakes, waffles, muffins and other wheat substitutes. It has a bit of a flavor, but it is the closest in texture and flavor to a grain flour.
Quinoa
Quinoa cooks up light and fluffy like rice. It is an excellent rice substitute and packs a nutritional punch along the way

 

If you are eating grain free, should you consider eating one of the pseudo grains? Perhaps. Let’s explore below!

What are the advantages?

Pseudo grains are a great way to have a similarly performing recipe to a grain but still avoid many of the dietary issues that grains cause. Some people’s bodies do well processing pseudo grains when they cannot handle corn or rice.

All three of these pseudo grains contain much higher amounts of protein than grains, and quinoa in particular is considered one of the few plants sources of complete protein. Compared to grains, they also contain more vitamins and minerals.

Pseudo grains generally come in “whole grain” form – they are not usually processed and separated into parts like wheat or other common grains. This way, when you eat quinoa seeds or buckwheat flour, you are getting all the wonderful fiber and nutrients that God put in these foods to help keep our bodies healthy!

Pseudo grains are a really nice way to add in some extra protein and fiber while avoiding many of the pitfalls of grains. For example, buckwheat is a good flour substitute. Quinoa is frequently used as a rice or porridge substitute, and amaranth is usually more of an add-in to other flours.

What are the disadvantages?

Pseudo grains are still fairly high in carbohydrates. While they may have more things on their side outweighing those carbs, than say a bowl of white rice, they are still carb heavy. If you are eating grain free to cut down your carb intake, they may not be right for you.

Pseudo grains also contain some of the “anti-nutrients” that grains do. There is a decent amount of debate over these. Things such as lectins, saponens, and protease inhibitors are considered by some to promote leaky gut syndrome and cause other nutrient uptake and digestive issues.  There are ways to help bypass these by soaking and mildly fermenting them first, which we will cover in future blogs.

As anything alternative, they can take some getting used to. Just because they are grain-like does not mean they are going to taste the same. Amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat each have their individual strengths and weaknesses.

Should I dive in?

As anything, you need to evaluate your diet and your body. If you are just trying to get away from most grains but still want to have access to some more grain-like meals and substitutes, then pseudo grains are a great place to start. For some good recipes, check out Danielle Walker’s website here. You can search her website for quinoa or buckwheat for some great new recipes to try.

If you are looking to be much lower carb or really avoid the anti-nutrient potential issue, then they may not be best. We will be posting soon about ways to soak, ferment, and otherwise help your grains and pseudo-grains be rid of the anti-nutrients. Stay tuned for more info on this!

As with all things, try a small amount and see how your body reacts. It’s possible that your body may like quinoa but not buckwheat or vice versa. So much of our allergen free journey is trying new things and seeing what each of us thrive on in particular. Let us know in the comments if you eat pseudo grains or not, and why so!

Make it a tasty day,

Chris