Whether you’re gluten-free, paleo or just want to expand your culinary repertoire, these options are nutritious and delicious!
Originating from South America, quinoa is low GI and easy to prepare. It’s also technically a seed not a grain. Quinoa is what’s known as a ‘pseudo-grain’, meaning although it’s cooked and eaten like a grain even though it isn’t one. Quinoa is actually a relative of spinach, chard and beets.
Like other pseudo-grains, quinoa has a more impressive nutrient profile than most traditional grains. It has double the protein of most others and is a good source of fibre. Quinoa is also unusually rich in iron and an excellent source of magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin E.
It’s also great for vegans and vegetarians as it’s a complete protein source. Use quinoa in place of rice, cous cous, barley and even oats. Quinoa porridge goes down on a treat on cold mornings!
Originating in Africa, Teff is an exotic small grain that is naturally high in fibre. It contains more than two times the amount of iron found in wheat, barley and rice. It’s also a good source of protein, fibre and calcium. Most often cooked as porridge due to its sticky texture, Teff can also be used like polenta and made into patties or cakes. It can also be used to thicken soups and stews.
Another pseudo-grain, this mini powerhouse is high in protein and fibre, healthy fats, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. It’s also a source of the amino acid, lysine, which is usually found in animal products. Our bodies can’t make lysine, so we have to get it from our food. This makes amaranth a great addition to a vegan diet.
Millet is very versatile, changing texture according to how it’s cooked. You can use it as a porridge base when it’s cooked until thick and creamy, or as a replacement for fluffy cous cous. Add millet to soups, stuffing mixes, and salads. It’s a good source of the B group vitamins, protein, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. Plus, it contains insoluble fibre, which is important for digestion and keeping you regular!
Anyone who’s tried buckwheat pancakes or muffins won’t need to be sold on the health benefits of this gluten-free alternative! However, as well as tasting delicious buckwheat is also pretty great for you. It’s low GI, high in fibre, and a complete protein like quinoa. Buckwheat is also the only grain to contain high levels of rutin, a phytochemical that protects against heart disease, and helps enhance the beneficial effects of vitamin C. Use buckwheat flour for baking or add buckwheat groats to muesli, sprinkle them on smoothies or cook them into a porridge.