The Benefits of Going Gluten-Free (Your Tastebuds Will Love Gluten-Free Grains)
Choosing to go gluten-free is a delicious way to make positive changes to your health. When you start adding gluten-free grains to your diet, you may be pleasantly surprised by the benefits they have throughout your daily life.
You may have already been using some gluten-free grains without even knowing it (oats, for example, and corn!).
Gluten-free grains are grains your tastebuds will love. They’re packed with an impressive nutritional profile, from high fiber and protein, to plenty of vitamins and minerals. They not only have nutritional value and health benefits, but they’re also just as versatile in the kitchen as traditional gluten-based grains.
If you love gluten-free foods, check out these gluten-free grains that will spark creativity in the kitchen, so you can experience the many benefits of going gluten-free.
Teff is more than just your average grain. It’s an edible seed like quinoa that’s naturally gluten-free and high in protein. It comes in a variety of colors, from white and red to dark brown. Teff’s a natural grain that’s fueled families for thousands of years. They’re super for their natural nutritional properties and a staple for gluten-free cooking.
Teff is high in protein with a combination of essential amino acids needed for the body’s growth and repair. There are high amounts of calcium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, and vitamin C (which isn’t normally found in grains). One cup of cooked teff equals about ½ cup of calcium-rich food in cooked spinach, manganese, iron, and vitamin C. It’s a super tiny grain with not-so-tiny power.
If you’re a diabetic, you might want to consider adding teff to your diet to control blood sugar levels. Teff contains about 20 to 40 percent resistant starches and has a relatively low glycemic-index that helps diabetics regulate their sugar levels.
Not only does teff help us grow big and strong, and help manage our blood sugar, they’re gluten-free! Teff’s a great alternative for those living with celiac disease, having gluten intolerance or choosing a gluten-free lifestyle.
Teff can be eaten whole, steamed, boiled, or baked as a side dish or main course. It can also be ground into flour to make an excellent gluten-free alternative. With it’s nutty, grainy flavor, it’s great for making waffles, cookies, bread, crackers and an assortment of other baked goods.
If you enjoy a sweet dessert after dinner, but enjoy a gluten-free diet, try Chocolate Chip Ivory Teff Cookies. They are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Sorghum is a cereal grain that grows tall like corn, and is the fifth most commonly grown grain crop in the world after wheat, rice, corn and barley. It uses fewer natural resources in its production and is the model sustainable crop. Sorghum is high in dietary fiber and has a natural flavor making it ideal for use in many types of gluten-free recipes.
Sorghums not just a gluten-free grain, it has many health benefits too. A single serving of sorghum contains 48% of your daily recommended intake of dietary fiber. This will keep your digestive tract running smoothly throughout the day. Adding Sorghum to your daily diet, your calcium levels will increase improving your bone health, and your energy levels will increase.
Sorghum is an incredibly versatile grain. In addition to whole-grain and flour, sorghum can be utilized as pearled grain, popped kernel, bran, and syrup. It’s grown in varieties of color like black and burgundy, which provide additional benefits, like antioxidants. The different forms of sorghum lead to culinary creativity in the kitchen.
Sorghum is a great gluten-free grain to add to any recipe. Sorghum has a mild, nutty taste, which allows for unique culinary creativity and one-of-a-kind flavor profiles. With its slightly, nutty flavor and hearty, chewy texture, it would be a great addition to our Zesty, Lemony Sorghum and Chicken Skewer Bowl. This is a great comfort food after a long day on the town.
Buckwheat belongs to a group of foods commonly called pseudocereals. Pseudocereals are seeds that are consumed in the same way as cereal grains, but don’t grow on grasses. Buckwheat is gluten-free and processed into grains, flour, noodles, and used in buckwheat tea.
Buckwheat offers more than just being a gluten-free grain. It helps reduce inflammation and lowers cholesterol, both of which are important for maintaining heart health. Buckwheat is also very low on the glycemic-index, which prevents a sudden spike in blood sugar. Buckwheat is not just healthy for you, but serves as an excellent alternative to wheat.
Buckwheat is great for using in gluten-free cooking because it perfectly mimics many gluten-based grains. It isn’t as popular as wheat and oats, perhaps because of its strong bitter flavor. Roasted buckwheat has an intense taste – like darkly toasted bread or a hoppy beer. (In fact, buckwheat has been used to create gluten-free beers!)
Some prefer the strong taste of buckwheat, as delicious as it is, in moderation. A very common use for buckwheat is porridge. It can also be used to make cold grain salads and hot grain casseroles.
Oats are often praised as one of the healthiest breakfast option around. Oats, which come from the plant Avena Sativa, are a type of common whole-grain cereal grain grown from its seeds. As soon as oats are milled, steamed, heated, and cooled in a kiln, they blossom into flavortown.
Oats are incredibly nutritious and great for a well-balanced diet. Oats are an excellent source of carbs and fiber, contain more protein and fat than most grains, and are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They’re the superfood of breakfast. They’re very filling and keep you full all day long.
Whether it’s a bowl of overnight steel-cut oats, batch of oatmeal raisin muffins, or a slice of comforting oatmeal pie, oatmeal comes in many forms. Oatmeal is the quintessential healthy hot breakfast you’ve been looking for. While oatmeal may not carry the superfood appeal that quinoa or teff does, its humble nature makes it an approachable, highly nutritious food that all 9-fivers will love.
Maize is usually considered a vegetable but it’s actually a grain. Maize is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Although yellow corn/maize is very common around the world, maize varieties come in many other colors too, such as red, orange, purple, blue, white and even black.
Maize is a grain plant, which originated in southern Mexico. The kernels of maize hold the majority of nutrients and are the most consumed parts. If you love munching these little golden kernels, then here are some reasons to add them to your diet.
Although maize is higher in sugar than other gluten-free grains, there are several other properties of this grain that must not be overlooked.
If you’re an athlete or love sweating it out in the gym, then include maize in your meals more often. Maize contains complex carbohydrates which our body digests at a slower pace. This in turn provides energy for a longer duration of time. One cup of maize yields around 29 grams of carbs, which not only provides physical energy but also ensures proper functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Maize not only provides you with energy, it’s also a sweet ray of sunshine and a delicious treat to be enjoyed, as with all things, in moderation. There are many ways to add maize to your diet. One delicious recipe is cornbread. Try mixing whole, grilled corn kernels into the cornbread batter, and add finely chopped smoked bacon or roasted jalapenos for another dash of flavor.
You can even have maize for breakfast. The American south loves its grits. Grits are a classic breakfast dish, but they can serve as a wonderful side companion to fish, roasted vegetables or steaks. Buttery grits are a fantastic accompaniment to roasted brussel sprouts.
Rice is a versatile grain consumed by people around the world and serves as a staple food for many households. Rice comes in several colors, shapes and sizes, but the most popular are white and brown rice. White rice is the most commonly consumed type, but brown rice is widely recognized as a healthier option.
Brown rice is a whole grain that contains all parts of the grain — including the fibrous bran, the nutritious germ and the carb-rich endosperm. Brown rice is rich in fiber and antioxidants as well as important vitamins and minerals.
Brown rice contains lignans, plant compounds that help protect against heart disease. Lignans have been shown to reduce the amount of fat in the blood, lower blood pressure and decrease inflammation in the arteries. Studies suggest that eating brown rice helps reduce several risk factors for heart disease.
Rice can be the most versatile players in your mealtime lineup. It’s been sneaking its way onto many plates around the world. Rice can be used in many ways such as soups, a side dish, or casseroles.
Amaranth is a lesser-known gluten-free grain with health benefits that rival the likes of King quinoa. Amaranth is tall — often six feet — with broad green leaves, bright red or gold flowers, and around 60 different species. The flowers are made up of tiny, grain-like buds that often fall into the “grain” category.
When amaranth is ground, the flour is generally a pale ivory shade, although the red “buds” can be ground as well for a red-tinged. If you plan to use amaranth flour for baking, it should be mixed with other gluten-free flours because it’s to dense to be used alone. No one likes dense birthday cake!
Cooking amaranth is comparable to cooking pasta or rice. Its thick density makes it great for a thickener, but when used for baking, mix it. When amaranth is eaten as a snack, it can have a light, nutty, or peppery-crunchy texture and flavor. Best of all, amaranth is even more nutritious than its friends, teff and quinoa.
One reason amaranth is emerging into the forefront among grains is because of its remarkable nutrition. It’s high in minerals, such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, and carotenoids, than most vegetables. It has truly remarkable protein content as well.
Amaranth is extremely versatile in the kitchen. It can be roasted, popped, boiled, and added to other dishes. As a breakfast cereal, if simmered just right, amaranth has a sweetness and porridge-like consistency that makes it a delicious cereal.
For a snack, add a tablespoon of amaranth seeds at a time in a hot, dry skillet. Continually shake or stir until the seeds pop. Eat them as a snack or use them to top soups, salads, and vegetable dishes.
When cooked with other grains, such as brown rice, amaranth doesn’t overwhelm with its sticky consistency but adds a nutty sweetness.
Quinoa climbed its way to fame by associating itself as a gluten-free grain. It’s one that originated thousands of years ago. It’s treasured because of its nutritional value (with 8 grams of protein per serving. That’s more than any other grain or seed!). It’s also a great source of calcium and is high in lysine, B vitamins and iron. Better yet, the seed is easy to digest and gluten-free!
When cooked, quinoa has a crunchy, nutty flavor. It works great in savory side salads, mixed into veggie burgers and more. It’s also great as a hot breakfast cereal – just pour in some milk and add chopped nuts for a crunchy topping.
Millet is slowly creeping to the top of everyone’s list of favorite whole grains. Sure, it’s not as chewy as barley and it’s not as high in protein as quinoa or teff, but with the rising popularity of quinoa, millet remains a low-key option at about ¼ th of the price. Like quinoa and other whole grains, millet lends itself well to breakfast porridge dishes, instead of rice alongside vegetable stir-fries and savory pilafs.
Millet is relatively high in protein, like other healthy whole grains, and it’s a good source of other vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, zinc, and iron.
Unlike other whole grains, millet needs to be timed well when cooking so that you don’t end up with a squishy mess or a hard crunch — unless you want your millet to be more porridge-like.
But First, Try Gluten-Free Grains
Gluten-free grains may be intimidating at first, but once you get to experimenting, you will see just how easy cooking with gluten-free grains can be! Check out our recipe page to explore other ways to incorporate gluten-free grains into your daily meals.