When you find out you need to be gluten-free, your heart might break a little. You will have to say good-bye to your beloved wheat. But not only the king grain Mr. Wheat, but also barley, rye, farro, freekeh, spelt, durum, bulgur, couscous, kamut, panko, semolina, triticale, and every other derivative comes from these. O, woh is me, right? Well, no actually, there is no need for a pity party. When I found out gluten made my body sick, I got excited about researching all the naturally gluten-free grains out there. Most people without food allergies have no idea about the immense and beautiful variety of food there really is. They stick to the classics and the boring. Having to choose gluten-free grains is so far from boring and does not require sadness or pity. Believe me, you will be so much happier eating the large variety of gluten-free grains and pseudo-grains out there. Not only will you get crazy nutrition but you will also be introduced to awesome flavor and creative recipes that wow. So with you gluten-freeness comes a special perk of wowing everyone with your grain knowledge and delicious recipes. Say good-bye to the boring and bring on the fun!
Amaranth: It's Loaded with B vitamins, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Not to mention in just one serving you get a whooping 8g of protein! It is great in salads or a morning hot cereal!
Buckwheat: Contrary to its name, it is completely gluten-free and has nothing to do with wheat. It's rich in flavonoids like rutin and a good source of magnesium helping to regulate blood sugar. Buckwheat is great as a hot cereal, in salads, as a flour, or even as the main star of the show!
Kasha: This grain is actually just buckwheat, but toasted! I love kasha and use it in my dinner bowl creations often. It is a rich nutty taste and cooks in about 10 minutes!
Rice: This is probably going to be you first go-to grain when you start your journey. But please, look past any processed rice products or plain old white rice. Expand you palate with baby steps if you will. From brown rice, to black rice, to wild. There are just so many varieties I can't list them all! One of my favorites is red rice too! Rice can be found in every color of the rainbow, each with their own texture and taste but all a wonderful source of healthy whole grain!
Millet: This was one of the first "out-there" grains that I tried. Millet has a sweet nutty flavor which can be enhanced by lightly toasting it in a pan before cooking it in water. It is a fun hearty grain and also a great breakfast option as well!
Teff: I have never actually tried teff yet, but it definitely is a great grain! It has 123mg of calcium in 1 cup! It is also a pseudo-grain and is the smallest of the grains out there. It is most commonly used in porridge or as a nutrient dense flour.
Sorghum: You will mostly see this grain used as a flour, but you can also cook it as a whole grain or, better yet use it as an alternative to popcorn! It is extremely nutrient dense and full of fiber, iron, and protein. So if you want a "healthier" version of your plain Jane popcorn, pop up some sorghum!
Corn: On the topic of popcorn, let us look at the grain corn. Corn is wonderful, but lets get something straight. Corn is NOT a vegetable, but a grain. Corn is also one of the top 3 GMO crops in the US. But corn has wonderful benefits and nutrients so don't fear it. Just go with organic cornmeal, polenta, popcorn, hominy, grits, etc. Corn is so versatile from tortillas to cheezy polenta (<---polenta is my favorite!). You also have other fun varieties like blue cornmeal! And don't forget how wonderful it is in pancakes!
Quinoa: O, this little pseudo-grain is becoming quite popular now isn't it? It is loaded with potassium, phosphorus and all 9 amino acids making it a quality protein power-house! 8g in a single serving. Quinoa comes in different colors like white, red, and black. Plus this little guy can be used for everything! From flour, as a great "meaty" substitute, perfect for sprouting and using as a salad topping, its whole grain form, to the famous quinoa flake!
Oats: Yes, oats in there uncontaminated form are gluten-free. They just have to be certified gluten-free to be considered safe to eat. Oats are an extremely healthy fuel for breakfast and also great as a flour. Not to mention they are the granola king!
See! No need for a pity party. You have tons of options. Plus, these are only the start of all your options. Don't even get me started on all the beans, legumes, and seeds you can be using! That is for another post, haha. If you are gluten-free and new to it at that, these are the essential gluten-free whole grains to know and use regularly in your diet! Have fun and experiment. You will find the ones you love, the quick recipes and go-to family favorites. Who needs wheat pasta when you can have sprouted quinoa pasta! Of who needs a wheat pizza when you can have a brown rice crust? Don't let gluten-free scare you, expand your palate and try new things!
So tell me:
What is you favorite gluten-free grain? I love Kasha and of course Quinoa for its versatility.
What was the first "new-to-you" grain you tried after going gluten-free?
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