Rather than just using plain oats in my granola, I like to mix it up a bit and add in other grains - in this case buckwheat, which is actually not a grain at all and has no relation to wheat despite its name. It is in fact a fruit seed, which belongs to the same family as rhubarb and sorrel but it looks like a grain, acts like a grain when cooked and nutritionally speaking is similar to other grains, in that it contains high levels of B vitamins, iron, magnesium and calcium. It is also high in flavonoids, especially rutin, which provides the body with antioxidant support. Flavonoids are a type of phytonutrient or compound found in plant foods, which help protect the plant against environmental challenges. When we eat plant foods, the phytonutrients get to work on us providing us with the protection we also need from the many environmental challenges we face!
Energetically speaking, buckwheat is more yang, meaning it has a more contractive nature. In fact it is thought to be the most yang when compared with other grains. With its slightly sweet flavour, it is strong, warming, contractive and activating. It cleans and strengthens the intestines, improves circulation to the hands and the feet and reduces high blood pressure. Because of its warming nature, it is a wonderful winter food as it helps us to store energy deep in the body. If we look at buckwheat in terms of the five elements, it is classified as a water food. The water element relates to winter and water foods tend to have an energy which travels deep into the body. Water foods also counteract the energy of fire foods, which have a more upward dispersing energy. Therefore, for someone with high blood pressure for example, we can begin to understand how a more contractive food like buckwheat would help.
What I love about buckwheat is that it can be used in many different ways. It makes a delicious and deeply satisfying porridge, especially when mixed with oats and raisins. Eaten raw and sprouted, it feels lighter and more energising and works well in salads, especially in the cooler months. For a nice combination of grains, it goes well with quinoa, adding a warming quality to a more cooling grain. And of course my granola, here it works a treat! Although, I shall end this piece with a word of warning. Delicious as granola may be, it's dry and crunchy nature makes it hard for the body to digest. First thing in the morning it doesn't give our bodies the kick start they need where something softer, more warming and more digestible is a better option. I like to add a sprinkling of granola onto my porridge, that way I get the lovely crunch but I know I have a breakfast that's easy to digest. Perhaps we should see granola as more of a treat, to be added as a sprinkle or eaten as a little snack in the afternoon. Whatever you decide be warned - it is irresistible!
2 cups of buckwheat (soaked for at least a couple of hours or overnight)2 cups jumbo rolled oats1/2 tsp salt3 tbsp coconut oil1/3 cup maple syrup (or half maple syrup, half rice syrup)1 tsp cinnamon 1 cup cashews (or almonds & cashews)
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup goji berries
1 cup coconut pieces
1/2 to 3/4 cup raw cocao nibs
Method: pre-heat the oven to 180c. Drain the buckwheat and rinse until the water runs clear. Place on a baking tray and allow the buckwheat to dry out in the oven for about one hour. Meanwhile, mix together the oats, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, coconut pieces and salt. Remove the buckwheat from the oven and add to the oats. Heat the coconut oil over a low heat, add the sweeteners and then pour this over the whole mixture. Turn the oven up to 160c, spread the granola mix on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, turning it after 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, add the goji berries and raw cocao nibs and allow to cool before placing in a jar.