Here is a rundown of my favourite grains that you will find in my recipes.
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) is a gluten-free nutritional superstar. What most people don’t know about quinoa is it isn’t really a grain. I like to think of it more as a grain-like seed. It originates from the spinach family, and because isn’t truly a grain it doesn’t feed yeast the way brown rice would. This makes it the perfect choice if you are suffering from an underlying yeast infection. Quinoa is, in fact, one of the four gluten-free pseudo grains you can enjoy while following an anti-candida diet. What is more, it acts as a prebiotic to feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
When it comes to buying quinoa, you can purchase this in a variety of gorgeous colours; pink (yes really, although I have no idea where you get this from), ivory, red, brown, black, and yellow. The most common ones you are likely to find in the supermarket are the yellow, and ivory. If you head to Wholefoods or your local health food store you should be able to spot the red and black varieties.
When it comes to flavour, colour matters. The red and black ones have a stronger more bitter flavour, while the ivory or yellow are gentler on the palate. You can buy quinoa as the wholegrain or as flakes which make a lovely alternative to porridge oats.
The success of cooking quinoa depends on not letting it go mushy. I recommend soaking quinoa before cooking so it doesn’t produce oleic acid and the anti-nutrients. In a rice cooker with pre-soaked quinoa use a ratio of one cup of water to one cup of quinoa. If you haven’t soaked it then, you need two cups of water to one cup of quinoa.
If you don’t have a rice cooker don’t fret, you can cook this on the stove by cooking it in a similar way to rice. Use one cup of water, bring to the boil, then add one cup of pre-soaked quinoa and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. If you haven’t soaked it then, you need two cups of water to one cup of quinoa.
I love to jazz up my quinoa with vegetable stock, fresh and dried herbs, spices, and seasoning as it cooks. Once cooked quinoa will keep for a couple of days in the fridge in an airtight container. Dry quinoa should last for up to a year if stored correctly.
It may be a funny thing to admit, but I can’t imagine my life without oats. I have grown up eating oats for breakfast. There is nothing I love more than a steaming hot bowl of porridge on a cold Scottish winter morning.
Oats are naturally gluten-free. However, there are often processed in places that handle wheat. As a result, they can be susceptible to cross contamination. If you are living with Celiac disease or have an intolerance to gluten, then always ensure you are purchasing gluten-free oats. These will ensure no cross contamination has occurred.
Oats are sold in a variety of different ways based on how they are cut and rolled. I prefer to buy steel cut oats, and I always go for organic. I use the steel cut oats in most of my Nourish recipes. These can easily be cut finer in the food processor if desired.
You will find oats take a starring role in many of the Nourish breakfast dishes and desserts. They are so versatile. Their sweet nutty flavour is perfect for baked goods, crumbles, coatings, cereal bars and other snack recipes. Their chewy texture makes them perfect for thickening up stews and soups. One of my favourite ways to enjoy them is to make porridge. Paired with a plant-based milk and topped with some fruit or natural sweetness or spices you have a delicious breakfast or snack.
Oats truly are one of the most comforting foods.
Buckwheat is a constant source of confusion. The name implies that it contains wheat when in fact buckwheat is completely gluten-free. Like quinoa and millet, it is a grain-like seed also known as a pseudo-grain. It’s fruit seed which is related to rhubarb and sorrel.
Buckwheat is rich in essential and non-essential amino acids and superior when it comes to protein compared to rice or millet. Like other pseudo grains, it doesn’t feed yeast or candida making it another great option if you are trying to starve candida from your system.
Like the other pseudo grains, buckwheat should be soaked in pure filtered water for around eight hours with a pinch of Himalayan sea salt or Celtic Sea Salt. This will help remove any anti-nutrients or enzyme inhibitors. Before cooking rinse it thoroughly.In a rice cooker with pre-soaked buckwheat use a ratio of one cup of water to one cup of buckwheat. If you haven’t soaked it then, you need two cups of water to one cup of buckwheat.
If you don’t have a rice cooker again, you can cook this on the stove. Use one cup of water, bring to the boil, then add one cup of pre-soaked buckwheat and simmer for 20 minutes. If you haven’t soaked it, then you may need more water. Buckwheat goes well with root vegetables, stock, spices and seasonings.
Gluten free pasta
I have to say that when I first started making changes to my diet, there were a very limited gluten-free and dairy-free products available. Gluten-free pasta was only available from hidden away health food shops. Nowadays most supermarkets have a gluten-free range, packed with gluten-free alternatives.
While I love how supermarkets are making an effort to cater for those wanting to go gluten-free they are unfortunately over relying on over processed gluten-free alternatives made from maize or corn. I recommend using brown rice pasta. This has a far lower glyceamic load that the over processed white gluten-free pasta made from maize and corn.
For this, you may be better off heading to your nearest wholefoods or local health food shop. They are likely to sell a variety of gluten-free pasta alternatives such as linguine, tube, spirals, lasagne sheets. The company Organ, for example, has a great range of rice and buckwheat pasta, which are allergy free, wheat free, gluten-free, yeast free, dairy free, nut free.
You can also get some amazing noodles by companies like Clearspring. They have sweet potato and buckwheat noodles, quinoa and buckwheat noodles, brown rice and wakame noodles. Have a wander around your health food store and see what you can discover.
Look for ones that are predominantly buckwheat, brown rice and quinoa as opposed to maize or corn. Make sure you read the labels so you know exactly what you a buying. Some buckwheat noodles for example also have regular wheat in them, so you want to make sure it is 100% buckwheat. The key to cooking delicious gluten-free noodles and pasta is not to over cook them. Make sure you follow the cooking instructions and soak them in cold water after cooking. You don’t want to cook them for too long as these will just lump together and taste terrible, so just read the label.
The only drawback is that they are very expensive, so I tend to use them a bit more sparingly by putting them into soup and stir-fries.
When it comes to rice, brown rice is my top pick. Not only is it packed with nutrients, but it also has the least amount of processing. This helps the glycemic load stay lower than white rice which has been stripped of fibre. While most people have grown up on white rice, it is not the ideal choice when it comes to our health. Processed within an inch of its life, white rice is left devoid of nutrients, goodness and sparkle.
Before you cook brown rice, it is important to soak it in pure filtered water to release the anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors. Like most grains brown rice contains natural oils which are susceptible to rancidity. You want to buy it from places which have a high turnover rate so the rice you are buying is fresh. At home store your rice in a glass container and eat it within an adequate amount of time.
Always buy organic if possible.Like quinoa, you can buy brown rice as a wholegrain or as flakes. Again these can make a great alternative to traditional oats. The have a similar consistency to porridge but are a little firmer.
Before cooking soak them in either your favourite plant-based milk or in salted water (depending on whether you want them sweet or savoury). Like oats and quinoa flakes they work well in baked goods, cereals, crumbles and for putting into veg burgers just to coat them.
One thing to keep in mind is that they are not as nutritionally beneficial as oats plus they have a higher glycemic load. You, therefore, need to be mindful of the impact these can have on your blood sugar levels especially if you suffer from diabetes.
Millet is fantastic; it is especially good for using as a porridge with a slightly more bitter taste to it, and it holds well. Like quinoa, millet is a grain-like seed also known as a pseudo-grain. It acts as a prebiotic and feeds your beneficial bacteria without feeding yeast, like candida. This makes millet another great rice alternative if you’re following an anti-candida approach.
It is vital you soak millet well before cooking to reduce the (goitrogen) thyroid inhibitors. For most people, these won’t be too detrimental, however, if you are suffering from a thyroid condition I would avoid consuming large amounts of millet.
Millet should be soaked in pure filtered water for around eight hours with a pinch of Himalayan sea salt or Celtic Sea Salt. This will help remove any anti-nutrients or enzyme inhibitors. Before cooking rinse it thoroughly.
In a rice cooker with pre-soaked millet use a ratio of one cup of water to one and a half cups of millet. If you haven’t soaked it then, you need two cups of water to one cup of millet.
If you don’t have a rice cooker don’t fret, you can cook this on the stove in a similar way to rice. Use one cup of water, bring to the boil, then add one cup of pre-soaked millet and simmer for 20 minutes. If you haven’t soaked it, then you may need more water. In Nourish I show you how to give it some pizzaz with root vegetables, stock, spices and seasonings.