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Indulge in Buckwheat Pancakes for More Than One Reason

2022-08-26   ◆   4 minutes read

With buckwheat pancakes, you don’t have to make a choice between a healthy meal and the decadence of a dessert. Let’s dive into the different varieties around the world while understanding the fascinating health benefits of adding buckwheat to your pancake mix. You might even learn a thing or two about its role in pillows and its positive effect on responsible agriculture. Grab your maple syrup and let’s dig in!

What is Buckwheat?

Buckwheat, like Quinoa, Chia, and Amaranth, is a non-grass plant that’s still treated as part of the cereal family. It’s known as a pseudocereal grain, and it holds important gluten-free attributes including significantly higher levels of protein, fat, fibre, and minerals than regular grains. Buckwheat flour is easily distinguishable from other gluten-free flours. Contrary to white and beige coloured flour, buckwheat flour is grey. This grain is one of the fastest growing crops, especially when cultivated in environments with a short summer season such as Northern China, Japan, Russia, Canada, North Dakota, Washington, Minnesota, and New York. However, its name can be deceiving: it’s not wheat!

Buckwheat flour
Buckwheat flour (Janie’s Mill)

What Does Buckwheat Taste Like?

If you’re used to sweet palettes, buckwheat flour might be hard to approach. It is a nutty and earthy flour with hearty flavours. At times, it can taste bitter and can come off strong. Sometimes it’s mixed with another type of flour to make the flavour milder. Once you’ve learned about the health benefits you’ll go all in and never look back!

Buckwheat pancakes with blueberries and butter
Buckwheat pancakes (Self Proclaimed Foodie)

Buckwheat Pancakes

What’s the difference between traditional buttermilk pancakes and buckwheat pancakes? Well, their tastes, health benefits, and how they look! As a pancake, it comes off brown with grey tones. The buttermilk pancakes are sweeter and buttery while buckwheat ones are on a mildly bitter taste. We suggest pairing them with fruits such as blueberries, strawberries and bananas and top it off with the syrup of choice. If you enjoy the savoury taste, try adding eggs, vegetables and hummus.

Buckwheat Pancakes Around The World

Chinese buckwheat pancake
Buckwheat pancake with flavourful toppings (Xiao Hong Shu)

  1. China

China’s most popular breakfast street food is its buckwheat pancakes (Qiao Mai Xiao Jian Bing). “Qiao Mai” means buckwheat, and “Jian Bing” is a general term used to describe pancake/crêpe. These pancakes are quick to make, inexpensive, and easy to eat on the go. They can be topped with different fillings and sauces such as carrots and cucumbers, ham, egg, chopped or diced mustard pickles, scallions, spinach, and coriander with chilli sauce or hoisin sauce depending on personal preference. So yummy!

Korean buckwheat pancake
Korean buckwheat pancake (Kimchimari)

  1. Korea

Korea has their own version, specifically in the area of Bongpyeon, Gangwon Province. Widely known for their buckwheat specialties (i.e., buckwheat noodles and jellies), the pancakes don’t fall short in popularity. The Korean flat cake (Memil Jeon) is served with buckwheat sprouts and stonecrop, with a dash of sweet and spicy red chilli paste (gochujang) to tie the flavours all together. Try it out!

Bhutanese buckwheat pancake
Bhutanese buckwheat pancake (Romandian Masala)

  1. Bhutan

Sweet or savoury? Why not both? Bhutanese buckwheat pancakes (Khur-Le) are the perfect healthy breakfast to start the day. Typically, they are prepared with a side of eggs for the ultimate morning meal, or you can serve them with fruits and a choice of jam. The earthy flavours pair well with the side dishes. 

French buckwheat pancake
Savoury galettes (Delicious)

  1. France

Galettes, or Breton galette, are France’s version of buckwheat pancakes. Their adaptation comes in a flat round shape filled with savoury goodness. Ingredients like ham, eggs, spinach and tomatoes are commonly found in galettes. Top it with melted cheese, nothing can beat it! Another version of the galette is wrapping a sausage in a buckwheat pancake (galette saucisse). Pack it with you as a quick snack and you’re good to go. Of course, you can also enjoy these galettes with sweet fillings, such as almond paste, cream chantilly, fruit toppings and maple sauce!

Where did Buckwheat Originate From?

Chinese farmer harvesting buckwheat
Chinese farmer harvesting buckwheat

Buckwheat was first cultivated in Northern China. Its origins date back to 2600 BCE. This has been a popular grain for Northern communities to complement staple foods such as rice and wheat. In regions with weak soil conditions, buckwheat still thrived as it’s a hardy crop. Once it migrated to Russia, demand quickly grew and it was only a matter of time until it expanded throughout Europe and North America.

Buckwheat is relatively easy to grow due to its fundamental ability to adapt to the environment and not to mention, its resilience against pests. These conditions make it an ideal grain for farmers to cultivate and invest in. 

Buckwheat harvest
Harvesting buckwheat (Tend)

Impact of Buckwheat on Increasing Biodiversity

There are various positive impacts of buckwheat when it comes to sustainable agricultural practices.

  • Buckwheat helps develop ecological diversity
  • Buckwheat yields white flowers and nectar for insects (excellent for honey cultivation) and other biodiversity. It competes well with (most) weeds and grows as a quick soil cover, reducing soil degradation.

  • Buckwheat decreases soil erosion
  • This wonder grain decreases the possibility of soil erosion. It’s also promoted as a good crop for making phosphorus in the soil available, but that was not proved to be totally right. We now know that a generous phosphorus consumption by plants does not necessarily result in additional renewable plant energy sources.

  • Buckwheat is an amazing cover crop
  • Cover crops are planted with the intention of protecting and nourishing the soil. Sometimes they aren’t even planted to harvest! Buckwheat is a great replacement for crops that couldn’t grow in the season. It can be harvested within 10 weeks if planted late in the season, and 12 weeks if planted early in the season. Its adaptability to survive in harsh conditions and in infertile soil makes it appealing to farmers.

  • Buckwheat is an alternative fertilizer
  • Additionally, the grain’s hulls are a possible substitute for fertilizer and animal feed. With global tariffs surging the prices of fertilizer, it is possible that farmers will not be able to produce enough crops in 2023. Opting for buckwheat as fertilizer may help with the upcoming fertilizer shortage. Plus, this grain is a great source of carbohydrates for all types of livestock.

    Blossoms of buckwheat
    White blossoms of buckwheat plants

    Take Advantage of Buckwheat’s Health Benefits

    Health benefits of pseudocereals
    Health benefits of pseudocereals (Pseudocereals Book)

    There are many ways you can gain health benefits from buckwheat:

  • Offers Anti-Inflammatory Effects
  • Buckwheat is abundant in flavonoids such as rutin and quercetin. Rutin enhances blood vessels and quercetin reduces inflammation. 

  • Great Grain Alternative for People with Celiac Disease
  • Since buckwheat isn’t considered wheat, it is an amazing gluten-free option for people who have gluten intolerance or cannot digest gluten. This grain provides a substantial amount of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

  • Provides Better Digestion
  • Buckwheat contains a large quantity of fibre. This means that consuming these earthy seeds helps regulate your bowel movements and helps avoid constipation. Implementing buckwheat in your diet can help assure that you will have a healthy digestive system.

  • Helps Manage Blood Sugar Levels
  • Not only can you improve your digestion, but buckwheat also helps control your blood sugar levels. It is packed with nutrients that can be beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes by decreasing insulin resistance.

    Buckwheat Pillows?

    Buckwheat is primarily used for food products such as pancakes, noodles, biscuits, cakes, and even beverages (think of buckwheat tea and beer). But with this amount of use, it’s no wonder that innovation pushed these grains to the next level: buckwheat pillows.

    Buckwheat pillows
    Pillow filled with buckwheat hulls

    But why pillows? The selling point of buckwheat pillows is their incredible support. The grain’s outer shell moulds and frames to the shape of your head and neck. As a result, you don’t need to worry about your posture since it provides the support you have been longing for. Not convinced? These pillows hold their shape for 20 years! That is because if you take care of your pillow perfectly, the grain’s hull takes a while to break down. Keep your head and neck protected every night. Also, buckwheat pillows are able to easily circulate airflow. As a result, they keep you cool in hotter seasons, and warm during the cooler seasons. 

    Buckwheat is far more than just a source for a tasty dessert, it’s an invaluable cover crop, contributes to great health, encourages biodiversity, and is affordable in many countries. Why not treat yourself (and your tummy!) to a buckwheat pancake? Dessert Advisor can help you find pancakes near you.

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