5 Reasons Sprouted Buckwheat = The Best Gluten Free Granola

Have you ever had a eating experience that just changed you? The whole reason I started Lil Bucks was because I had an incredible experience eating an acai bowl while living in Sydney, Australia, where they used sprouted buckwheat to replace granola in the acai bowl.

After eating this life-changing bowl, I felt amazing. No sluggish-ness—alternatively I had an amazing satisfaction and sustained energy, like I’d actually eaten some protein. Not to mention, the bowl had an amazing crunch, of course. The hero ingredient here making everything so tasty and making me feel so amazing was obviously sprouted buckwheat. You can find sprouted buckwheat used as a granola base everywhere in Australia (check out my pic of an Aussie grocery store to the right—over half those products have sprouted buckwheat as the base).

Sprouted buckwheat has tons of amazing uses (see: recipes), and you do want to make sure you consume sprouted buckwheat and not toasted or uncooked buckwheat groats, but the O.G. reason for why I started this brand was to be the perfect gluten-free granola replacement. Here’s the top 5 reasons why Lil Bucks Sprouted Buckwheat makes for your perfect gluten-free granola:

1. BUCKWHEAT IS GLUTEN-FREE!

Yes, a key factor in the perfect gluten-free granola is all ingredients actually being gluten-free. People, especially in the U.S., are so misled by the name “buckwheat” so they write it off as something they shouldn’t eat. I’m here to change that. Did you know, buckwheat is most closely related to the rhubarb plant, and buckwheat groats are actually fruit seeds?

According to Whole 30 ideology, buckwheat is still considered a pseudo-cereal and thus banned more for the mental benefit of not tricking yourself into consuming healthy cereal (in the same way paleo/coconut flour pancakes are banned). But if you’re not doing that, this is seriously the best gluten-free crunchy alternative, something you can eat for that grain-like taste and texture without the horrible sluggish feel afterwards (and one could argue you could still eat buckwheat groats on the Whole30, they’re just not popular enough for Whole30 to have a hard rule on it yet hehe).

2. BUCKWHEAT IS HIGH IN PROTEIN

Unlike most standard granolas, Lil Bucks naturally contain 6g of plant-based protein from the buckwheat. Buckwheat has as much protein as quinoa, but in a crunchy more versatile form. I’ll even dare share this research I’ve done on similar popular ‘healthy’ granolas in the granola aisle…

3. BUCKWHEAT IS LOW-GLYCEMIC

What does low-glycemic even mean? From GISymbol.com: 

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels. 

Remember when I said I had this amazing sustained energy after eating my magical Sydney acai bowl? The magic was in part thanks to the low-glycemic nature of the buckwheat granola replacement. My rise in blood sugar was more gradual after consuming a serving of buckwheat, which means the energy released more steadily throughout the day, leaving me satisfied for longer (rather than having your standard smoothie/yogurt bowl with granola, when you’re hungry again in about an hour). 

It is especially important to pair something like a fruit-based smoothie bowl or yogurt (which, let’s be real, unless you’re eating plain yogurt most yogurts, even the healthiest, have some sugaaa) with a low-glycemic food to help control your energy release. Unless you’re closely watching your blood sugar levels for any reason, the glycemic index probably isn’t the first thing you think about when shopping for your granola, but with the way you feel after eating it, you’ll appreciate this. (oh but for you diabetics, human studies have linked the consumption of buckwheat with lower blood sugar in diabetics. woo.) 

4. SPROUTED BUCKWHEAT IS EXTREMELY HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS + MAGNESIUM

Buckwheat is known as one of the most antioxidant-dense ancient grains (I know, it’s not a grain, but often compared to them due to similar uses and nutrition value). Of all the popular ancient grains, quinoa and buckwheat are known for having the most antioxidants, with a study from Food Chemistry showing that buckwheat has 10x more antioxidants than quinoa! 

More studies need to be done on the benefits of antioxidants and how we can make the most of them, but read this blog post to learn more about antioxidants and why they are good for you. Long story short: Antioxidants = cancer-fighting, anti-aging, energy-boosting, immune-preserving goodness. 

For Lil Bucks, we sprout and dehydrate rather than roasting to preserve as much antioxidants as possible. By sprouting we unleash the nutrition potential of buckwheat and maximize your body’s ability to digest the buckwheat and all its goodness. Then we dehydrate to make these shelf-stable for days (likely at least a year, getting it tested). This also preserves the full nutrition potential of buckwheat, as heat is known to kill off a lot of the antioxidants than come naturally in buckwheat (again, more studies are needed on antioxidants though to determine exactly what temperature antioxidants start burning off). To be safe, Lil Bucks never go over 115°F. 

5. SPROUTED BUCKWHEAT GIVES YOU THE PERFECT CRUNCHY TEXTURE OF YOUR DREAMZ

This all comes back to taste. Of course, if something makes us feel great and gives us a ton of nutrients, we’ll try to eat it, or blend it in a smoothie to mask the taste. But with sprouted buckwheat, you don’t need to do that. On its own (i.e. the Original flavor), sprouted buckwheat has a nice, nutty grain-like taste, and it holds its crunch perfectly in dishes but softly disintegrates right when you bite it. So satisfying. And of course, Cacao (for you chocolate lovers) and Matcha (for you matcha + vanilla lovers) take the taste next level. I highly encourage you to try topping your smoothies, yogurts, oatmeal, desserts, ice cream (yum), salads, ANYTHING with Lil Bucks so you can experience this dreamy crunch like I did in Australia! 

Any questions? Email me: emily@lovelilbucks.com 

Much love,

Emily, founder + owner of Lil Bucks 

Half these products in a standard Aussie grocery store use sprouted buckwheat as the base

THE BOWL OF DISCOVERY. The bowl that changed everything.


Sprouted Buckwheat vs. Toasted Buckwheat

Sprouted Buckwheat vs. Toasted Buckwheat

Squash menu item from sweetgreen served with toasted buckwheat

Lil Bucks is probably one of the first sprouted buckwheat brands in the U.S.A., and while sprouted buckwheat is popular in healthy cafes in Australia, it hasn’t really blown up here yet

So honestly I get SO excited when I see reputable brands using buckwheat. I really hope Kellogg’s or General Mills doesn’t just steal the idea and recipe and put Lil Bucks out of business, but in general it’s great. I found a tiny health cafe in NYC using sprouted buckwheat in their granola recipe, a cafe in Hawaii used it as a crunchy base for a vegan dessert bar, and a smoothie shop in St. Louis offers buckwheat on their acai bowls!

sprouted buckwheat choice health bar hawaii
Mmmm a sprouted buckwheat treat I found while in Maui, Hawaii! (Choice Health Bar)

AND NOW! Sweetgreen using buckwheat on their roasted Koginut squash. I LOVE sweet green for popularizing less known, in-season foods on their menu. Plus, you can really taste the freshness, and this sets them apart from other salad shops across the country. (PS this Mindbodygreen podcast with the sweetgreen founders is great!)

So I’m hoping people continue to fall in love with this crunchy, subtly nutty flavor of buckwheat, along with the nutritional benefits! And as buckwheat grows in popularity, I want to educate you on the different ways of consuming it: sweetgreen uses toasted buckwheat rather than sprouted+dehydrated buckwheat (Lil Bucks are sprouted and dehydrated), and I wanted to explore the differences in these two things, so you can learn why I prefer sprouted buckwheat vs. other forms of cooked/roasted buckwheat (but both are great!!).

WHY COOK OR SPROUT BUCKWHEAT?

Raw buckwheat contains phytic acid, a nutrient inhibitor that’s resistant to digestive enzymes and blocks the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals such as Zinc, Magnesium and Calcium. AND BUCKWHEAT HAS 25% OF YOUR DAILY VALUE OF MAGNESIUM. Sooooo um this phytic acid has got to get out of the way 👋

Phytic acid is common in other seeds, nuts and legumes as well, which helps them last for years completely dormant, but isn’t great for digesting these foods. This is why you see ‘sprouted’, ‘activated’ and ‘roasted’ as popular descriptors for seeds, nuts and legumes.

Sprouting buckwheat (and other seeds, nuts and legumes) almost completely rids the buckwheat of phytic acid, so it becomes more digestible and we can better absorb all the magical nutrients. I really can’t say this better than Raw Gorilla:

“When the nut or seed is soaked it is activated and the dormant enzymes inherent inside start to awaken. Basically the nut or seed is preparing to burst into life and this is the optimum time to de-hydrate or consume them whilst they are at their enzymic peak and bursting with life-force!”

That’s why right after sprouting Lil Bucks, the buckwheat seeds are dehydrated!

Roasting (or cooking) is another way to break down the phytic acid so we can absorb the nutrients, but by doing this we are damaging some of the antioxidants found in buckwheat, and there are a LOT in buckwheat!

Some of these nutrients are sensitive to heat and might be lost during the roasting process. There still isn’t a ton of research on this as we are just starting to learn more and more about antioxidants, but multiple studies show increased temperature and roasting time decrease antioxidant activity (see sources at bottom).

You also want to be careful about the roasting method – dry-roasted or oil-roasted (can even mean deep-fried…). Dry-roasted is better but sometimes with this method, the temperature is much higher, causing more potential heat damage to the nutrients in buckwheat. I’d be interested to know how sweetgreen toasts their buckwheat – I imagine it’s a light toasting to give it that nutty flavor and ensure the phytic acid is released, but I don’t know. I’ll send them this blog post and ask! 😊

APPLYING THIS PRINCIPLE TO OTHER SEEDS, NUTS AND LEGUMES

If you are thinking about the other seeds, nuts and legumes you eat, the principles for sprouting/dehydrating vs. roasting are similar, and you can follow the links below to learn more (most articles and studies don’t focus on buckwheat as much as it’s not as popular YET).

To summarize:

sprouted/dehydrated: less phytic acid, seed is dried at its most bioavailable life stage (aka when the nutrients are most available to us). Con is that if you don’t fully dry a sprouted/soaked seed/nut it can go moldy from the inside, but you can rest assured that commercially purchased sprouted seeds/nuts (like Lil Bucks) go through moisture tests to ensure they are completed dried 🙂

roasting: slightly more phytic acid than if sprouted, but much easier to do at home. Less risk in roasting than sprouting as the high temperature kills off any dangerous bacteria (although risk is small unless you are eating A TON of the particular seeds/nuts/etc.), even though it kills off some antioxidants.

General rule of thumb is that if you eat a lot of roasted nuts/seeds, roasting at home is better than store-bought as you can control the temperature and oil used (if any). But sprouting (or at least soaking before roasting or better yet, dehydrating) may be the best if you’re eating a lot of seeds/nuts to ensure you aren’t consuming too much phytic acid, and you’re making the most out of its nutritional content. ✨

MORE READING ON THIS TOPIC:

https://treadingmyownpath.com/2013/08/26/roasting-soaking-sprouting-activating-or-eating-raw-a-guide-to-eating-nuts/

https://thenourishinghome.com/2012/03/how-to-soak-grains-for-optimal-nutrition/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-vs-roasted-nuts#section3

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-sprouting

https://blog.radiantlifecatalog.com/bid/69542/That-s-Nuts-A-Complete-Guide-to-Soaking-Nuts-and-Seeds


Why We Sprout and Dehydrate

WHY WE SPROUT AND DEHYDRATE LIL BUCKS

Buckwheat groats are the superfood you’ve never heard of. Long utilized by Eastern Europeans and Russians in cooked dishes (mainly in kasha), innovative health foodies found delicious uses for the uncooked seeds in the past decade, mostly in Australia and the U.K.

HOWEVER, in order for our bodies to process all the incredible nutrients in raw buckwheat groats, the seeds must undergo the sprouting process to release enzyme inhibitors that block our bodies from absorbing all the seed’s nutrients. For Lil Bucks, we first sprout them and then dehydrate them to cut out all the moisture, so you are left with shelf-stable, raw nutrient-packed seeds that have a wide variety of uses.

For the cacao and matcha, we add the flavoring before dehydrating to deeply infuse the flavors (and amazing antioxidants from cacao and matcha) into the sprouted seeds. All varieties of Lil Bucks are never processed at a temperature above 115°F – keeping the bucks at a low heat preserves the most nutrients and protein possible (high heat causes nutrient damage). Most importantly, this preserves the extremely high level of antioxidants found in buckwheat (10x more than quinoa).

Read our previous post “Buckwheat Benefits (+ About Antioxidants)”. You’ll learn more about buckwheat benefits, comparing buckwheat to quinoa, and why you want antioxidants in your system.


Buckwheat Benefits (+About Antioxidants)

BUCKWHEAT BENEFITS VS. QUINOA BENEFITS

(and why you want antioxidants in your system!)

The health benefits of sprouted buckwheat seeds are mind-blowing. 6g of protein and 5g of fiber per serving, these nutrient-dense seeds also contain 25% of your daily value of magnesium–you’d need to eat a pound of salad to get that much magnesium! (more on why magnesium is amazing in a future blog post).

Furthermore, buckwheat has an antioxidant capacity of 620 DPPH per 100g (for context, the superfood quinoa has 58 DPPH). Buckwheat actually has quite a similar nutritional makeup as quinoa (information from HealthWithFood):

WHY DO I WANT ANTIOXIDANTS?

Hint: Good for your heart, blood sugar control, and protection against cancer!

You’re probably more likely to feel good about eating a certain food if it contains “tons of antioxidants,” but what does that even mean?

Antioxidants are shown to fight off cancers, aging, and promote overall immune system functions. Numerous studies show that antioxidants may protect cells in your body from “free radical” damage that can occur from exposure to certain chemicals, smoking, pollution, radiation, and as a byproduct of normal metabolism.

Buckwheat specifically contains a rich supply of flavonoids, particularly rutin. Flavonoids are a diverse group of “phytonutrients” (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables, and buckwheat!! Flavanoids can:

  • Help protect you from chronic conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  • Fight against the free radicals that can cause cell damage leading to cancer.
  • Help lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol and decrease plaque in the arteries
  • Reduce the risk of hormone-related cancers, such as breast, uterine and prostate
  • Increase bone density

As antioxidants are researched more every year, we will continue to update our customers with more education on the particular antioxidant benefits of buckwheat, but trust us, this is a great food to include in your diet.