Along with the crisp air and the new school year, fall brings with it vibrant colours, cozy sweaters, and a move toward slowing down. The changing season sees farmers’ markets bursting with apples, rich greens, nourishing root vegetables, and warming spices. We naturally begin to crave hearty comfort foods such as soups, stews, and baked goods. As you settle into your fall rhythms, now is the perfect time to incorporate organic, whole grains into family meals.
Gluten-Free Whole Grains for a Healthy Diet
Grains have been a staple food around the world for thousands of years, owing to their nutrition profiles, as well as their durability and longevity when dried. Most of the grains we eat are the edible seeds of cereal crops (such as oats, wheat, and rice), but grains also include pseudocereals (amaranth, quinoa), oilseeds (mustard, flax, hemp), and legumes.
Whole grains are those with the entire seed (bran, endosperm, and germ) intact, whereas refined grains have the bran and germ mechanically removed. As such, whole grains retain more nutrient value and are more flavourful. Whole grains are an integral part of a healthy diet as they are a source of carbohydrates, multiple vitamins and minerals, and dietary fibre. Foods that are high in fibre are not only filling, but work to feed healthy gut bacteria and may also lower your risk of stroke, colon cancer, heart disease, and type-2 diabetes.
While many people think of whole wheat when considering whole grains, there are also many gluten-free options widely available for those with dietary restrictions, sensitivities, or who are simply looking to add variety to their diets. Gluten-free whole grains that lend themselves well to fall comfort foods include quinoa, buckwheat, and wild rice.
Known as the “mother grain,” quinoa is an edible seed that has been cultivated in the Andean region of South America for thousands of years. It is a pseudocereal in the amaranth family with dozens of varieties, the most common of which are white, red, or black in colour. When cooked, quinoa has a light, fluffy texture with a slight nutty flavour, and has grown wildly in popularity in recent years due to its versatility and excellent nutrition profile.
Naturally gluten-free, quinoa is also a complete plant protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also rich in dietary fibre and micronutrients such as B vitamins, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and folate. Research has also shown that in general, the darker the colour of the seed, the higher the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and antioxidants.
As one of the most versatile gluten-free grains, quinoa can be eaten whole in place of rice in familiar dishes, or as a base in salad or stuffing. Organic quinoa flour from Eden Foods is mechanically de-saponized, washed in spring water, and milled in small batches to best preserve nutrients and flavour. When combined with other flours, it is ideal for gluten-free baking. It also makes delicious whole grain pasta, such as Eden Foods’ Kamut® & Quinoa Twisted Pair®, which is perfect for your favourite pasta dishes or hearty fall soups. Try them in this warming red bean pasta soup on a cold, rainy night.
Despite its name, buckwheat is not related to wheat and is in fact gluten-free. Classified as a pseudocereal, buckwheat has been cultivated as a staple grain across Asia since around 6,000 BCE and is now grown almost worldwide. When milled to remove its hard hull, the whole grain is often called “groats” with roasted buckwheat referred to as “kasha” which has a stronger flavour. Hulled buckwheat groats cook quickly with a nutty, slightly bitter flavour, and are adaptable in many types of cuisine.
Buckwheat is an ideal addition to a healthy diet due to its high nutrient content. It mainly consists of complex carbohydrates but ranks low-to-medium on the glycemic index, which may help moderate the rise in blood sugar after meals. The husk around the groat is an excellent source of fibre, especially insoluble fibre which is essential for a healthy gut. Like quinoa, buckwheat also has a complete amino acid profile. It is also very high in rutin (a vitamin C complex flavonoid), thiamin, magnesium, iron, and manganese, and a good source of niacin and zinc.
With its long history, buckwheat has been used in all types of cuisine and dishes, from breakfast to dinner. It can be enjoyed as a porridge, in soups, salads, cabbage rolls, grain burgers, or tabbouleh. We recommend Eden Foods’ 100% Buckwheat Soba in a noodle bowl with all your favourite toppings, or try adding basic buckwheat groats to any soup or stew for a heartier evening meal.
Called manoomin (meaning "harvesting berry") by the Ojibwe people, wild rice is the only grain indigenous to North America. Interestingly, wild rice is not actually a type of rice at all. It is the edible seed of a semi-aquatic flowering plant that grows wild in shallow water and streams. It is estimated that there are thousands of varieties, each unique to different lakes, with their growth vital to local ecology. Eden Foods’ Wild Rice is harvested by hand in canoes from the lakes in northern Minnesota by the Leech Lake band of Ojibwe, using traditional methods passed on for thousands of years.
Wild rice grains have a slightly chewy outer husk and an earthy-tasting inner grain. It is firm but fluffy when cooked, and can be used in a variety of dishes. Wild rice is also naturally gluten-free, cholesterol-free, low in fat and sodium, and a good source of dietary fibre. Nutritional analysis shows that wild rice is an excellent source of niacin, manganese, and phosphorus, and a good source of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, and zinc. Recent research has shown that the antioxidant and lipid-lowering properties of wild rice may help manage diabetes and have benefits for cardiovascular health.
This versatile ingredient is perfect for evening and holiday meals alike. It is also a wonderful addition to soups, pilaf, salads, grain burgers, and even desserts. We recommend pairing it with roasted butternut squash, toasted pumpkin seeds, and dried cranberries or as a stuffing in baked acorn squash for your holiday menu.
Whole Grains, Hearty Meals
The changing colours are a great reminder of the cornucopia of culinary delights the fall season has to offer us. As you change your menu, experiment with adding in gluten-free whole grains for a twist on your favourite comfort foods. Enjoy the feasts of the season, knowing you are caring for your family’s health with the best of the world’s ancient grains.
You may also enjoy: The Best Superfoods List According to a Culinary Alchemist and The Macrobiotic Diet For Beginners.
Founded in 1968, Eden Foods is the oldest principled independent organic food company in the United States. Its mission is Creation and Maintenance of Purity in Food. Eden brand is the authentic alternative to commercial food; the purest, best tasting grains, beans, and vegetables on the planet, from known trusted growers. Healthy soil, long-term organic, non-GMO.