Why I keep using Quinoa and Buckwheat when my website is called “Grain Free Living”

You know, my most common email I get from people are please explain type emails asking why I use quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat in my recipes.  When clearly, they are a grain, right?

Well, no.  They are not.  Buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth are all seeds, not grains.  They are in the category called pseudocereals (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudocereal), meaning they are cooked, used and commonly referred to as a grain, but are, in fact, not.

I have posted about this issue on my website before, but it is worth repeating with a couple of clarifications as to why I use them, as many grain free diets do not.  Perhaps this is why many people assume they are grains, as the paleo, GAPS and SCD diets, which are probably the main “movements” of grain free also do not allow any of the pseudocereals.

My original post on Quinoa is a Seed not a Grain here, and my original post on Buckwheat is a Seed not a Grain here.  Essentially they both provide a quick list of a few of the 100,000+ online resources explaining that they are seeds, not grains, mostly written by educated souls who explain the issue far more eloquently than me.

I haven’t got around to writing up amaranth yet but same principles apply. It’s a seed. If you don’t believe me, and frankly, why would you, please do a google search “Is Amaranth a Seed or a Grain” BEFORE you email me.

Personally, I love them and they agree with every member of my family, which is why I cook with them.  They are an excellent, highly nutritious gluten and grain free alternative for those who for a variety of reasons (nut allergies or salycilate sensitivity for example) cannot use nut flours.

That doesn’t mean they should be eaten or you should eat them. If you are following GAPS, SCD or PALEO diets, then of course you wont be eating them.  In fact, many people with immune problems still don’t respond well to these seeds/pseudo-cereals and don’t eat them. There are many reasons why certain foods should be avoided besides the fact that they are grains.  Paleo, GAPS and the SCD avoid many ingredients for other reasons than the “grain” category.  Starch/carbohydrate composition is one reason.  The fact they are a a (seed) crop not used by hunter/gatherers is another.

But for many people who are grain free for other reasons they are great to know about.

I am in that category.  I am “NON-DENOMINATIONAL GRAIN FREE”.  I don’t slavishly follow any one particular grain free approach because I don’t need to.  We have been grain free for over a decade, and over the years have developed a pretty good handle on what works for us and what doesn’t.  And that is really all this website is: my personal journal outlining my personal experience of dealing with our personal story of healing Crohn’s Disease through avoiding grains.

My recipes are for my own use – a personal record of what I cook.  They also reflect hidden background stories.  For example – so many of my recipes are nut free because for a long period I could not cook using salicylates or nuts and had to develop an alternative approach. It was a difficult period as nut meals are so fun and delicious to cook with.  I’m glad that time is over but the recipes remain as a marker of that time and have been greatly appreciated by other parents who are cooking for children who have similar issues to mine.