You don't need to give up your pasta and rice forever, but it's worth trying a few different gluten-free grains that are packed with nutrients and flavor. Besides, there are several perks to eating more gluten-free grains in general, as it's easier for the body to digest and absorb. This isn't to say you need to go gluten-free unless you're intolerant or have Celiac disease, but it's a smart idea to add in a few gluten-free staples within your balanced diet.
And, for those who can't eat gluten and still want those hearty grains and carbs, these gluten-free grains will surely hit the spot. Grains in general are high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, and more, which can help you reach your daily requirements of essential vitamins and minerals. Here are five gluten-free grains you'll want to stock up on now.
Though technically a fruit, and not a grain, as it is in the rhubarb family, it's considered a grain based on how it's consumed and it's rich, grain-like texture. However, it's free of wheat and gluten, says Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, in NYC, and bestselling author and founder of The F-Factor Diet. The taste is stark and a little bitter, but it works well with bold flavors and is great when used as a flour to make baked goods, she says. Buckwheat contains a slew of flavonoids and has a good source of magnesium. It also contains 8 out of 9 of the essential amino acids, she says, for major protein to keep you full.
Though not as strong and sturdy as buckwheat, quinoa is still rich and will tide you over until your next meal. As it's a bit fluffier and has smaller granules, it's great for salads, meat breadcrumbs, or puffed snacks and granola bars. It's also sweeter in flavor, she says. And, this grain actually has all 9 amino acids, making it a complete protein, as well as a hearty source of phosphorus and iron, to boost energy and bone health, she says.
One of the smallest grains, amaranth tastes a bit nutty and crunchy, making it a perfect option for popcorn or granola bars, she says, as well as crunchy salad toppers. Just like quinoa, it's also a complete protein, so it's a good grain to eat after a workout to repair muscle damage. It's also high in B vitamins, iron, and calcium, so it's a real nutritional powerhouse, she says.
It's hard to exclude brown rice, as it might seem basic compared to the others. However, it's not, especially when it's joined by meats, fish, veggies, and delicious spices and flavorful sauces. Brown rice is a rich grain that's gluten-free and packed with fiber and nutrients. A tip? If you're ordering take out or sushi, ask for brown rice or white rice. You'll get more nutritional bang for your buck!
It's more uncommon, but you'll want to know about this gluten-free grain. With a texture that's similar to couscous, it's light and fluffy, and goes well in soups and soups, in paella, and as a salad base or topper. You can also use it in breakfast dishes, as a topper for Greek yogurt or cottage cheese; it'll add some extra protein and fiber, as well as a bit of a crunch and texture element.