Apparently, buckwheat is one of the most beloved superfoods in Lithuania. The World Health Organization (WHO) has included this and other staple grains in the list of must-have products during self-isolation. According to experts, buckwheat is affordable, easy to prepare, and has a long shelf life. The grain is healthy, as it contains many valuable nutrients and complex carbohydrates. Buckwheat is also rich in insoluble dietary fibre, contains amino acids and plant-based proteins and is rich in B1, B2, B3, B6 vitamins and rutin necessary for maintaining the nervous system.
It also contains minerals such as manganese, important for metabolism and growth, copper for heart health, magnesium for maintaining nerve and muscle health, iron to prevent anaemia, and phosphorus necessary for growth and bone health.
However, buckwheat also contains oxalate and should be consumed with caution by people with kidney stones. It is also not recommended for people with grain allergies. There are
340 calories, 13.3 grams of protein, 72 grams of carbohydrates, 3.4 grams of fat, and 10 grams of fibre in 100 grams of buckwheat. Based on the healthy-eating pyramid, people should eat various products containing complex carbohydrates, and a daily portion of cooked buckwheat can be as much as 200-300 grams. Nutritionists advise eating buckwheat that has been soaked in water overnight, or cooking for 10 to 12 minutes.
In Lithuania, the “buckwheat diet” (eating nothing but this grains for a few days) has become extremely popular in recent years, but the key to good health is a well-balanced diet.
I have eaten buckwheat pancakes at a restaurant in Kaunas, as well as having it as a hot cereal. The pancakes are also featured in some of the old Lithuanian cookbooks. Some of them use buckwheat flour, but not the whole grain cereal. Like many grains, they can be made sweet or savoury, and personal taste dictates whether they are a vehicle for honey or fruit preserves, or sour cream (which goes with everything); or mixed with spinach, onion and paprika. Again, many recipes in Lithuanian can be tricky due to variances in spoon sizes and expressions, such as stiklinė (literally a glass, which we would call a cup). There are even recipes that do not actually specify amounts… This is probably because Lithuanians are quite logical, and expect one to be able to figure it out. Here are a few recipes for whole-grain buckwheat pancakes, and a gift from Latvia – popped buckwheat.
Simple Buckwheat Pancakes
• 1 cup buckwheat (cooked)
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 “šlakelis” (probably a splash) milk
• 1 pinch salt
• 1 tsp or more sugar or honey
Combine ingredients and fry in oil. Serve with syrup, jam, sour cream and/or bacon bits*.
*Bacon bits (spirgučiai) in Lithuanian cuisine are not dry bacon, but sauteed with chopped onion, and can be a basis or a garnish for many dishes.
Savoury Buckwheat Pancakes
A more creative recipe
• 125 grams buckwheat (4.4 oz., or about ½ cup)
• 1 egg
• 5 tablespoons flour
• 1 handful spinach
• “some” onion, to taste
• 1 clove garlic
Cook the buckwheat, add egg, chopped spinach, onion and garlic. Add flour, mix and fry in oil. Serve with sour cream and/or bacon bits.
Buckwheat & Vegetable Pancakes
Another example of culinary precision (but our Moms did this too)
• 3 cups soaked or cooked buckwheat
• 2-3 tablespoons flour
• 1-2 eggs
• 1 onion
• 1 carrot
• 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
• 1 or 2 cloves garlic minced
• Chopped parsley
• Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients, fry pancakes in butter or oil. Serve with sour cream and/or bacon bits.
Boil buckwheat in water without seasoning. Spread the buckwheat on a tray to dry. Heat oil in a saucepan, add buckwheat into the hot oil. Add salt, sugar, or other spices as preferred.