Gluten-Free Grains to Spice Up Your Sides

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It’s important that grains are included in a gluten-free diet. Often, when people go gluten-free they think they need to avoid all grains. This is almost never necessary and ends up removing a lot of nutritious foods from your diet.

Instead, people who are living gluten-free should enjoy gluten-free grains while avoiding gluten-containing grains. These guten-containing grains that should be avoided include wheat, barley, rye, and any other versions of them.

As for grains that don’t contain gluten, below are some gluten-free grains to try when following a gluten-free diet!

Gluten-Free Grains to Try

There are many gluten-free grains and pseudo-grains to try on a gluten-free diet. These grains are usually good sources of carbs, soluble fiber, b vitamins, and minerals. These grains include:

  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice, including wild rice
  • Sorghum
  • Teff
  • Oats (depending on the individual)

As you can see, avoiding gluten still gives you many other grain options to enjoy. In case you need inspiration, let’s talk about how you might incorporate some of these grains into your diet.

Buckwheat (yes, it’s a gluten-free grain)

Well actually… buckwheat technically isn’t a gluten-free grain. It’s actually a seed. Many people get confused about if buckwheat is safe because it has “wheat” in the name. Rest assured, buckwheat has no wheat in it. It’s a good example of a pseudo-grain, which is a food that resembles a grain but isn’t actually one.

You can buy buckwheat as flour that can be used in cakes, pancakes, muffins, and more. Or you can buy buckwheat as a groat and cook it like quinoa and add it to salads or stuffing for vegetables.

Buckwheat also comes in noodle form called Soba. This is a noodle that is traditional in Japan. Just make sure if you’re buying Soba noodles, you’re verifying they are made with buckwheat because some are made with wheat flour.

Buckwheat has a nutty and earthy flavor similar to other grains. It has all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete plant-based protein. And it has trace minerals like copper, zinc, and manganese. 

You can buy buckwheat flour or buckwheat groats for around $4.99/lb. Just make sure you’re double-checking that it’s gluten-free.

Corn

Corn is another gluten-free grain that can easily be added to a gluten-free diet. It comes in the form of popcorn, flours, corn chips, tortillas, etc.

You can make a lot with cornflour. You can make your own corn tortillas, pancakes, corn muffins, and more.

Corn also comes in the form of grits and polenta which can be made into hot cereal. If you’re a savory breakfast lover, this is a must-try.

Additionally, what many people forget is that corn chips are another way to add gluten-free whole grains to your diet. A side of corn chips and fresh salsa is always a great option to add gluten-free whole grains to a meal.

The cost of corn varies by the type you are buying. Gluten-free Corn Flour from Maseca for example costs $0.79/pound. But gluten-free corn grits can be $2.19/pound.

Millet

Another gluten-free grain to try is Millet. Many people often forget that this grain is gluten-free as well. In fact, millet is considered an ancient grain, which just means that it’s been minimally changed via breeding over the years.

At ~2.99/pound for whole millets seeds, it’s fun gluten-free grain to try. It tastes a lot like corn but a tad sweeter and has a texture similar to couscous. Because it’s a lot like couscous, you can cook and serve it similarly. Alternatively, you can buy millet in flour form and use it in baked goods like you would any other gluten-free flour. 

Quinoa

Perhaps a little better known, quinoa is yet another gluten-free grain to try. Most commonly served as the whole grain that’s been steamed and cooked like rice though it is a little tougher and nuttier than rice. You can also buy quinoa flakes which can be used as an oat-free alternative to oatmeal. 

At around $4/poound, quinoa is another impressive gluten-free grain that also offers all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete plant-based protein source. And it offers a great source of fiber like many other gluten-free grains on this list. Helping keep your bathroom trips regular and your heart healthy.

Sorghum

At about $4 a pound, sorghum is another gluten-free grain to try. You can buy it as flour or as a whole grain.

Sorghum flour has a mild sweet flavor. When using it, you’ll want to combine it with starchy gluten-free flour to prevent crumbly products. Think cornmeal, potato starch, etc. This Gluten-free Butter Pecan Muffin recipe is a good example of how to use this flour in baking.

When cooking the whole grain sorghum, you’ll want to cook it like quinoa and rice, boiling it in water until soft. You can then use the grain in salads, as stuffing in vegetables, and more.

Wild Rice

Lastly, while technically not a true rice, wild rice is another gluten-free grain to try. The color alone makes trying this grain an adventure, as the deep, almost black color adds vibrancy to dishes. Not to mention this deep color indicates more antioxidant activity than typical rice.

Antioxidant activity and color aside, wild rice can be prepared just like regular rice and used similarly. However, it has a much nuttier and earthier taste than brown and white rice. Some people don’t mind eating this rice as is. Though costing anywhere from $3-$9 dollars a pound, many will mix in a small amount of wild rice into their white rice to add color and texture.

Trying New Gluten-Free Grains is an Adventure

Following a gluten-free diet can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to figure out how to cook new foods like gluten-free grains. Take it day by day. And remember, this is a culinary adventure. Try to keep it exciting if you can!

Personally, I make it a point to try 1 new recipe a week, so I don’t get burnt out cooking new foods all the time but I’m also trying new things often.

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