Even though we had a gorgeous 70°F day last week, today’s brisk temperatures and biting wind are reminding us that winter isn’t quite over yet. This next week’s forecast shows temperatures hitting 70°F again one day and snow only two days later. So while Winter and Spring battle it out, here is a winter menu to warm you up on the cold, blustery days like today.
One of my favorite wintertime comfort foods is a hot bowl of hearty chili with a chunk of cornbread on the side. Mmmm…..
I also love using the slow cooker any time of the year because it shifts the dinner prep time from evening to morning and generally takes the edge off of dinnertime. That way I can relax a bit more and enjoy the kids when they get home from school instead of having to get started on chopping and cooking soon after they get off the bus.
So it’s no surprise that my favorite chili recipe to make is a slow cooker chili recipe! (Keep on scrolling for the recipe.)
I’ve tried several variations of a cornbread recipe to go with the chili and have landed on a Buckwheat Cornbread recipe that is gluten-free but still moist and with a hint of sweetness that all good cornbread should have. AND it contains buckwheat, which is one of the more amazing foods that I have stumbled upon over the past few years.
Despite what the name suggests, buckwheat does not contain gluten and is not related to wheat at all. Buckwheat is in the same family as rhubarb and sorrel and the part we eat is actually the seed of the plant. You get buckwheat flour when you remove the hull and grind the seed.
[Here’s a shopping tip: if possible, try to find “light” buckwheat flour when purchasing at the store because the “whole” buckwheat flour is made by grinding the buckwheat hull in with the flour, which adds a darker color similar to wheat flour but virtually no nutrients. In effect, this dilutes the benefits of the buckwheat flour and you get less for your money.]
The list of benefits from buckwheat is seemingly endless. When I pulled my various food reference books off the shelf to research the health benefits of buckwheat, I was amazed to read the long list of vitamins and minerals that are contained in buckwheat. I knew that it was a healthy food but didn’t realize just how much it could be helping our bodies! Read on to see what I’m talking about…
In addition to the benefit of being gluten-free, buckwheat is the best known grain source of high-quality protein, contains many essential amino acids, and is rich in iron, zinc (essential for maintaining a healthy immune system), copper (helps you get more restful sleep), selenium (an antioxidant that can help protect the lungs from free radicals and prevent asthma AND helps to alleviate feelings of depression), and magnesium (a mineral needed for proper energy metabolism).
Buckwheat contains two important flavonoids – quercetin and rutin – that have been shown to block the spread of cancer. And the rutin also helps to prevent heart disease and is great for our overall cardiovascular health because it keeps our blood flowing properly and unobstructed. And since buckwheat also contains vitamin E, the effects of these flavonoids are enhanced.
Buckwheat reduces levels of damaging LDL cholesterol and lowers blood pressure.
Buckwheat also helps to control diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels. The carbohydrates in buckwheat are digested more slowly than other forms of carbohydrates, which causes blood sugar levels to rise more evenly. This also leaves you feeling full longer, making it easier to eat less and control your weight.
So, what’s not to love? Check out the recipe below and try a little buckwheat love in your diet today!
- 1 pound ground meat (beef, venison, or turkey)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 2 cups dried kidney beans, soaked overnight and cooked (or 4 cups canned)
- 4 cups tomatoes, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- ½ Tablespoon honey
- ½ Tablespoon molasses
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup corn (frozen or canned is fine)
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- (optional variations to add heat: 1 minced fresh jalapeno pepper, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon hot sauce)
- Brown meat in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, pepper, and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes. Place everything in a slow cooker.
- Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker and cook on high for 30 minutes and then on low for 8 hours. Serve with buckwheat cornbread.
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 2 cups buckwheat flour
- 2 Tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup coconut oil (melted) or applesauce
- 1 1/3 cup milk
- ¾ cup honey
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 9x13” pan with butter or coconut oil.
- In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, buckwheat flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil or applesauce, milk, and honey.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until no dry spots appear (batter will be thin).
- Pour into prepared 9x13" pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.