Primal Diet – Modern Health podcast on this topic and an article for you too…
The Paleo Diet eliminates cereal grains such as wheat, rice and corn, and the pseudo-grains such as quinoa, millet and buckwheat.
We avoid grains (grass seed) because of:
- intense hybridization, genetic engineering, pesticides and/or fertilizing
- toxic and inflammatory Lectins which can lead to Leaky Gut and food allergies
- high starch and calorie content, causing elevated Insulin, blood sugar cycling and weight gain
- anti-nutrients such as Phytic Acid preventing us from absorbing nutrients
- we didn’t evolve eating grass seed – it’s a modern food from only 12,000 years ago
But I needed more calories and don’t tolerate sweet potatoes or other starchy tubers. So I experimented with the best way to prepare Quinoa and Wild Rice. One cup of cooked Quinoa adds 220 calories, so don’t add these grains unless you’re at or under your ideal weight.
Important Note: This is about my personal experience trying some grains and pseudo-grains. Your experience may be different. Do your food challenge with care! And don’t eat Gluten…
Cereal Grains vs. Pseudo-Grains
Cereal grains are the seeds of cultivated grasses and include wheat, rye, oats, rice, corn and barley. We’ve changed them from their original wild state as short, unimportant grasses with tiny seed heads. We now have huge, heavy seed heads of corn and wheat growing on industrial acreage.
“Pseudo-grains” are seeds from shrubs or bushy plants, not grasses. They include Amaranth, Buckwheat, Quinoa and Millet.
Wild rice is not a true rice or Cereal Grass – it’s a reed-like Aquatic Grass. It grows in shallow water with the seed heads visible above the water. It is related to “rice” but has not undergone extensive hybridization. The seeds are large and dark brown, native to North America and China.
Best Grains to Add to Paleo?
Lately a few bloggers have added white rice to the acceptable grains list. It’s fairly low in Phytic Acid and Lectins. But it’s highly hybridized and almost pure starch with very little nutrients.
I tried introducing white rice to my diet but found it too high in starch and not very satisfying. Others can tolerate a little white rice (better than high Phytic Acid brown) but you may find yourself unable to stop at just a small amount. And you’ll be hungry soon after your blood sugar crashes back down….
What I discovered instead was that Quinoa and Wild Rice are tolerable to me in small amounts and reasonably digestible even in my FODMAPS sensitive gut.
THERE’S A TRICK TO THIS! PREPARATION IS KEY!
How Do I Properly Prepare Quinoa and Wild Rice?
Here’s a summary of my rules:
- Buy organic and non-hybridized
- Soak a long time to remove Phytic Acid
- Cook longer than directions state to break down complex plant fibers and help digestion
- Only eat small amounts to avoid carbohydrate surge
Quinoa is difficult to grow, preferring cool arid land often far from commercial transport. It’s a staple of Peru and Bolivia. It’s expensive, so use it in small amounts as extra carbohydrate, color and texture.
Most Quinoa is pale yellow, but for some reason Red Quinoa works best in my tummy. I don’t know why. Perhaps it will work for you too. But don’t overeat it – it’s high in carbs. You can buy Sprouted Quinoa but I never found it more digestible. I like this method better.
How to prepare Quinoa my way
- Rinse 1 to 2 cups Quinoa well in a small mesh strainer
- Soak 6 to 9 hours without refrigeration
- Rinse well to remove saponins (trust me – just do it)
- Bring to a very slow simmer in a small saucepan with just enough water or broth to cover
- Cook covered for 12 minutes. Check if more liquid is needed. Keep cooking, covered
- Cook about 25 minutes in all
The rinsing, soaking and extra cooking time help remove anti-nutrients and make it more digestible to those of us who’ve avoided grains a long time. Reintroduce slowly and don’t overeat. Maybe a tablespoon at a time…
There are 2 kinds of Wild Rice. Both are expensive, but the taste, texture and color are uniquely wonderful. Nutty, dark brown and slightly chewy even with longer cooking.
“True” Wild Rice grows wild in 2 to 10 feet of water and is harvested by hand from small boats. It costs $9 to $15 per pound.
Cultivated Wild Rice grows on large farm acreage in just a foot of water. The water is drained for combines to harvest the seed. The price runs anywhere from $6 to $12 per pound depending on the grade. Cultivated rice may be hybridized and might not be organic – check the label.
I love the taste of both Wild and Cultivated, but have found the authentic wild seed to be more digestible. Try both and see how it goes. Wilderness Family Naturals sells the “real deal” at very good prices. This site has reasonable prices too and offers both wild and cultivated.
Again, PREPARATION IS THE KEY TO DIGESTIBILITY!
How to prepare Wild Rice my way
- Rinse 1 cup wild rice well in a strainer
- Soak 7 to 12 hours on the kitchen counter
- Rinse well
- Add 3 cups filtered water or broth and bring to slow boil
- Cook covered on low for 30 minutes. Check to add water or broth. Keep cooking, covered
- Cook about 45 to 90 minutes in all, longer than directions state
Wilderness Family Naturals true wild rice is Jumbo sized and requires even longer cooking. Longer cooking helps break down carbohydrate structures and improve digestibility.
What if I don’t digest Quinoa and Wild Rice very well?
If you’ve been grain free for several years, or find you feel best on a low FODMAPS diet, try only small amounts of these foods, well-soaked and well-cooked. Try cooking them even longer and see if that helps. Take it slowly and see if the gut adapts.
You’ll find you crave the taste and texture of these carbs and will want to overeat them, so go slowly and don’t forget that vegetables and winter squash are your main carbohydrate source.