Brrrrrrrrr… – My thoughts on winter


romanesco broccoli

One would think that March would be the beginning of new life in nature. Bright green grass begins to spring up, buds on the trees are popping out and birds are chirping happily. We are all ready for the great outdoors. Yet, Mother Nature has other plans. Yet again we were blessed with another blanket of the white stuff. Schools were closed, even the Federal Government shut down and we were encouraged to stay indoors to allow the Department of Transportation to clear the roads.

After a brisk walk in the fresh air, I was inspired to prepare a bowl of Kasha. This is my grain of choice during winter. This hardy grain is a relative of the rhubarb. In medieval Russia it was a feast of choice. Kasha is roasted buckwheat; it has no connection to wheat at all. It is a gluten-free food.

Buckwheat is a cooling grain. It supports the stomach, large intestine and the spleen. Of all the grains, buckwheat has the longest transit time in the gut. It is therefore the most filling and stabilizing for blood sugar irregularities. This is the optimal grain for diabetes patients. Other great characteristics of this grain are that buckwheat helps neutralize the toxic acidic waste in the body, helps to lower cholesterol, and is an excellent choice as a blood building food. Buckwheat is high in rutin and quercetin, flavonoid glycosides that have beneficial effects on blood vessels. It helps to lower high blood pressure, reduce capillary permeability and increase micro-circulation in veins. Did I mention it has all eight essential amino acids? It is higher than all other grains in lysine and has 100 percent more calcium than other grains, thus it is considered a nutritional powerhouse.

Buckwheat pairs well with mushrooms since both have great earthy flavors. Enjoy this exquisite dish on a cold winter day and let’s hope that spring is around the corner.

egafton recipe march 2014

 Buckwheat with crimini mushrooms and broccoflower and fresh cilantro

 1 cup Kasha

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cup filtered water

1 cup crimini mushrooms sliced

½ head broccoflower (Romanesco broccoli) cut in small florettes

¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

Fresh ground pepper


Bring two cups of water to boil add salt. In the mean time add the oil to a sauté pan and sauté the sliced mushrooms and broccoflower florets. Rinse well your kasha. Add kasha, sautéed mushrooms and broccoflower to the boiling water and cook for 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  Allow cooling and fluffing; season to your taste with fresh chopped cilantro, fresh ground pepper and more salt if needed

The texture of grains can be changed by boiling the water before adding the grains. This will keep the grains separated and prevent a mushy consistency. This is the only way to cook kasha (Buckwheat). Do not add kasha to cold water, as it will not cook properly.


eleonoraEleonora Gafton is a faculty member and professional chef in the Nutrition and Integrative Health program at Maryland University of Integrative Health, one of the nation’s top graduate schools for health and wellness studies. Growing up on an organic farm and winery in Romania, Ms. Gafton developed a passion for natural foods. She completed her chef training at Ministerul Turismului International in Bucharest, Romania and went on to work in a three-star hotel, becoming the first female executive chef in a communist country. Ms. Gafton holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel management from Cornell University, a master’s degree in herbal medicine and clinical studies from Maryland University of Integrative Health, and a certificate in health coaching from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NY.  For more great recipes and information, visit her website at


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