Two hills of health

One of the main things we advocate in this blog is that vegan food can be very simple. Today we get to prove that in an even more extreme way than usual! What do you think the smallest possible number of ingredients is from which you can make soup? Obviously you’ll need some water and salt or things won’t work out, so that’s already 2. Today, we managed to make soup by using just one more ingredient than this: Tartary buckwheat. The lunch will then continue with polenta and a vegetable sauce from peppers, carrots, and onions. To accent our meal, we also served a salad of radicchio garnished with sunflower seeds.

Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum) belongs to the same genus as common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum). Though these two plants may be close relatives, they are still distinct species. This makes them more different than cauliflower and kohlrabi! (Hard to believe? Cauliflower and kohlrabi actually are the same species and are just different at the varietal level! Cauliflower is Brassica oleracea var. Botrytis while Koleraba is Brassica oleracea var. Gongylodes. You also find many other vegetables as distinct varieties within this species, such as cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli).

Though not the same species, both these types of buckwheat are quite similar, and thus also very similar in their culinary uses. The biggest difference is that tartary buckwheat has a considerably higher antioxidant polyphenol content than its common relative (about 50x more!) making it more bitter and giving it a more intense yellow colour.

The Hungry Pumpkin team has a long history of investigating both of these types of buckwheat, and you can find more about our work with them in the additional reading at the end of this post. But first, we need to talk about antioxidants.

What does it mean for a food to contain antioxidants? Actually, what even are antioxidants?

Throughout our lifetimes, each of our bodies will be constantly exposed to numerous oxidative agents from the environment. Though you may think “oh, oxygen, that’s in air, I need that to live,” these are different substances, which can cause damage to structural elements of your body’s cells as well as its many biomolecules. Oxidation reactions can lead to the formation of free radicals that can trigger numerous chain reactions in your body and result in damaged cells. Antioxidants (as the name implies, they are ANTIoxidants) play an important role in preventing and minimizing damage by reacting with these free radicals and thus neutralizing them (imagine them as a parent giving a big hug to an angry child to keep them from breaking a nearby vase). Antioxidants are, therefore, substances that slow or prevent uncontrolled oxidation. Their source may be endogenous (present in the body), such as some enzymes and low molecular weight compounds including coenzyme Q, melatonin, and others. Exogenous (from outside the body) antioxidants are also well-known to science, for example, vitamins C and E, phenolic compounds, and carotenoids.

In healthy organisms (which hopefully is all of you reading this!), the ratio of oxidants and antioxidants is in balance. However, when there are too many oxidative injuries and insufficient amounts of antioxidants, the balance in our bodies is thrown off and we enter a state of oxidative stress. This most often occurs due to reduced antioxidant intake in food, impaired endogenous antioxidant systems, or psychological and physical stress leading to increased formation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen compounds.

A healthy diet with a high content of antioxidants has been shown to be very important, even having been proven to reduce the risk of developing cancer as well as cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. But research has also suggested that consumption of individual antioxidants such as vitamin C and E can have the opposite, antioxidant effect. Ultimately, this all stems back to the undeniable fact that a healthy lifestyle includes a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.


Recipe, preparation and price

 

 

Quantity (g or ml)

Price for 4 person (EUR)

Soup

 

 

Tatar buckwheat

60

0,90

Salt

2

0,00

Main dish

Onion

90

0,14

Carrots

200

0,26

Eggplant

250

0,31

Green paprika

120

0,36

Olive oil

20

0,12

Salt

2

0,00

Garlic powder

0,5

0,10

Peanut butter

20

0,17

Chickpea flour

30

0,21

Side dish

Instant polenta

220

0,15

Salt

2

0,00

Salat

Radicchio

200

0,32

Olive oil

10

0,06

Pumpkin oil

10

0,17

Salt

1

0,00

Sunflower seeds

30

0,15

Together

3,28

 

Just as the ingredient for this buckwheat soup is simple, so too is the preparation. We cooked the Tartary buckwheat in salted water for 15 minutes and served. Due to the high rutin content, the soup will take on a very nice yellow color, an effect you would not see in using common buckwheat. With the soup on the stove, you are ready to work on the vegetable sauce. We started as usual by slicing our vegetables and cooking them in a pan with a bit of oil. A general rule for cooking vegetables (and the one used here) is that they should be added in from most to least firm, thus allowing each one the right amount of time to cook without others going mushy. The exception here is onion, which is always the first ingredient in order to allow its flavors to really come out.

So, we added onion and carrots, then later eggplant, and finally peppers. Things take a bit of a funky turn now: we next added peanut butter and chickpea flour in order to make the sauce nice and creamy and enhance its nutritional value. If you have someone allergic to peanuts you can always use another nut butter (such as almond) or forgo nuts altogether and use a seed butter (such as pumpkin seed butter, which is a must-try even if you don’t have a nut allergy). We then also sprinkled salt and garlic powder as well as an Indian spice blend known as sambar (though this can be replaced with local spices) to season the dish. In addition to this sauce, we also prepared our polenta by cooking it in salted water.

Our wonderful colleague Nina also brought in radicchio from her garden again, so we used this to make a salad along with oil, salt, sunflower seeds, and fresh parsley that we are growing on one of our windowsills.

The price of our lunch made for 4 people came out to €3.28, which is our lowest price so far on this blog! We actually paid even less than this since we got some of the products homegrown, but we calculated their price in anyway to give you a clearer picture. The lower price this time was due to the use of local foods and the absence of slightly more luxurious items such as asparagus.


Nutritional value

 

With lunch consumed quantity

% from daily needs

Energy

504,56 kcal

25,2

Proteins

12,88 g

23

Total fatts

19,55 g

44,4

Carbohydrates

75,04 g

 

Starch

11,31 g

 

Sugar

8,34 g

 

Fibers

12,23 g

48,9

Calcium (Ca)

62,07 mg

6,2

Iron (Fe)

3,80 mg

38

Magnesium (Mg)

159,74 mg

39,9

Phosphorus (P)

372,37 mg

53,2

Potassium (K)

911,48 mg

45,6

Sodium (Na)

777,27 mg

141,3

Zinc (Zn)

2,72 mg

27,2

Copper (Cu)

0,71 mg

78,6

Manganese (Mn)

1,24 mg

53,9

Selenium (Se)

17,60 µg

35,2

Vitamin A

430,23 µg

43

Vitamin E

6,91 mg

46

Vitamin D

0 µg

0

Vitamin C

34,22 mg

34,2

Thiamin (B1)

0,39 mg

29,9

Riboflavin (B2)

0,27 mg

17,6

Niacin (B3)

5,31 mg

36,6

Pantothenic acid (B5)

1,55 mg

25,9

Vitamin B6

0,59 mg

39

Folic acid (B9)

135,78 µg

33,9

Vitamin B12

0 µg

0

Vitamin K

144,29 µg

206,1

 

For those of you who have been following along with us already, you know that we measure each lunch to cover 25% of the daily caloric requirements for an average person. Ideally, it will also cover the same percentage of all other nutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc). With some of our other lunches, we did not reach the desired amount of selenium; today that is not the case, with as much as 35% of your daily requirement in this meal. We did, however, have a deficit of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and calcium, but these can be supplemented through your other meals in the day. As you’ve come to expect by now and as is typical in vegan eating, vitamins B12 and D were absent. We each also got 12.9g of protein from this lunch, with about a third coming from the polenta (4.5g) followed by Tartary buckwheat (1.8g), chickpea flour (1.7g), sunflower seeds (1.4g), and peanut butter (1.2g), while other foods contained less than a gram of proteins. For a more precise view of our nutritional calculations, you can click on the nutritional values table.

Wishing you a yummy week!

The Hungry Pumpkin Team.

PS: If you have questions about today’s lunch, its nutritional value, or if you have suggestions for future lunches then you can send us an email at hungry.pumpkin.blog@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!


Further reading:

Our research on tartary buckwheat:

About the flavour:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1750-3841.2012.02778.x

About the antioxidants:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ivan_Kreft/publication/312927395_Determination_of_fagopyrins_rutin_and_quercetin_in_Tartary_buckwheat_products/links/5b2e5eed4585150d23c73d72/Determination-of-fagopyrins-rutin-and-quercetin-in-Tartary-buckwheat-products.pdf?source=publication_detail

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