Here's a list of 10 healthy, gluten-free whole grains. If you suffer from celiac disease or have been avoiding gluten for a long time for another reason, chances are you are already familiar with some of the grains listed below (such as millet, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, wild rice and brown rice).
However, we've also included some less common gluten-free grains (and pseudograins) such as teff, Job's tears (aka Asian Pearl Barley or Hato Mugi), canihua, and sorghum (aka Milo).
Sorghum, also known as milo, is a small, typically yellow or red cereal grain with a texture similar to that of pearled barley. Whole grain sorghum is packed with iron and phosphorus, but it is also a good source of potassium, antioxidants, thiamin and niacin, and a fair source of protein. Whole grain sorghum can be popped like popcorn, cooked into porridge, added to pilafs and cold salads, or ground into flour and used in breads and other baked goods.
2. Common Millet
Pearl millet, also known as common millet, is a small, round grain popular in India, China, South America, and the Himalayas. It is a great source of magnesium, but it also provides plenty of other minerals as well as some B vitamins and protein. It can be used in everything from breads and polenta to breakfast porridges and desserts. You can also use millet to thicken soups and stews by throwing in some rinsed whole grain millet about 20 to 25 minutes before the end of the expected cooking time. Today, you can you can buy common millet in many large supermarkets.
A member of the same Poaceae family of plants as common millet, teff is sometimes classified as a millet variety. Therefore, not surprisingly, whole grain teff is also a great source of minerals (especially iron and calcium) and some B vitamins. And the best thing is, this gluten-free cereal grain so small that it is almost impossible to refine it, meaning that any teff you buy is likely to be whole grain. Teff's minute seeds – the size of poppy seeds – cook quickly and pair well with a wide range of vegetables, seasonings, meats, and fruits.
Next up on our list of gluten-free grains is amaranth, a staple food of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. Today, both conventionally-grown and certified organic amaranth are readily available in many health food stores. Related to quinoa and kaniwa, this mineral-rich, protein-packed food is actually not really a grain, but rather a seed or a so-called pseudograin. However, since amaranth seeds are used much in the same way as common whole grains – cooked into porridge, used as a thickening agent in soups and stews, or ground into fine flour and used in baked goods – amaranth is usually found in the cereal or grain section of natural food stores. In addition to the uses listed above, amaranth seeds – just like sorghum seeds.
5. Buckwheat Groats
Despite its name, buckwheat (also known as beech wheat) is not related to wheat. In fact, it is not even a grain! Just like amaranth, quinoa and kaniwa, buckwheat is technically a gluten-free seed or pseudograin, even though it is commonly sold as a grain. If you can get used to its distinctive earthy flavor, buckwheat is definitely worth adding to your food repertoire: it is a source of high-quality protein and, along with quinoa, one of the best sources of antioxidants among pseudocereals.
6. Wild Rice
Wild rice (also called Indian rice, Canada rice, and water oats) is the nutty, chewy seed of an aquatic grass originally harvested by indigenous tribes around the Great Lakes. Today, most of the 'wild rice' you find in the shops is actually from hybridized cultivars grown in rice paddies in Minnesota and California, but 100% true wild rice is also available in some specialty shops. Whether wild harvested or cultivated, the price tag for this black gourmet rice can be pretty hefty.
7. Job's Tears
Available in many Asian supermarkets, Job's Tears (also called Asian Pearl Barley, Hato Mugi and Adlay) is a heirloom grain used in soups and as a side dish in Asian countries. Hato Mugi flour is also used in beverages and as a baking ingredient, Despite its name, Job's Tears is not closely related to barley, and true Job's Tears does not naturally contain gluten. However, just like other grains, it may have been cross-contaminated if processed in facilities that also handle wheat or other gluten-containing grains. To be on the safe side, look for a certified gluten-free label on the packaging.
8-9. Quinoa and Kaniwa
No list of healthy gluten-free grains is complete without quinoa and kaniwa! In the US and UK, quinoa is hailed as a supefood thanks to its extremely high levels of minerals, B vitamins, high-quality protein and antioxidants. Kaniwa (also spelled canihua) is a close relative of quinoa and equally rich in nutrients. Cooked whole grain quinoa is great in salads and soups, while quinoa flour can be used as a substitute for wheat flour in cake, pancake and cookie recipes.
10. Brown Rice
Although brown rice isn't as rich in nutrients as most of the other gluten-free grains listed above, it does provide some magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, and B vitamins, and it is definitely a healthier choice than white rice. Furthermore, adding this inherently gluten-free grain to your shopping list every now and then also helps keep your diet varied which, as you know, is a key part of healthy eating.