Despite its name, buckwheat is a seed from a plant related to rhubarb. Buckwheat does not contain gluten and according to the Celiac Disease Foundation may be safely consumed by individuals with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Address any concerns about cross contamination with the manufacturer or distributor of specific products.
Hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant are called groats and make a nice hot cereal. Buckwheat flour is ground buckwheat. Light buckwheat flour is made from hulled buckwheat seeds and dark buckwheat flour includes the hulls.
Buckwheat ranks low on the glycemic index. It is also high in fiber, protein, niacin, amino acids, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and calcium and is a complete protein. Research points to various health benefits including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
I use buckwheat flour as a 1:1 substitute for all-purpose flour in baked goods such as cakes and cookies. Buckwheat flour does have a strong flavor. Using half buckwheat flour and half of a flour with a more neutral flavor will help with this.
Read labels of commercial products containing buckwheat flour carefully. Soba noodles and buckwheat pancake mixes often include wheat flour as well.
I hope you will get to know buckwheat. It can be a good way to add variety and fiber to your diet.