What you should be eating every day instead of bread, rice, pasta or potatoes!

If you’re kefirising in order to get on top of a skin condition or autoimmune disorder, we recommend eating “good grains” to help support the action of the kefir inside your system.

What’s a good grain?

Let’s start by examining what’s NOT a good grain. In a word – wheat.

I know, it’s bad news, but unfortunately, wheat – which we put into just about everything – is a bad grain. This is true for two reasons:

  1. Wheat contains gluten. Gluten is a nasty allergen that will trigger your skin condition and IBS.
  2. Wheat is high-GI, which means that it is burned into sugar very rapidly inside your system.

What does high-GI mean?

Everything your body eats is turned into sugar, or glucose. The question is how fast this happens.

Think of your body as a fireplace, and your food as fuel. High-GI (Glycemic Index) foods are converted to sugar very quickly inside your system, like burning newspaper in a fireplace.When you burn paper it flares rapidly, then disappears. This is exactly what happens when you eat high-GI foods like bread, pasta, rice and white potatoes. Your system releases a huge wave of insulin to deal with the sudden wave of sugar, and this insulin wave damages your microbiome.

Over time, this continual peak-and-drop of insulin will give you type 2 diabetes, as your insulin system gets exhausted.

So to protect those hard-working bugs inside your system, that you’re boosting with your daily dose of kefir, you want to eat foods that are low-GI. Low-GI foods burn slowly inside your system – like burning solid wood in your fireplace, instead of loads of paper. This slow-burning food releases a constant trickle of sugar, which keeps your microbiome ticking along nicely without damaging it.

This means that bread and pasta made with wheat, (as well as rice and white potatoes, because they’re also high-GI) are off the menu while you kefirise and get your issues under control.

The problem is that here in the west, we are absolutely addicted to wheat, and we put it into everything!

Other cultures around the world do a better job than we do on this count. They tend to consume more different kinds of grains. The Russians eat buckwheat for breakfast, and call it kasha. (Despite it’s name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, and is a great example of a good grain – low-GI and gluten-free.) The Japanese make their soba noodles out of buckwheat. Amaranth is consumed regularly in Africa, Indonesia, China and India – but few of us in the UK have even heard of it!

So we’ve taken one grain, wheat – that’s not very good for us – and used it exclusively in almost everything we eat. We’re going to have to push those grain boundaries out a bit, and adopt some better grain choices from our neighbours around the world.

What are these good grains?

Oatmeal

This is the old classic, but it’s as good as food gets. Low-GI and gluten-free, as well as being anti-inflammatory. A bowl of porridge in the morning in the perfect breakfast, especially if you add a spoonful of coconut oil, a handful of blueberries. Oatmeal itself is gluten-free. If you’re coeliac, it’s worth dishing out the extra money for gluten-free oatmeal, but all this means is that it’s been grown in an exclusion zone where no bird can drop a seed of anything other than oatmeal, thus avoiding gluten contamination.

Buckwheat

Despite it’s name, this gluten-free, low-GI beauty is not related to wheat! While most people think of buckwheat as a whole grain, it’s actually a seed that is high in both protein and fibre. It supports heart and heart health and can help prevent diabetes and digestive disorders. In fact, buckwheat seeds, also called “groats,” are so packed with nutrients and antioxidants that they are often called “superfoods.”Commonly eaten as roasted buckwheat groats, you can go with sweet or savoury toppings to this nutty-tasting grain. To cook dried buckwheat groats, rinse them well and then combine with water on the stovetop in a 2:1 ratio, so two cups of water for every one cup of buckwheat. Simmer them on low for about 20 minutes, checking to see when they are plump and their texture is what you’re looking for. If they aren’t absorbing all the water and appear to become mushy, try straining some of the water out (some people prefer to use only 1.5 cups of water to one cup of buckwheat to prevent this from happening).

Amaranth

Amaranth is a native crop in Peru, and it’s grown in Africa, India, China, Russia, South America and North America. The grain is gaining popularity today because of its startling health benefits. It’s a great source of protein, reduces inflammation, improves bone health, lowers cholesterol, fights diabetes, aids digestive health and promotes weight loss. When cooking amaranth grain, use the ratio of 1 1/2 cups water to 1/2 cup amaranth. Heat the mixture in a small saucepan until it begins to boil. Then reduce the heat and let it simmer, uncovered, until the water is absorbed. This typically takes about 20 minutes.

Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a 7,000 year old grain that originated in the mountainous regions of South America. Quinoa has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years due to its significant nutrition and health benefits. Quinoa is high in protein, gluten-free, a great source of fibre, antioxidant, good for heart health and weight loss, a nutritious superfood, helps prevent cancer and diabetes, fights disease, and is very plain tasting, so is very versatile. To cook quinoa, you need 1 cup of uncooked quinoa to 2 cups of liquid. Bring quinoa and liquid to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Millet

If you think millet sounds like bird food, you’re not alone! While widely referred to as a grain, millet is actually a seed. And while birds do love it, it’s easy to see why humans choose it, too. It’s naturally gluten-free, high in fiber and low on the glycemic index, keeping your blood sugar levels stable. It’s also an alkaline food, meaning it’s easily digestible, a good option for those with sensitive stomachs. If you’ve never cooked with millet, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Depending on how it’s cooked, millet recipes can have a creamy texture like mashed potatoes or a fluffier, slightly crunchy one like quinoa or rice. To cook millet, you’ll need 1 cup of raw millet and 2 cups of cooking liquid (water or broth). In a large, dry saucepan, toast the raw millet over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until it turns a rich golden brown and the grains become fragrant. Add the water and and a pinch of sea salt to the pan, stir. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the grains absorb most of the water (they’ll continue soaking it up as they sit), about 15 minutes. Avoid the temptation to peek a great deal or stir too much (unless its sticking to the bottom). Stirring too vigorously will break up the grains and change the texture. Remove from heat and let stand. Like most grains, millet needs a little time off the heat to fully absorb the liquid. Allow it to sit, covered and removed from heat, for 10 minutes. Fluff and Serve!

Think food bowls, not sandwiches

When you’re thinking about grains, think about making a bowl of food. Usually we use wheat products as a base for things, and then we load stuff on top. Bread makes a sandwich, pasta gets sauce on top, pizza dough gets – well, pizza toppings.

The other things we use as bases to fill us up in the UK are commonly jacket potatoes – another bad choice, as large white potatoes burn to sugar inside your system faster than ice cream. We also use rice – not great, as both white rice and brown rice are high-GI, and burn too quickly inside your system as well.

So think about using good grains as a base for your meat, veg and sauce. You can simmer these grains like rice, in some water until the grains are soft and cooked. Then put them into a bowl, (or a tupperware dish if you’re making lunch to take with you!) and layer your chicken, beef, veg and sauces on top. Simples!

46 thoughts on “What you should be eating every day instead of bread, rice, pasta or potatoes!

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  1. Thanks for that – excellent information as I have just started drinking kefir and love it but of course its only as good as the other food you put into your body. All the grains youI introduce will support it. So yes, thanks XX

    1. Hi Andrew – Spelt contains glutens and should not be eaten by anyone who is gluten-sensitive or has celiac disease. Best, Shann

  2. Interesting. I have a question though. In your ‘how to kefirise’ article you state that one should remove all cow products. Would this also apply to RAW milk? I get fresh (never older than 48h) unpasteurised and unhomohensied milk. I’ve seen plenty of evidence that RAW cows milk also contains health gut bacteria!? Thoughts!?

    1. Hi Greg – Yes, we advise that you remove all cow dairy including raw. It is a harmful allergen for most people and trigger for many autoimmine conditions including eczema. Best, Shann

    1. Gluten-free is good, but it also needs to be low-GI! You need to check the glycemic index of the product involved. Best, Shann

  3. Hi Shann
    Thanks for the grains info., I will try this and hopefully stop the bready snacks.
    Would you mind if I used your article about wheat to add to my Healthy Mind & Body section on my wife’s counselling website?

    1. Hi John – Thanks for the info! Yes, feel free to post my article on your wife’s counselling website – Best, Shann

    1. Hi Katie – I’m using sorhgum flour these days, with 1 TBSP of potato starch added in. Delicious flour, and is my favourite guilt-free flour so far! Will be putting up a post soon with a recipe – ; )

  4. Great post Shann, very informative. I only eat quinoa or buckwheat (which aren’t grains anyway), and have cauliflour rice instead of white rice (biriyani made with that is awesome!). I really don’t miss grains at all. Mind you I have been gluten free for years so am used to experimenting 😀.
    Love what you’re doing.

    1. Thanks Roni – sounds like you’re well ahead of the curve with your diet, keep up the good work! Glad you’re enoying the posts – Best, Shann

  5. Hi, I have diaverticulitus, and have read to avoid seeds and nuts, most of the things you suggest are seeds or seed based, any ideas, as to how I can over come this.
    Many Thanks

    1. Hi Mandy – Try working with sorghum flour – nice and smooth. Kefir of course is the best thing for diverticulitis! Best, Shann

  6. This was so helpful I have been gluten free since Last October and never felt better. I sleep better, am not bloated, my aches and pains have gone and I have so much more energy. At the same time I cut out potatoes. I still have the occasional brown rice. I have fallen in love with buckwheat. I make it into porridge and pancakes. Quinoa is also very tasty and versatile. I will certainly be trying the other grains.

    1. Hi Margy – Thanks for getting in touch, great to hear you’ve been having such a good experience with good grains – let me know how you get on! ; ) Best, Shann

  7. Not sure if my first message went. Could you provide any recipe idea’s with these alternative grains please. Would be helpful particularly in convincing the husband! Thank you so much

  8. My teenage girls and I are loving this. We are all Kefir nuts. Forget gadgets, cooking and eating for health has become the no. 1 hobby around here. This fabulously succinct advice is now on my cupboard door as a permanent reminder. Thanks Shann

    PS Despite being a big fan of your goat kefir, what are your thoughts on Kefir made with organic cows milk.

    1. Hi Tania – Fab, thanks for the enthusiasm Tania, please let me know any recipes that particularly work for you! We’re collecting them for the upcoming cookery book. I wouldn’t touch kefir made with cows milk – it’s a nasty allergen and trigger for a lot of autoimmune probolems. Best, Shann

  9. Hi Shann

    I feel a cookery book coming on !! l will be your first customer!
    I have cooked quinoa in water and found it tasteless. Its tastier with low sodium stock and herbs. Will try buckwheat next
    Best wishes
    x

    1. Great stuff Ros, let me know how you get on – I do indeed feel a cookery book simmering, and I want all the kefirisers to contribute their favourite recipes!x

  10. Hi, just started kefirising today 🙂 I will also be trying to cut out the bad grains and potatoes. Should I also avoid using wheat flour to make gravy and sauces? what would be a good replacement?
    Is sweet potato a good replacement rather than white potato? a Sunday dinner won’t be the same without some sort of potato 🙁

    1. Hi Gemma – Never fear, the news is not all bad! ; ) You can have new potatoes and sweet potatoes with your roast dinner. Cornstarch is probably the most readily available ingredient to sub in for flour in your gluten-free gravy—and you probably already have it in your pantry. The only catch is you’ll skip the roux-making process. Once you’ve deglazed your roasting pan and added stock, transfer about 1 cup stock mixture to a medium bowl. Whisk in cornstarch until smooth (you’ll need 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch for every cup of gravy base in the pan). Return slurry to gravy base in roasting pan and whisk over medium-low heat until thickened and smooth. Let me know how you get on! x Shann

  11. Hi Shann, many thanks for all the helpful information. As I’ve suffered lots of attacks of diverticulitis, I’m taking my “Kefirisation” very seriously. The only problems for me is not having bread, so I was delighted to hear about Sorghum flour and look forward to seeing your bread recipe.
    In response to a few of your readers’ comments, perhaps the following will be helpful.
    1. Two gastroenterologists have told me that they had operated on diverticula for 30 odd years and never seen a seed or pip in one, and advised me to continue to eat food containing them.
    2. I like pasta and was very pleased to find, in Waitrose, that you can buy gluten free red lentil pasta and green pea pasta, both only contain lentil and peas.
    I have a question of my own. I’ve started making my own goats milk yoghourt but it is very runny. Apparently, it becomes nice and thick if you add milk powder – the question is, where does one get goats milk powder from. I googled it but was not successful in being able to order any, although it appeared that it was produced.
    Thanks so much for all your encouragement, help and advice.

    1. Hi Annie – Great info, thanks for contributing and helping out your fellow kefirisers! Good luck and keep up the good work – ; ) Best, Shann

  12. I’m experimenting with buckwheat flour to make pizza dough, can I use yeast to leaven it? I am really enjoying the kefir and the effect it’s having on my skin!

    1. Hi Sophie – So glad you’re enjoying the kefir and the effect it’s having on your skin! ; ) Yes, you can use yeast to leaven the dough, let me know how it works – Best, Shann

  13. When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease about 50 years ago, I was advised to avoid milk. More recently, since lactofree cow’s milk has been available in the shops, I have started using it with no obvious ill effects. Is there something else bad about cow’s milk apart from the lactose? I believe goat’s milk does contain less lactose than cow’s milk, but it is not lactofree. I have been using goat’s butter for many years and also cheese made from sheep or goat’s milk. What would you advise me to do?

  14. Hi just starting with the milk I do not eat bread, but like crispbread eg ryvita are they ok and I like a couple of oat biscuits at supper time e.g. Hobnobs what do you suggest

    1. Hi Sandra – Unfortunately, brown rice is nearly high-GI as white rice. Chickpea pasta is fine. Best, Shann

  15. Thanks for this but I have a question, but can we assume 100% buckwheat pasta to also be good as the groats are.

    1. Hi Charles – Buckwheat pasta is a good option – more processed than the groats, but better than wheat pasta. Best, Shann

      1. Another thing, sorry, what about unsweetened almond milk in porridge for breakfast after your 170ml of kefir? Is almond milk safe to drink alongside without counteracting? And oats are ok!?