With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you may be wondering what to do for your special someone. While I’m not into all the Hallmark holiday stuff, sharing a special meal prepared with love is something I can get behind. Of course it doesn’t hurt if it’s wholesome, yet indulgent…and includes chocolate.
So my friends, I give you easy-peasy, gluten-free chocolate waffles. Simple ingredients and one bowl preparation mean you won’t be running all over town or spending long hours in the kitchen to make an impressive and tasty dish come Saturday morning…or afternoon, you know, whenever you get around to it.
Soak those groats: a word on phytic acid
This recipe calls for soaked buckwheat. Why the soak, you ask? Soaking improves the texture of the batter, increases nutrients, improves digestibility and neutralizes phytic acid (also called phytate).
Phytic acid can be found at high levels in grains, nuts and legumes. When ingested, phytic acid can bind to, or chelate important minerals—such as phosphorus, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium—preventing absorption. In case you were wondering, phytic acid does not leach minerals from the body, only minerals from foods where phytic acid is present.
To make matters worse phytic acid can inhibit enzymes (pepsin, amylase and trypsin) needed for digesting protein and starch. The amount of phytic acid in foods can also vary widely depending on growing, storage, processing and harvesting conditions. In fact, foods grown with modern fertilizers high in phosphorus can have much higher levels.
Nature has your back
Also present in most grains, nuts and legumes (but not all – more on that in a moment) is the enzyme phytase. Soaking activates phytase, which neutralizes the phytic acid, thereby aiding digestion and mineral absorption.
Some grains—such as oatmeal, brown rice, corn and millet—do not contain enough phytase to neutralize phytic acid. Phytase is also easily destroyed by heat, so commercially ground flours may no longer contain the enzyme. To get around this, you can combine a small portion of a phytase-containing grain, such as buckwheat, to neutralize the phytic acid.
5 Ways to Reduce Phytic Acid:
- Acidic pH – add a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the soaking liquid.
- Warmer soaking temperature (under 130º F) – start with warm water and keep in a warm place.
- Soaking time – aim for 8-12 hours, 24 for beans.
- Add high phytase foods to low phytase foods – add a little buckwheat to your soaking oats.
- Freshly ground flour – buy fresh, stone-ground flours or grind your own in a dedicated coffee grinder.
Knowing this, you can combine the above techniques depending on the recipe and situation and feel comfortable knowing that you are making your food that much more nutritious. An added—and perhaps more important—benefit is that soaked grains and legumes cook faster.
That said, don’t go getting all stressed out if you forget to soak your buckwheat overnight – even an hour is better than nothing. Soak when you can, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying your food. After all, that’s really what it’s all about.
Don’t Skimp on the Toppings!
Now with that scientific bit out of the way, I must mention the most important part of this recipe—the toppings. Seriously, the toppings are what take waffles from ho-hum Sunday morning to Wowza! Let your imagination be your guide. Here are a few to get you started:
Coconut Cream (from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk)
Coconut Oil or Ghee
Crumbled Pastured Bacon
Maple Syrup (duh)
Sliced Raw/Roasted Fruit (apples, banana, peaches, etc.)
Do ya feel me? Pick a few, load them up and, most importantly, eat chocolate for breakfast! How are you decking out your waffles?
 Haas, Elson M. and Levin, Buck. Staying Healthy with Nutrition: the Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition. New York: Ten Speed Press, 2006, p 325, Print
 Tannenbaum and others. Vitamins and Minerals in Food Chemistry, 2nd edition. OR Fennema, ed. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, 1985, p 445
 Singh M and Krikorian D. Inhibition of trypsin activity in vitro by phytate. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 1982 30(4):799-800.
 Srivastava BN and others. Influence of Fertilizers and Manures on the Content of Phytin and Other Forms of Phosphorus in Wheat and Their Relation to Soil Phosphorus. Journal of the Indian Society of Soil Science. 1955 III:33-40.