I Tried Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Flour — Here's Why It Deserves A Place In Your Pantry
At mindbodygreen, we're always keeping our eyes peeled for the latest super-nutritious ingredient to add to our repertoire. Fortunately, we work with so many knowledgeable experts who are always at the cutting edge of innovations and discoveries in the nutrition world, such as Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., the founder of Big Bold Health who is fondly known as the "Father of Functional Medicine."
As mbg's health director, I work with Bland and his team on a regular basis, and I'm always eager to hear his insights on an array of health and well-being topics. So when I first heard him rave about a new "super ingredient" he's working with, I was immediately intrigued. The star food: Himalayan tartary buckwheat.
What is Himalayan tartary buckwheat?
Himalayan tartary buckwheat (or HTB, for short) is a sibling of the buckwheat plant. Contrary to what the name may imply, this crop is a seed, not a grain—and, interestingly enough, it's closer to the rhubarb and sorrel family of vegetables than wheat. As such, it's gluten-free, rich in phytonutrients, and contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. "It's high in complete proteins, and it's high in prebiotic fiber, for a healthy microbiome," Bland tells mindbodygreen. In fact, it has twice as much protein as quinoa.
Where HTB is particularly unique, however, is its resilience and ability to grow amid challenging circumstances. "Himalayan Tartary buckwheat goes back centuries in the Chinese diet," says Bland. "It's a plant that survived despite the harsh growing conditions of its Himalayan mountain valleys. It survived by producing a portfolio of unique compounds that became the stress-fighting immune system of the plant itself."
HTB has a slightly bitter taste, but that's a sign of its benefits, according to Bland. "A hearty plant produces the tools it needs to survive in harsh conditions," such as bitterness, he explains. "And those phytonutrients deliver powerful benefit to whoever eats them."
Benefits of HTB.
Clearly this species of buckwheat has an impressive nutrient portfolio—which is why Bland calls it a "powerhouse for nutrition." Here are a few highlights of this unique super-plant that really stand out to me:
It has immune-supporting properties.
It may promote brain health.
It's full of important vitamins and minerals.
The unique plant also contains D-chiro-inositol, a molecule involved in blood sugar regulation and hormone balance in our bodies.
My experience with HTB flour.
After hearing Bland speak so highly of Himalayan tartary buckwheat and reading some of the research supporting this unique nutrient powerhouse3, I was very eager to give it a try. So when Bland's team at Big Bold Health sent a sample of their new Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Super Nutrition Flour—I couldn't wait to start cooking with it.
This small-batch artisanal flour is milled and packaged in upstate New York, and it's the world's first-ever certified organic, U.S.-grown harvest of Himalayan tartary buckwheat. As mentioned, part of the reason this buckwheat is so abundant in nutrients is due to its harsh growing conditions—which is why Big Bold Health strategically worked with a co-op of farmers based in northern regions, where it gets very cold.
After the 2-pound bags of this unique flour arrived at my door—packaged oh-so-nicely and sealed with a tight weave of red string—I quickly looked into different ways to use this novel ingredient. The Big Bold Health team sent me an array of delicious-sounding recipes, and I opted for buckwheat pancakes (from Mark Hyman, M.D.) as my first trial run. These easy-to-make pancakes were filled with some of my favorite ingredients and spices—plus, I loved topping them with berries and a drizzle of nut butter for extra flavor, texture, and nutrients. I also tried out a recipe for almond and tartary buckwheat muffins, an awesome meal-prep option that left me with nutritious snacks for days.
The verdict: Both of these healthy dishes were very tasty, and I would absolutely make them again. They had a rich, hearty flavor—and were fantastic meals to start the day or get a little boost of nutrition midafternoon. As someone who is acutely aware of how certain foods affect my energy levels, focus, and overall sense of well-being—I was very impressed by how satiated I felt for hours after noshing on these recipes, without those nasty feelings of a blood sugar spike or crash.
Unlike some gluten-free flours that get really dense in baking projects, the HTB flour maintained a light, fluffy texture in these classic dishes. Plus, the pancakes in particular had a gorgeous deep maroon hue that added a bit of visual joy to the whole experience. It's worth noting that both of these recipes use a combination of almond flour and Himalayan tartary buckwheat, to balance out the slight bitterness of the HTB flour.
After giving it a try myself, I can't wait to experiment with all the unique ways I can use this powerhouse ingredient in my own cooking and make it a more regular part of my well-being routine. Because, as Bland previously shared with mbg: "I've come to think of superfoods as nature's delivery mechanism for the right balance of macronutrients and a powerhouse blend of micro- and phytonutrients. A true superfood should cover all the bases, and that's what a plant like Himalayan tartary buckwheat does."
Kristine is a writer, editor, and editorial consultant who lives in Long Beach, CA. Kristine is a New York University graduate with a degree in journalism and psychology, and also a NASM-certified personal trainer. She has spent her editorial career focused on health and well-being, and formerly worked for Women’s Health and Health. Her byline has also appeared in Men’s Health, Greatist, Refinery29, HGTV, and more. In her current role she oversees, edits, and writes for the health, food, and movement sections of mindbodygreen.