Activated Buckwheat Bircher

Buckwheat is one of those contested Paleo items.  Some love it.  Some love to hate it.  It’s not a grain; it’s a seed, and while it contains no gluten, it does contain phytic acid which means that like other seeds (and nuts and legumes) it should be properly soaked or sprouted before consumption.  Unlike most seeds however, buckwheat has a naturally high level of phytase, which means it can help break down the phytic acid itself if you just put it in some filtered water overnight (see here- steps 1 and 2).  It’s definitely not on Mark Sisson’s menu though, as buckwheat has a fairly high level of starch, but that’s precisely why I’m introducing it to my diet.

Activated Buckwheat Bircher

Activated Buckwheat Bircher

I’ve been feeling really ‘low’ lately – ear infections have gotten the better of me in recent weeks, but even before that, I haven’t had lots of energy in a while, and I’m wondering if it’s because my diet is quite low-carb (other than the occasional run in with a pack of organic salted corn chips).  In addition to the buckwheat, I plan to eat a little white rice (not brown, as brown rice still has the bran on which is a GI irritant and anti-nutrient – only just learned that today – see this Chris Kresser podcast transcript – and scroll down to the section on “properly prepared grains”) and sweet potato and see if they help my energy levels.  No, I don’t plan to eat them all in one day; one serve of one of these and maybe two on the days where I’m particularly active, and see what happens.  Low carb doesn’t work for everyone, and I’m wondering if perhaps it doesn’t work so well for me.  I really like Chris Kresser’s idea of a Paleo template and writing my own rules (within a Paleo framework) based on what I find works best.

To take much of the hassle out of activating/soaking your buckwheat, keep an eye out for activated (soaked and dried) buckwheat groats.  You’ll pay a bit more for them, but it’s certainly more straight forward than DIY.  My local grocer is awesome and stocks lots of activated nuts and seeds, including buckwheat.  You can also order plain and flavoured activated “buckinis” from Loving Earth.  I’ve tested this recipe using both pre-activated and home soaked (24 hr) buckwheat.  There was no difference discernible to me; DIY just takes longer as you need to allow more prep time (2 days rather than overnight).

I was initially going to make my Bircher with coconut milk, but raw milk was on special, so I’ve used that instead (I haven’t had raw milk in months … god its good.. and it contains lactase which helps breakdown lactose and I find I tolerate it really well).

This recipe works out to be about 1.5 breakfast serves for me.  Feel free to play around with quantities and ingredients – there are no set rules for this, other than make sure you cover all your ingredients with milk and let them soak overnight.


  • 1/2 cup activated buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup raw milk (you can use any milk you’d like, but raw milk or yoghurt will help break down any remaining phytic acid in the buckwheat and in the other seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon dried goji berries (this is just what I had to hand, use any other dried fruit you have, chopped apricots, cranberries, raisins, blueberries)
  • 1 tablespoon activated sunflower seeds (again, use whatever you have, pumpkin, chopped walnuts or almonds)
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flakes
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2-3 prunes or 1-2 dates, chopped
  • 1 small apple, grated


Combine buckwheat, goji, coconut, flax and sunflower seeds in a bowl and pour over the milk until the dry ingredients are just covered (this will be about 1/2 – 3/4 cup).  Cover the container and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Next morning, prior to serving, sprinkle on 1/4 – 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (no harm in adding this the night before too), then mix in the chopped prunes or dates and the grated apple.   You can add some more milk if you think it’s looking a bit dry (mix it around first though as there’s often a pool of milk at the bottom of the bowl).

You can also serve the bircher topped with fresh berries or poached fruits instead of or in addition to the apple.  I often leave out the apple as it’s a bit of a hassle to grate, especially if you’re in a hurry, and I don’t really love the taste/texture that much.  If I leave out the apple, I add an extra tablespoon of coconut flakes; I like to have something fibrous in there as I prefer the texture to be it a bit chewy.

Voila! you have breakfast.  Enjoy. 🙂

Buckwheat Bircher Dry Ingredients

Buckwheat Bircher Dry Ingredients

Buckwheat Bircher Milk Added - allow to soak in overnight.  If you find its a little dry the next morning, you can add a little more milk before eating.

Buckwheat Bircher Milk Added – allow to soak overnight. If you find it’s a little dry the next morning, you can add a little more milk before eating.

Buckwheat Bircher Prune, Apple, Cinnamon.  Fruits are optional and you can substitute with berries or dates etc

Buckwheat Bircher with Prunes, Apple and Cinnamon prior to mixing in. Fruits are optional and you can substitute berries or dates.

Other buckwheat recipes I’d like to try