Have you been confused and bewildered about the two products, especially when looking for a cereal in your food market? I have and I am so weary of reading the packages to see what grains the products offer, if they are gluten free or not, and how to prepare them, that I finally did some research on the Kasha Kashi interpretations. Hopefully this article will be of some use for any other dazed readers. Do know that they are distinguishable. . .eventually.
Buckwheat in Both
Since buckwheat is a gluten free seed (not a grain) and most people who enjoy gluten free food search for buckwheat products such as buckwheat flour, it is natural to notice a cereal that has buckwheat in it. Both kashi and kasha have buckwheat in them.
The difference is that kasha has buckwheat groats (hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant). Unfortunately the word “kasha” doesn’t just refer to buckwheat groats. It refers to all things porridge - you know, a meal created by boiling grains or beans or oats or seeds in water or milk and adding whatever (fruit, honey, sugar) to make it delicious. This makes the two even more confusing because Kasha isn’t just buckwheat groats! Granted, you can find it readily available, but you still have to check the ingredients to make sure it’s not buckwheat groats and or something else like it is in Slavic countries.
In the USA, kasha is usually buckwheat groats. There are many buckwheat kasha recipes online and on the packages they come in.
Whole Grain Cereal
Kashi recipes from the Kashi company are clearly advrtised as a whole grain experience. In fact there are seven whole grains represented and yet there are 8 items listed:
- Buckwheat (described as a seed)
- Hard Red Wheat
- Brown Rice
- Sesame (seeds). I think buckwheat is considered a whole grain, as it is
in kasha. That is really unclear, but I suppose whole grains can include seeds.
Each of the ingredients in the Kashi cereals like Kashi Go Lean Crunch are considered a unique blend that brings health to the eater.
Historically kasha can mean a meal prepared with any grain like buckwheat (there it is again called a grain), millet, barley, rice or oats. Kasha is associated with Russia, as it was introduced there in 1239 and was very well received because it is versatile, easy to cook, and serves many. Kasha nutrition is filled with vitamins and minerals that our bodies love.
It’s All In A Name
Fun fact name backgrounds of the two are worth mentioning. Kashi actually is Japanese for puffed rice. However the Kashi company founders named it as a bit of a combination of kashruth (kosher) and Kushi (last name of the macrobiotics founders. Their website says that in Russian kashi means porridge! Whoa, see why this is so confusing?
The main definition I have read of kasha is porridge. One encyclopedia refers to it as a cereal or cereal grain, etc. This is referring to Eastern Europe, in English kasha is generally known as buckwheat.
So, my shortcut in looking for a gluten free meal is to look for kasha and glance at the ingredients, just to be sure.