Amazing Ancient Grains!

Roasted Summer Vegetable and Farro Salad

The benefits of ancient grains are numerous! Filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they are mainly popular in China, India, Africa, and the Middle East. The definition of an ancient grain is a group of grains and pseudocereals (seeds that are consumed like grains) that have remained mostly unchanged for thousands of years. They are gaining immense popularity in most kitchens across the U.S. because they are less processed and more nutritious than corn, rice, and modern wheat. Spice up your summer with these grains in salads, breads, side dishes and more!

 

Flax Seed

Flax Seed
via Pixabay

Filled with healthy omega-3 fats, fiber and unique plant compounds, flax seeds are small oil seeds that hail from the Middle East. You can find them sold whole, ground or milled, or roasted. Though they are 29% carbohydrates, a whopping 95% of that is fiber! This makes them ideal for those aiming to hit their 25 grams of fiber per day. Enjoy flax seed in store-bought or homemade breads, pancakes, crackers, added to granola, energy bites or bars, brownies, muffins and more!

Try This: Peach, Flax Seed and Walnut Oatmeal

Flaxseed Oatmeal

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Amaranth

Amaranth
via Public Domain Pictures

A staple in Inca, Maya and Aztec civilizations that is making a major comeback! This grain is a pseudocereal, meaning it is not technically a cereal grain like wheat or oats but can be used similarly. It has an earthy, nutty flavor, it is rich in fiber, protein and other micronutrients like manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. There are 9.3 grams of protein in one cup of cooked amaranth, making it an excellent option for those looking for more plant-based protein. Amaranth can be used in patties, breakfast porridge, and is an excellent crunchy component in homemade granola bars and breads!

Try This: Raw Chocolate Amaranth Bars

Amaranth Chocolate Bars

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Farro

Farro
via Flickr

Fiber, proteins, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, oh my! Farro is a superfood wheat grain that goes as far back as ancient Mesopotamia. The term “farro” describes 3 types of grains: einkorn, emmer and spelt, the most popular of which in the U.S. is emmer. Sold dry, it is very much like rice in the way it cooks in water and expands until soft and chewy although more fibrous. Enjoy farro in stews, salads, soups, or mix with fruit and cream as you would granola!

Try This: Roasted Summer Vegetable Farro Salad

Roasted Summer Vegetable and Farro Salad

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Bulgur

Bulgur Wheat
via Wikimedia Commons

An edible cereal grain made from dried, cracked wheat, durum has a consistency similar to couscous or quinoa. It is the entire wheat kernel, which makes it very high in fiber – over 30% of your Recommended Daily Intake in 1 cup! It’s also lower in calories than brown rice or quinoa, making it a great diet-friendly alternative in a variety of dishes. You can enjoy it sweet as we see in breakfast bulgur or savory like bulgur pilaf!

Try This: Green Peas and Bulgur With Fresh Herbs, Feta and Garlic

Bulgur Peas

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Quinoa

Quinoa
via Pixabay

Quinoa is one of our favorite super foods for a number of reasons. An edible seed that fluffs up when cooked in water, you can use it as an alternative to rice, in veggie burgers, as you would oatmeal and beyond. It does an amazing job of taking on the flavors it is paired with – from Italian to Mediterranean to Latin! Just 1 cup contains 8 grams of protein, making it an excellent choice for those seeking more plant-based protein in their diet.

Try This: Kale and Quinoa Patties

Quinoa Patties

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Millet

Millet
via NeedPix

Another stellar alternative to rice, this one is gluten free! A cereal grain that is a part of the grass family, it has a similar texture to mashed potatoes or steamed rice when cooked. It is divided into 2 categories, major and minor. The majors are pearl, foxtail, proso (or white) and finger (or ragi). The minors are Kodo, barnyard, little, Guinea, browntop, fonio and adlay (or Job’s tears). Pearl millet is the most common, but all boast a similar nutritional profile. Rich in complex carbs, it also backs several vitamins and minerals, mainly phosphorus, magnesium, folate and iron.

Try This: Millet and Tomatoes

Millet and Tomatoes

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Sorghum

Sorghum
via NeedPix

Gluten free and filled with complex carbohydrates, protein and a long list of vitamins and minerals, sorghum is one dense food. With 316 calories in one half cup, starting your morning with sorghum will help you power through the day while keeping you fuller longer. Small and round, sorghum is usually white or yellow, with red, brown, black or purple varieties available through exotic retailers. Coming from Africa, Australian, India and other Southeastern Asian countries, this food is typically used in many of the same ways you would use rice.

Try This: Sorghum Berry Breakfast Bowl

Sorghum Berry Breakfast Bowl

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Barley

Barley
Barley via MaxPixel

Used in breads, beverages, stews and other dishes, barley is a whole grain that provides fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is available hulled or pearled, with hulled barley being minimally processed to remove the inedible outer shell, while pearled barley has neither the hull nor the bran. It expands to 3 ½ times its volume when cooked, so it doesn’t take much to fill you up! A regular serving size is 1 half cup which contains 325 calories, 11 grams of protein, 115 grams of carbs, of which 16 are fiber. That same half cup contains 14% of your recommended daily intake of iron, a nutrient too many of us fail to get enough of! With a chewy consistency and slightly nutty flavor, it complements a variety of flavors, most notably fresh herbs and warm spices like curry.

Try This: Warm Barley and Caramelized Mushroom Salad

Barley and Tomato Salad

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Wild Rice

Wild RIce
via Flickr

Wild rice is not actually a true rice, but a species of grass. It has less calories than brown rice, with 40% more protein. It is rich in antioxidants and is a colorful and delicious alternative to white rice. Grown mainly in the Great Lakes region, it has a firm texture with nutty flavor that is low in calories (166 calories in 1 cup of cooked wild rice) for being such a complex carbohydrate. Such a dense food will provide long lasting energy throughout the day, with 7 grams of plant-based protein too!

Try This: Broccoli & Cheese Wild Rice Casserole

Broccoli and Cheese Wild Rice Casserole

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August 12, 2020