Ancient Grains: Full of History & Nutrients

Ancient grains make a great side dishes, and meatless meals.  Ancient grains, as the title describes, have been around a long time, though some varieties are new to many Americans. 

We group them all together in our minds, though some originate from broad leaf plants such as amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa. Happy Independence Day!  Enjoy the day off, grill healthy foods, play flag-football & recharge your batteries!

The grouping of ancient grains is known to help in preventing cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure.  When eaten as a whole grain, many are high in fiber.  Though their calories totals can be moderate, portion control allows you to receive the rewards from these nutritional powerhouses.

Quinoa has blasted on the scene and is found more frequently in mainstream grocery stores and restaurant menus.  It is grown in South America.  The Inca’s considered it the “Mother of All Grains”.  It provides high levels of complete proteins and is rich in iron, phosphorus and potassium.  It cooks in only 15 minutes, but should be rinsed before cooking to wash off its naturally bitter coating.  I add it to my morning oatmeal, add 2 ounces to my salad at lunch and it blends with any flavor for dinner.

Amaranth is high in protein and includes calcium, folic acid, magnesium and potassium.  Traditionally eaten as porridge, it can be sprinkled on salads, added to baked goods or added to side dish and it’s cooked like rice.

Farro is full of fiber, iron, magnesium, niacin, and zinc.  It can be served as a component of salads, side dishes, baked goods or meatless entrees. I recently added a delicious BLT farro recipe you should try.

Buckwheat is not actually wheat! It’s a flour (called groats when in whole form) used in pancakes and sobo noodles that provides calcium, iron, manganese, potassium, and zinc.  If using the groats whole, follow package directions to achieve a tasty addition for salads or side dishes.

Sorghum, which used in many African dishes is high in fiber, niacin, and phosphorous.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations, at least half of all grains eaten each day should be whole.  Adding these grains into your baked goods, cereal, salads and dinner entrees is a great way to meet those recommendations.

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