Ancient grains are making a big comeback, they bring variety, culture and nutrition to the dining table. Barley, Amaranth, Kamut, Farro, Teff, Quinoa all are ancient grains and are gaining popularity all over the world. Now you can find ancient grains incorporated in several products around the store, including cereal, pasta, chips, breads and snack bars. According to figures released by the US Whole Grains Council, sales of kamut rose 686% in the year from July 2013, while sales of spelt rose by 363% and amaranth by 123%. Ancient grains are certainly more nutritious than refined grain products. But healthy whole grains need not be exotic. Common foods like brown rice, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, popcorn, and whole wheat bread offer the same whole grain goodness, and often at lower price points. Some of the ancients grains are as follows:-
- Barley. Barley is a cereal grain that can substitute for rice in many recipes. You can cook it on top of the stove, or in the oven, a rice cooker, covered casserole dish, or slow cooker. It has a slightly nutty taste and adds texture and flavor to soups, stews, salads and side dishes.
- Teff. Teff is super nutritious food, most famous for the high fiber and calcium content and it is also a good source of iron. Just one quarter cup of dry (uncooked) teff has 4 grams of fiber—about 16 percent of your daily value; the calcium content comes in at about 10 percent and iron at about 20 percent. Teff is also high in what’s known as “resistant starch.” As the Whole Grain Council explains, resistant starch is, “a newly-discovered type of dietary fiber that can benefit blood-sugar management, weight control and colon health. It’s estimated that 20-40 percent of the carbohydrates in teff are resistant starches.
- Sorgum. Sorghum is an ancient grain that is a whole grain, and is gluten-free. It remains a staple food in Africa, India and parts of the Middle East and is becoming more popular here. Sorghum has a chewy texture and works well in pilafs and cold salads. If you’re in a snacking mood, you can pop sorghum like popcorn for a healthful, high fiber snack.
- Amaranth. This tiny grain is actually not a grain at all. It resembles grains in nutrition and use, but does not belong to the grain family botanically. This gluten-free seed is a complete protein. Amaranth is perfect for hot cereals, polenta and quick breads. Fun fact: Amaranth can be popped like corn and is often sold this way in South America.
- Quinoa. Quinoa is another “pseudo-grain” native to South America. It is a great substitute for rice or pasta, works well in salads and makes a great hot cereal. It’s also quick-cooking, taking only 10 to 15 minutes to prepare. Like amaranth, quinoa is naturally gluten-free and a complete protein. Quinoa should be rinsed before cooking to remove a bitter residue that occurs naturally on the plant.