I’m amazed at the number of recipes that call for ancient grains in the latest magazines, blogs and newspapers. And I love how many of these ancient grains show ups as “new” in the local grocery store. Wonderful grains that are becoming more readily available – not just at health food stores any more.
Certainly there are well known grains like traditional wheat being used in new ways, but there are also inventive ways people are using ancient grains like Millet, Bulgur Wheat, Quinoa and Farro.
Here is some surprising and interesting information on ancient grains. Along with a few pictures of how I work them in to our diet at the Heikenfeld home.
100% Whole wheat pasta vs regular pasta - whole wheat products have only the chaff removed and leave the bran (outer shell w/fiber and B vitamins), endosperm (protein, starch, vitamins and minerals) and germ (seed w/B vitamins, protein, minerals and healthy oils) intact. Your body absorbs whole wheat products slowly for a fuller feeling and you won’t get a spike in carbs.
Ancient Grain – Bulgur Wheat:
My go to wheat for my mother’s Tabouleh recipe. Also great in other salads, soups, breads. Soak in cold water to reconstitute for salads.
Ancient Grain – Millet:
This wheat /gluten free grain is what you find in bird seed! But it’s a staple grain in India and China. Pearled millet is grown here for human consumption. It’s high in protein as wheat plus B vitamins, calcium, and iron, among other nutrients. You can substitute millet for rice. I like to add it to breads and muffins. To cook, simmer 1/2 cup millet in 1-1/2 cups liquid. It takes about 20 minutes to cook.
Ancient Grain – Quinoa:
Called the Mother Grain. Can be tan, red, purple or black. Most needs to be rinsed before cooking to remove a bitter residue called saponins, which is a plant defense coating that wards off insects. It is a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids our bodies can’t make on their own. It also contains flu fighting zinc. Cook like rice: 2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa. When it’s cooked, you’ll see little squiggly tails – that’s the germ ring separating from the grain. Delicious mixed with vegetables and vinaigrette in salads, or added to soups and stews.
Ancient Grain – Farro:
It’s an ancient type of wheat that has a high protein and fiber content and a nutty, chewy texture, similar to barley. It’s a delicious alternative to regular pasta. Cook just like pasta in salted boiling water. Tastes a bit like barley and is a good substitute for it.
I use pearled farro, which cooks faster than semi pearled, regular farro.