Lately, I've been pretty focused on grains. Kind of 'geeking-out' - if you will, LOL!
I have been refining some of the lifestyle changes that I made last year - and eating 'uber-healthy' grains has made it to the top of my list ;)
There are just so many choices available to us today - it feels a bit overwhelming!
So - I committed to the research! It def seemed like the only way!
I am not claiming to have uncovered all there is to know about grains. Just saying I have taken a pretty extensive look at a whole lot of valuable info ;)
I thought that you may be interested in browsing over some of the information I've compiled. So I organized it in a way that makes sense to me (hopefully it will make sense to you too)!
Look it over - and do take a minute to let me know how I did in the comments section, please! ...
Amaranth has been referred to as the "super grain of the Aztecs" and the "golden grain of the gods" - two pretty impressive tributes.
This whole 'grain' is actually a seed, which possesses an exemplary ability to grow rapidly and survive fearlessly in conditions that are much less than ideal.
It is a source of complete protein, gluten-free, and contains all of the essential amino acids. This little powerhouse of nutrition is also high in fiber, and provides a good source of iron and magnesium.
It has an earthy, nutty flavor and is ideal for breadmaking, hot cereal, and polenta.
Amaranth can be popped like popcorn as well. The final product will be smaller than what you are used to, but quite tasty.
Barley can be purchased unprocessed or hulled. When it is unprocessed it takes longer to cook. Hulless barley, or pearled barley, takes only 10 minutes to cook.
Either way it is high in both protein and fiber. It is cholesterol-free and virtually fat-free.
Barley's texture is chewy and it has a nutty flavor.
This grain is most commonly added to soup, but it is delicious when used in a stir-fry or pilaf as well.
Brown rice is simply 'unmilled' white rice; meaning that it has not had the bran and germ removed. This will cause it to spoil quicker than white rice. However, its shelf life is still pretty extensive.
This grain contains health promoting vitamins, dietary minerals, bran oil, fiber, and fatty acids that are removed to produce its more popular counterpart - white rice.
It has more flavor than white rice and a chewier texture.
Feel free to substitute this fabulous grain in any recipe that calls for white rice. They are interchangeable.
Various enzymes in brown rice can be activated by presoaking the grain before cooking. This process stimulates germination and allows a more complete amino acid profile, including GABA, to be obtained. A 20 minute soak in warm water (93 degrees) will produce the desired effect.
For 8,000 years, buckwheat has been providing humanity with essential nutrients, vitamins, energy, and fiber.
It is not a relative of wheat, as its name may imply. The seed of this plant so closely resembles the seed of the beech tree (on a smaller scale, of course) that it took on the names 'beech wheat' and 'buckwheat'.
The levels of zinc, copper, and manganese are higher in this cereal grain than in any other. It has a protein level that is second highest only to oats and its amino acid score is 100.
Buckwheat is a naturally gluten-free whole grain.
There are so many amazing buckwheat recipes available today. Pancakes, pizza crust, muffins, granola, energy bars, even graham crackers. Oh boy!
Bulgur is a daily staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean regions.
Whole grain hard red, durum, hard white, or soft white wheat is parboiled, dried, and cracked to produce this highly versatile grain.
It is a nutritional powerhouse; providing a healthy balance of fat, fiber, and protein.
This grain has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. When it is made with hard red wheat it can carry a slightly bitter undertone.
It's versatility makes it very useful in the kitchen. Prepare it as a substitute for nutritionally depleted sides, such as; potatoes, stuffing, and pasta. Use it in meatballs/meatloaf instead of bread crumbs. Make a hot cereal with it or bake it into your muffins. It is a common ingredient in Tabbouleh.
Some believe that farro is 'the mother of all wheat' - the original ancestor of the entire wheat species. It was the main source of nourishment for the legions of Rome, and part of the daily diet throughout all of Rome.
This grain contains iron, protein, and fiber. It is easy to digest and so your body will readily absorb the nutrition it provides.
It is also easy to prepare and works well in stews, salads, and casseroles. It is often used to make farrotto; a fabulous alternative to risotto.
Freekeh can be traced back to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and ancient Egypt.
It is said that this grain came about as a sort of by-product of an attack on an Eastern Mediterranean nation in 2300 B.C. The citizens of this city picked the early green heads of their wheat in an attempt to avoid starvation, as a result of the destruction of their crops, while under enemy attack. However this was to no avail, the wheat heads were still burned by their adversary.
Unwilling to discard them, they rubbed them between their hands and found that the grain inside was simply delicious - freekeh was born!
Because this grain is young it retains its maximum nutritional value.
It is high in both protein and fiber. It is low in available carbohydrates and glycemic index. It is a wheat product, therefore it contains gluten. However, there is research concerning the possibility that the early harvesting processes and roasting techniques cause the gluten to denature.
The flavor of this amazing grain can be compared to lapsang souchong tea. It makes a great addition to pilafs, soups, and stews. It can also be quite satisfying when prepared as a side dish for a meal. You can use it to replace rice in most dishes with great success.
Millet has such an incredible history. It was revered as one of five sacred crops by the ancient Chinese. It is mentioned in the writings of Herodotus, the Old Testament, and the journal of Marco Polo. This grain was first farmed close to 10,000 years ago.
It is an ancient grain from the Far East.
It is gluten free and alkaline; making it the perfect choice for those who want to balance their body's natural tendency to become acidic. It is a great source of dietary fiber as well.
The sweet and savory flavor of millet creates endless possibilities for adding it to your diet. It can be prepared with oil/butter and seasoning as a fabulous side dish. It makes a great breakfast cereal. Add it uncooked to breads, muffins, or biscuits to provide a delightful crunch.
Dubbed 'mother of all grains' by the Incas, quinoa held a spiritual significance for these people. This resulted in the creation of traditions and ceremonies around the cultivation, harvest, and consumption of this wonderful crop. The fact that this food staple was able to survive in altitudes as high as 20,000 feet above sea level, withstand frost, intense sun, and even dry conditions contributed greatly to their admiration for this 'psuedo-grain'.
Quinoa is actually a gluten-free seed. It is used in cooking like a whole grain and so many think of it as a grain.
It is nutrient-rich and a source of complete protein providing all of the essential amino acids. This tasty little seed is also a great source of dietary fiber.
The earthy flavor of quinoa makes it a lovely dish when enjoyed on its own. You can also use it with great success in any recipe that you would normally use couscous or rice. Put it in pilafs, soups, salads, cereal, and breads - it cooks very quickly making it a great choice when you are short on time.
Rye is the principle bread and cereal grain in Northern Europe and Russia.
Rye berries range in color from a golden hue to sage green. Sometimes the sage green berries are mistakenly thought to be moldy.
They are rich in both protein and dietary fiber. They contain arabinoxylan (a type of fiber) that has a high antioxidant activity. Rye is also high in phosphorous, copper, zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
Their flavor is rich, hearty, and deeply nutty.
These berries make a great breakfast cereal. They can be ground to produce flour or used in place of wheat berries, spelt berries, or brown rice in dishes. They sprout well and the sprouts are great in salads and sandwiches.
Spelt is a grain that has escaped the all too common process of hybridization! Therefore, it retains its original characteristics - including a complex flavor.
It is an ancient relative of durum wheat, whose origin dates back 8,000 years.
It is high in fiber and a great source of manganese and iron. It is not gluten-free. However, due to the ease with which it is digested it can be tolerated by many people who are sensitive to gluten.
It has a chewy texture and its flavor is sweet and nutlike.
It can be used in pilafs, cold salads, and soups. Replace other grains with it in your favorite recipes. Milling flour from spelt berries and using it in bread, baked goods, or pasta makes for quite a tasty treat.
This Ethiopian whole grain is the smallest grain in the world. It takes approximately 100 grains of teff to equal the size of one kernel of wheat.
It is an ancient North African grain that is considered a nutritional powerhouse.
It contains generous amounts of calcium, fiber, and protein. This is a gluten-free grain.
It has a mild flavor and is very versatile in the kitchen. It can be made into polenta, added to burgers (veggie burgers as well), and baked goods or prepared by itself as a hot breakfast cereal.
This is the whole complete wheat grain before it has been processed in any way.
It is a high fiber whole grain.
Wheat berries can be a bit tough and therefore they take quite a long time to cook. It is best to pre-soak them overnight but you can simmer them in plenty of water for about an hour as well.
Use them in stir-frys, or in any other way that you would use rice.
This grains name is a bit deceiving, as it is not rice at all. It is a long-grain marsh grass and is native to the United States.
It has a very pleasant nutty flavor and a chewy texture.
It is higher in protein than other whole grains. It also provides fiber, calcium, and iron. This grain has a considerable amount of folate, an essential vitamin. Folate is great for cell growth, and is particularly beneficial for expecting mothers and infants.
Wild rice makes a great side dish. It is fabulous as a bed for fish, poultry, beef, and pork. It enhances any type of salad and is a great addition to soups and stews.
That pretty much concludes our journey through my newly found knowledge of the huge family of grains available to us today.
I sure hope it helped you out! It has been pretty helpful to me ;)
Please take a moment to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of this post ...
Travel with me on this journey we call life ...
May good fortune chase you throughout ALL of your days!
Blessings ~ Diane