Ancient Grains

NUTRITION TIP THURSDAY

by Lindsey Herr

All grains come from the days of old, but what we know as ‘ancient’ grains is actually quite new. Calling grains ‘ancient grains’ is used as a marketing term for consumers, which adds to the confusion. Ancient grains are typically grains that have not been genetically bred and developed in recent history. The wheat crop we grow today is not what it once was. The crop can now withstand more pesticides, herbicides, and is usually weather resilient.

The Whole Grain Council says: “Many ancient grains thrive with lower levels of pesticides, fertilizers, and irrigation, making them an attractive choice to consumers who choose to shop with their carbon footprint in mind. However, the best way to ensure that you’re getting the full spectrum of nutrients available in nature is to eat a variety of different grain foods.”

With this in mind, here is a list of new grains to try out this summer. They make great side dishes, main courses, or are great as flour for breads or baking!

Barley

  • Offers the most fiber of all whole grains

  • Lower in starch (carbohydrates) than most other grains

  • Commonly used in soups, but for summer, try it in an antipasto salad!

Buckwheat

  • Often seen in pancakes and buckwheat noodles (AKA soba noodles)

  • Slightly nutty flavor

  • Only grain known to have high levels of rutin- an antioxidant that helps circulation and prevents bad cholesterol from blocking the blood vessels

Millet

  • A group of similar grains fall under the category of millet

  • Can be found in white, grey, red or yellow varieties

  • High in protein and antioxidants

Spelt

  • Also called dinkel wheat or hulled wheat

  • A variety of wheat - but higher in protein!

  • Lightly sweet and nutty flavor - makes a very light and tender loaf of bread

For more information and recipes, check out the Whole Grain Council’s website!


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