According to the Whole Grains Council, it’s officially National Whole Grains Month, and in honor of the occasion we at Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods want to share some new ways to marvel at ancient grains. Thousands of years ago, populations on every continent cultivated staple whole grains, and today, while a number of those grains persist, many food lovers may not know about the delicious and nutritious splendor of these edible antiquities. As you know, there are countless health benefits from whole grains, and it is recommended that Americans incorporate 3 to 5 servings of whole grains in the daily diet.
Have fun learning about a few more ancient grains that we personally enjoy, as well ways to cook with them.
1. Kamut – Kamut berries are an ancient relative of modern durum wheat and originated in Egypt thousands of years ago. The grain’s inherent sweetness and buttery taste make Kamut a flavorful alternative for wheat. Try using it in a vegetarian main course, such as Kamut Grain and Shiitake Risotto with Thyme.
2. Amaranth – Dates back hundreds of years to the Aztecs in Mexico. Like quinoa, it contains all of the essential amino acids, especially Lysine, which is lacking in many common grains. Amaranth offers an unusually high quality protein and is higher in fiber than wheat, corn, rice, or soybeans. Try using it place of corn grits in your polenta, with this Amaranth Polenta with Wild Mushrooms recipe.
3. Millet – Originated in China nearly 5,000 years ago, making it one of the earliest cultivated grains. Whole grain millet is a good source of protein, essential amino acids, and fiber, with a distinctive, sweet flavor. Quick-cooking, easily digested and naturally gluten free, this ancient grain is an excellent choice for special diets. Try it as a hot breakfast cereal, or add it to breads and crackers for a hint of sweetness and crunch. It also makes a great vegetarian dish, Millet “Meat” Balls, for the whole family.
4. Teff – An ancient North African cereal grass and the smallest grain in the world. The germ and bran, where the nutrients are concentrated, account for a much larger volume of the seed compared to more familiar grains, making it a nutritional powerhouse. One serving of whole grain teff averages 4 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of protein and nearly one quarter of our suggested daily calcium intake. At your next dinner party this fall, wow your guests with an Apple and Pear Crisp, made with teff.