Tired of the same old white rice? Kick it up a notch with some ancient grains. Haven’t all grains been around for thousands of years? Yes! All grains are technically “ancient.” However, ancient grains are defined as grains that haven’t changed over the past several hundred years. Ancient grains include black barley, red and black rice, sorghum, teff, millet, quinoa, amaranth and freekeh. Did you know that Greeks and Romans offered spelt to the gods, Aztecs considered chia seeds worthy of tribute and farro is noted in the Old Testament? Ancient grains are more than just a remnant of the past. They are cereals and seeds with a hearty texture and an exceptional nutrition profile. These grains are becoming easier to find in the grocery store. You can also find numerous recipes with a quick search on the internet. Give them a try the next time you’re looking for something to spice up your typical dinner.
Why you should eat them
Ancient grains are certainly healthier than refined grain products such as white bread or refined crackers. However, their nutritional value is comparable to brown rice, oatmeal, wheat bread and whole grain pasta. Ancient grains thrive with lower levels of pesticides, fertilizers and irrigation, which lowers their carbon footprint and makes them attractive to customers. These grains are packed with nutrients including B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, iron, fiber and antioxidants. Quinoa, amaranth and freekeh are gluten free. Try barley as a substitute for oatmeal or quinoa as a substitute for rice in a stuffed pepper.
Ancient grains are packed with nutrition and a great substitute for rice, pasta or oatmeal. Prepare one at the beginning of the week and incorporate it into side dishes, main dishes and salads throughout the week.
Written by: Emelie Buell, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern
1. Oldways Whole Grains Council
2. One Green Planet