In the Press

6 ancient grains to help you move past quinoa

07/10/2015

If you’ve been in a grocery store, restaurant or anywhere with another living human in the past few years, you know quinoa has been everywhere.
Literally, everywhere. Salads, bread, meatballs, cookies, they’ve all been made with quinoa at some point.
It’s gotten to the point where we don’t blame you for being a little burnt out on quinoa. Luckily, ancient grains of all sorts are piggy backing on the quinoa craze and many are gaining traction. In January, Cheerios launched their new Ancient Grains variety, containing quinoa, spelt and kamut.
If you’re looking to keep the health benefits of whole grains, but are sick of quinoa try these ancient grains instead.
 
Spelt
The Rundown
Spelt is a member of the same family as common bread wheat, rye and oats but is an entirely different species. Among the largest differences are that spelt has much less gluten (although still some) and can even be eaten by some people with wheat sensitivities. This grain makes a light loaf of bread and offers a somewhat nutty flavour.
 
The Recipe
Ragu Al Carne with Spelt Pappardelle, Mascarpone
 
A bowl of pappardelle pasta made with spelt flour topped with vegetables and steak from My Kitchen Rules. This recipe uses spelt flour to make a delicious homemade pasta. Combined with steak and a collection of fresh veggies this taste of Italy is a great way to introduce your whole family to spelt.
 
Freekeh
The Rundown
Freekeh is an ancient grain of Middle Eastern fame and has been around for over 4000 years. Though traditionally used for thick soups or stuffing chicken, freekeh is starting to make a new name for itself in the grain market. Plus it has probably the coolest harvesting method ever.
Farmers use a blowtorch on the wheat husks to roast the freekeh held inside. This helps give the freekeh a smoky taste.
 
The Recipe
Chicken with Kale and Freekeh-Lentil Pilaf
 
A plate with a chicken breast on top of a pilaf made of freekeh grain. This dish breaks away from traditional freekeh applications and uses a more modern approach, creating a pilaf. A great way to introduce Middle Eastern flavours to your cooking.
 
Teff
The Rundown
Teff is a traditional Ethiopian grain and it is a protein powerhouse. One cup alone contains 26 grams of protein. As a crop it thrives in even the most difficult conditions, making it a very sustainable product. It’s also tiny. Really tiny. Three thousand grains of teff weigh one gram. Similar to spelt, teff has a mild nutty taste.
 
The Recipe
Teff Porridge
 
A bowl of porridge made with teff seed topped with apples, dates and pecans. This porridge is a hearty and healthy way to start the day. The creamy and nutty bowl is mixed with apples, dates and pecans to create a wonderful breakfast bowl.
 
Farro
The Rundown
The term farro actually refers to a trio of Italian grown grains with similar characteristics. Most varieties in North America can be cooked quickly (in about 25 minutes) and hold a good amount of nutrients. Farro is a versatile grain and it works in breakfast cereals, salads, as pasta and even as a sort of risotto. It has a nutty flavour (have you spotted a trend?) and contains less gluten than wheat, but more than spelt.
 
The Recipe
Butternut Squash, Kale and Farro Soup
 
A spoon above a bowl of soup made with farro seeds, kale and butternut squash. This delicious soup requires a bit of time but comes together easily to create a wonderful meld of flavours. It’s a perfect, nutritious lunch.
 
Millet
The Rundown
Though it is best known as bird seed, millet was a staple in the middle Ages. It was even more popular than wheat! This grain is of African origin and is still used in many regional diets, including as an ingredient in many roti. It’s also used in many beers in Eastern Africa. Most importantly this grain is gluten free and can be eaten by many with gluten sensitivities.
 
The Recipe
Bajrey Ki Roti – Millet Flatbread
Though making the perfect roti will take practice, it is certainly worth it. The traditional Indian flatbread is typically used for wrapped curries. The possibilities with this gluten-free wrap are endless!
 
Kamut
The Rundown
Another protein packed option, kamut has 30% more protein than traditional wheat. We however, prefer its nickname ‘Pharoah’s grain’ as it was discovered in Egyptian tombs. Kamut “berries” (grains) can be used whole and are great for salads and pilafs. Kamut flour is also lighter than traditional wheat, which makes it a great choice for pasta making!
 
The Recipe
Creamy Chicken and Kamut Casserole
 
This recipe pairs deliciously chewy kamut with cheese, collard greens and red peppers to make a simple, one skillet dish. This one is sure to please the whole family!