This summer the unthinkable happened. I got sick of cooking! I know, I know! The girl who loves to eat and can talk about food all day long got sick of cooking! But the spark was gone. I knew my family needed to be fed but just couldn’t think of what. Sick of the same old stuff, I needed to change things up.
So I went to trusty Pinterest for inspiration. I pinned and pinned and pinned recipes. When looking at the board, there was clearly a trend. It was full of grain salads. They were colorful and not too complicated and because of that, I was sold!
As I read the recipes, I saw ingredients I had never tried before — namely bulgur and farro. I found that they were ancient grains after a quick search. I was intrigued. What were they? Where could I find them? Most importantly how did they taste? I needed to know everything and as a result, I tried seven ancient grains.
Here’s what you need to know.
History of Ancient Grains
There is no set list of ancient grains but the simple
Ancient grains are found in all corners of the globe. Many have been around for thousands of years with fascinating histories. There are stories of the grain Kamut being found in King Tut’s Tomb, the
Ancient grains are sold in most specialty food stores and the health benefits are well worth the trip. I easily found them at Whole Foods and Wild By Nature. While each grain offers specific nutrients, all ancient grains are plant-based proteins and whole grains. Both of which are essential for optimal health.
Why choose plant-based proteins?
Much to my husband’s chagrin, constant red meat consumption is not the best for ideal health. The USDA has dietary guidelines which recommend varying your types of proteins. Plant-based proteins are lower in calories and fat and higher in nutrient content than animal-based proteins. Therefore eating plant-based proteins gives you more bang for your caloric buck!
Why Whole Grains?
The USDA recommends half of your grains consumed during the day to be whole grains due to the many health benefits. Here are a few according to “The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook”
- Reduced risk of Type II diabetes
- Lowered risk of heart attack
- Helps to maintain weight
- Promotes healthy bowel movements
These health benefits are pretty impressive and because of that you are itching to try ancient grains, right? Don’t know where to start? I hear you!
I tried seven ancient grains and here’s what you need to know.
Made from cracked wheat that is partially cooked, bulgur is ready in just 15 minutes. The fine texture makes it great in pilafs and soups. I use it as a couscous substitute. This tabbouleh recipe with bulgur started my ancient grain quest. It’s delish!
Dating back over 5,000 years, Chia seeds have recently become popular again. These small black seeds are a great addition to smoothies, yogurts, and even salads. Packed with fiber and Omega-3 fatty acid, they become pudding when left in the fridge overnight. Who doesn’t want pudding for breakfast? Another great use is sprinkled on peanut butter toast, fruits, and even salads. Because of the small size, a little bit of chia seeds goes a long way.
Similar to barley, farro is of Italian descent. It has a great, chewy texture that holds up really well in salads. It can be used in the same way as rice in recipes. However, in contrast to rice, farro is denser and has more bite. As for nutrition, it is a great source of iron and fiber.
A gluten-free grain, millet’s little seeds add flavor and texture to dishes. Popular as a rice substitute, it was the predominant grain in China prior to rice. I found it to have a bit of a stronger taste than I prefer from grains.
Quinoa is currently surging in popularity. As a result, you can find it on the Applebee’s menu. This seed has a great taste and texture. It holds up well to pilafs, salads and can even be used in baked goods.
Interested in trying ancient grains?
There were a few misses but a lot of hits in my quest to try ancient grains. I was overall so happy to have these grains get me out of my cooking funk! As a result, farro, bulgur, quinoa, and kamut have all easily worked into my weekly meal plans and helped me to change up some of the standard meals.
The Kitchen Chalkboard’s Ancient Grains Pinterest Board is full of recipes so check it out! Also, comment below if you have tried ancient grains before. I’d love to hear your favorites.