ancient grains

Ancient grains – a quick guide

With the backlash against modern wheat, and the gluten that goes with it, the so called ‘ancient grains’ have never been so popular. These grains, some actually seeds, have been around for centuries, and managed to escape the tinkering that our modern wheat strains have undergone. They would have been the basis of our early bread making here in Britain, and have long been part of the diet of cultures across the world.

A huge part of the population has turned away from wheat, even embracing the possibility that the advice to eat plenty of carbohydrate is flawed. Yet the fact remains that the body requires carbohydrate to function effectively, and most of us need an affordable source of energy to bolster all those meat proteins and plant foods. Enter, ancient grains. Many are gluten free and they all come with an impressive nutritional profile in the form of protein, vitamins and minerals. But do you know your teff from your sorghum?

Amaranth

amaranth

The seed of a fairly common garden plant named ‘love lies bleeding’, Amaranth is a great source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. Often found in powder form and used as a thickening agent but is gaining popularity as a whole grain.

Grain/seed..?

SEED

Widely used in…

SOUTH AMERICA

Gluten..?

GLUTEN FREE

Good source of…

VITAMIN C, CALCIUM

Use..

AS QUINOA

 

Chia

chia

A tiny little seed, or pseudo grain, chia is best known for its use as a gelling agent and can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water.

Grain/seed..?

SEED

Widely used in…

MEXICO

Gluten..?

GLUTEN FREE

Good source of…

FIBRE, PROTEIN

Use..

Soak 1/3 cup chia with 1 cup milk to make

a pudding. Top with fruit and nuts.

 

Farro

farro

Farro is the Italian name for three different kinds of ancient wheat and is widely used in Italian cookery. Einkorn, emmer and spelt, are all sold as farro and it is bought whole, semi pearled, or pearled. Think barley. The whole version needs soaking overnight before cooking. Lovely and chewy, with a nutty flavour.

Grain/seed..?

GRAIN; WHEAT

Widely used in…

ITALY

Gluten..?

GLUTEN

Good source of…

PROTEIN, FIBRE, MINERALS

Use..

COOK AS RICE AND EAT HOT OR COLD.

ADD TO SOUPS OR SALADS.

 

Freekeh

freekeh

A wheat whole grain that is harvested green and toasted before packaging for sale. With more protein and fibre than quinoa it will keep you fuller for longer.

Grain/seed..?

GRAIN; WHEAT

Widely used in…

MIDDLE EAST

Gluten..?

GLUTEN

Good source of…

PROTEIN, FIBRE

Use..

USE AS FARRO OR BARLEY

 

Kamut

kamut

Kamut is the brand name of a variety of wheat known as Khorosan. Certified organic, it has a higher proportion of protein, fats and minerals than modern wheat.

Grain/seed..?

GRAIN; WHEAT

Widely used in…

NORTH AMERICA

Gluten..?

GLUTEN

Good source of…

PROTEIN, FATS, MINERALS

Use..

AS FARRO OR FREEKEH

 

Millet

millet

A tiny round seed most widely recognised as budgie food. The yellow variety looks a lot like cous cous. Roast before boiling for extra depth of flavour.

Grain/seed..?

SEED

Widely used in…

AFRICA, ASIA

Gluten..?

GLUTEN FREE

Good source of…

MAGNESIUM

Use..

AS RICE OR PORRIDGE.

Add 1 part millet to 2.5 parts water and simmer for 25

minutes. Use more water for a porridge consistency.

 

Quinoa

quinoa

Another tiny seed that comes under the heading of ancient grains, and possibly the one that we are all familiar with.

Grain/seed..?

SEED

Widely used in…

PERU

Gluten..?

GLUTEN FREE

Good source of…

A COMPLETE PROTEIN

Use..

AS RICE. ADD TO SALADS. SIMMER 1 PART

GRAIN TO 2 PARTS WATER FOR 15 MINUTES.

 

Sorghum

sorghum

A fairly large cereal grain widely grown in Africa.

Grain/seed..?

GRAIN

Widely used in…

AFRICA

Gluten..?

GLUTEN FREE

Good source of…

FIBRE

Use..

AS AN ALTERNATIVE POPCORN

 

Teff

teff

The staple, revered, food of Ethiopia, used fermented in the production of injeera, a flatbread that is the national dish. The smallest of all the ancient grains, teff is sweet and light rather than robust and nutty. It makes excellent porridge.

Grain/seed..?

SEED

Widely used in…

ETHIOPIA

Gluten..?

GLUTEN FREE

Good source of…

CALCIUM

Use..

AS PORRIDGE. COOK 1 PART TEFF IN 3 PARTS

WATER FOR 6 MINUTES AND LEAVE TO STAND FOR 5.