How to Get More Ancient Grains into Your Diet
Ancient grains and wheat germ have a lot in common. As plant-based foods, they boast important nutrients and vitamins, such as iron, vitamin E, zinc, folate, potassium, B vitamins and more. Most are good sources of fiber and protein. Many are mistakenly lumped into the “whole grain” category (some ancient “grains” are actually seeds, herbs or fruit). And while they’re enjoying a renaissance in popularity, many cooks who want to add these nutrient-rich foods to their diets don’t quite know what to do with them.
Just as with wheat germ recipes, more and more recipes using ancient grains are popping up as health enthusiasts, athletes and others try their hand with these somewhat unfamiliar foods. Merely five years ago, you might be hard pressed to find quinoa, spelt, millet, sorghum, rye, farro, chia seeds, buckwheat, teff and other ancient grains in your local market. Some ancient grains still reside mostly on health food store shelves, but others, like quinoa, enjoy more widespread popularity. Here are some easy ways to get more ancient grains into your diet.
Build a salad around them. The protein in many ancient grains helps create balanced meals in salads like Summer Quinoa and Wheat Germ Salad, Spelt Salad with White Beans and Artichokes and Tomato, Basil and Millet Salad. The key to creating salads with ancient grains is relatively simple: Cook the grain according to package directions, cool it and then add in your favorite vegetables, greens, herbs, fruit, salad dressing and even meat or fish if you like.
Try them in stews and soups. Hearty grains are tasty and filling ingredients in dishes like Peanut Butter and Chickpea Soup, Sorghum Bowl with Black Beans, Amaranth and Avocado and Rachael Ray’s Tuscan Kale and Farro Soup. It doesn’t get much easier than tossing a bunch of ingredients into a slow cooker and waiting for the magic to happen with recipes like Lentil Soup with Ancient Grains and Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup.
Work them into your baked goods. Wheat Germ Crepes with Spinach and Ricotta and Almond Butter-Quinoa Blondies use flours made from ancient grains, while these Chia Muffins simply add chia seeds to the mix.
If you’re really serious about cooking with ancient grains, pick up Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. In this award-winning cookbook, author Maria Speck offers Mediterranean-themed dishes inspired by her upbringing.
How do you incorporate ancient grains into your recipe repertoire?