At work, and even at home, I preach and preach on making half of your grains whole grains. This can get boring at times with brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and oatmeal. Lucky for us, ancient grains have begun making an appearance which allows us to add more variety to the whole grains in our diet! There is no formal definition for ancient grains, but they can be loosely defined as grains that have not changed very much in the last 100 years. Google ancient grains and a wide variety of grains pops up, some you may have heard of and some you may not have. Today we will look at five different ancient grains and their health benefits.

  1. Amaranth: This ancient grain is packed full of protein. One cup of this grain contains 9 grams of protein! But protein isn’t the only nutrient you will find in amaranth. Amaranth is also loaded with calcium, fiber, potassium, and iron. It can be cooked like oatmeal, or even replace breadcrumbs in breading for baked chicken or fish.
  2. Buckwheat: High in protein and antioxidants, buckwheat is actually a seed that may benefit the heart and aid in blood sugar control. One cup of cooked buckwheat contains about 6 grams of protein. Cook buckwheat like oatmeal, or make it into this delicious granola – see recipe below.
  3. Farro: A mix between rice and pasta in texture, farro is a good source of fiber, protein, magnesium, vitamin B, and zinc. Zinc helps build the immune system, magnesium is beneficial for bone health, and fiber and protein help satisfy your hunger. Prepare farro as a salad, or add it to a soup.
  4. Chia: This grain, like buckwheat, is actually a seed that has been growing in popularity over the last few years, and it’s no surprise why! Chia seeds are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, antioxidants, calcium, and iron. Mix them into yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, or bake them into muffins.
  5. Kamut: This ancient grain provides a huge immunity boost by providing a significant amount of selenium. It is also great for helping reduce inflammation which may help lower cholesterol and help control blood sugar levels. Kamut is also high in protein, fiber, and calcium. Use this grain in place of rice in a burrito bowl or poke bowl.

One thing I noticed that these grains have in common is that they all have a significant amount of protein and other nutrients in them. I have been making an effort to incorporate ancient grains into my diet to not only add more variety to my plate, but also to provide more nutrients to my body. This buckwheat granola recipe is gluten-free – oats are naturally gluten-free but may come into contact with gluten during processing so make sure your oats are gluten-free. I hope you enjoy!

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Buckwheat Granola

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 355 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients.img_8682
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix until dry ingredients are evenly coated.img_8683
  5. On a baking sheet, spread the granola evenly and place in oven.
  6. Bake for about 7 minutes and remove from oven to stir mixture. Place back in oven for an additional 8 minutes.img_8684.jpg
  7. Once done, remove granola from oven and allow to cool completely before transferring into a container.img_8688

Enjoy this recipe mixed into yogurt, sprinkled over a smoothie bowl, mixed into oatmeal, or added to a bowl of Cheerio’s!

I challenge you to incorporate an ancient grain into your diet this week!