Nutrition-Packed Ancient Grains
Most wheat products on the market today are highly processed and sprayed with the harmful chemical glyphosate. Many people also have sensitivities to wheat or the final product after treatment and processing. Ancient grains, cultivated by different native cultures around the globe, provide nutritious options for meeting your carbohydrate cravings.
Black rice, also known as “Forbidden” or “Emperor’s” rice because it was used as a tribute food for royalty in ancient China, is rich in anthocyanins. One study shows consuming it regularly reduced arterial plaque. So try colorful rice next time instead of white.
Millet is described in the Bible as a grain grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and was used to make bread. It’s gluten free and has a nutty taste and a fluffy texture. Millet can be cooked up for a breakfast cereal (with some dried figs, ginger and cinnamon perhaps), can be used in baking or frying batter, or added to a recipe for stuffed squash. Once you get a taste for its flavor, you’ll be able to get more creative and use it in other recipes.
I’ve crunched my way through a bag of blue corn tortilla chips without even knowing how nutritious they were. Blue corn, rich in anthocyanins like black rice, is lower on the glycemic index (good for people watching blood sugar) and contains more protein, zinc, and iron than white and yellow corns. It’s origins lie in the American Southwest and Central and South America. The Hopi Indians used blue corn in religious rituals and still use it today to cook piki bread. Add some anthocyanin color to your next breakfast by making your pancakes or muffins with blue corn.
Quinoa dates back to the Inca Empire in Peru and has just recently been recognized as a superfood. It’s gluten free, protein-rich, and contains all nine essential amino acids. In addition, it’s rich in fiber, B-vitamins, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, vitamin E, and phosphorus. Quinoa also contains abundant flavonoids, which fight down inflammation and the proliferation of cancer cells. Quinoa can be added to smoothies, eaten like oatmeal, added to nutrition bars and used in place of other kinds of pasta for cooking.
Purple barley, a dietary mainstay in ancient Tibet and the Middle East, is high in protein and has a low glycemic index. It also contains important vitamins and minerals potassium, iron, calcium, selenium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. It’s a great addition to soups, salads, and pilafs. Want some for breakfast? Grind it up and use it as flour for your favorite pancake, muffin or waffle recipe.
Amaranth was a favorite of the Aztecs and is gluten-free and is rich in protein and the amino acid, lysine. This grain they called huautli played an important role in religious rituals. Amaranth was eventually outlawed by Spanish conquistadors. But it’s made a comeback in recent years. In Mexico, people mix it with honey to create the Latin version of rice crispy treats. Many recipes using amaranth are available online including ones for amaranth pancakes and amaranth fish sticks.
Add some of these new foods to your diet and start reaping the taste and health benefits today.