Ancient grains are exactly what their name implies. They are grains that have been planted and harvested for thousands of years. Certain ancient grains are not grains at all but are actually seeds or grasses. Some examples of ancient grains are: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and spelt. The connectedness of the world today allows us to learn more about other cultures and different foods, so consumers are looking for more diverse food choices, such as ancient grains. These ancient grains are becoming more common in grocery stores and in prepared products like bars and cereals.
Whole ancient grains are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. People who eat more whole grains, including ancient grains, may have a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Certain ancient grains, like barley and quinoa, have additional health benefits. Barley has soluble fibre which may help lower cholesterol levels, and quinoa is a complete protein as it has all 8 essential amino acids.
Some tips for using ancient grains might be:
- Use barley or quinoa instead of rice in recipes
- Add barley to soup
- Replace half the flour in a recipe with barley or quinoa flour
- Eat these grains like a hot cereal and top with fruit, cinnamon, nuts or seeds
- Use them to make a creative salad or side dish
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