Whole grains are full of fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients, but don’t stop at just whole wheat and brown rice. The following great grains can offer variety and a break from the same foods over and over again. Many of these grains can be found in special pastas, breads, and cereals or they can be cooked like rice and eaten in their “whole” form.
Kamut This ancient grain is a cousin to wheat and was enjoyed by the Pharaohs of Egypt. It is a large chewy grain with a delicate, nutty flavor. Kamut is higher in protein and some minerals including zinc, magnesium and the antioxidant selenium than modern wheat.
Spelt Spelt’s use also dates back thousands of years and it too is an ancient relative to modern day wheat. But, unlike modern wheat it has not been bred to boost yield. Spelt is naturally higher in protein and complex B vitamins than wheat. It has a pleasant, “wheat-like” flavor and may be more easily tolerated by some who cannot tolerate wheat. It does contain gluten, so would not be appropriate for celiac patients.
Teff Teff originated in Ethiopia and was cultivated there as early as 4000 BC. It is a very tiny grain-the smallest in the world, and it is considered gluten free so it may be eaten by those with celiac disease. It is high in protein and iron, making it a great vegetarian food.
Amaranth This super nutritious gluten free grain is actually related to spinach and beets and was a favorite food of the Aztecs. It is higher in protein than many other grains and is high in lysine-an amino acid usually lacking in grains, but found in legumes.
Quinoa This versatile relatively quick cooking grain makes a great alternative to rice and it is also gluten free. It has a mild flavor and does not get “sticky” when cooked. It is a complete protein source with an amino acid profile comparable to milk.
Buckwheat Buckwheat is technically a fruit and is not related to wheat at all so it is safe for those with celiac disease. It too is rich in protein and fiber. Buckwheat is the richest source of the potent antioxidant phytochemical rutin (part of Quercetin). It helps strengthen blood capillaries, improve circulation, and has anti-inflammatory properties.