You love quinoa, and you can eat it for dinner, lunch and breakfast (one-bowl quinoa breakfast bake, anyone?). When you roll your own sushi, you always make it with brown rice. Okay, grainy girl, we get it: Complex carbs are your thing, and for good reason. If you’re looking to step up your grain game, ancient grains — grains that have remained largely unchanged over the last several hundred years — are an easy way to load up on B vitamins and fiber, giving you that extra energy you need for your busy week, and many of them are gluten-free. Read on to learn about eight must-try ancient grains and the tastiest ways to cook ’em.
If you’ve ever eaten Ethiopian food and sampled injera, the delicious spongy flatbread that accompanies most dishes, you’ve had teff. Teff is a type of grass, rich in iron, fiber, calcium and protein. Like quinoa, teff is gluten-free, though the actual size of the grain is much smaller. Try teff as a breakfast porridge, or use it in flour form to make your own injera.
1. Teff Porridge With Figs, Walnuts and Honey: Toast teff until you hear it pop to make this simple breakfast porridge. Sub the dish in for your usual oatmeal for some much-needed morning-meal variety. (via Feasting at Home)
2. Injera (Ethiopian Flatbread): Making injera at home can be a tricky but rewarding process. Once you make a batch, you’ll wonder why you don’t always keep it on hand to sop up delicious sauces. See you never, utensils! (via Petit World Citizen)
The staple food of the Aztecs, this grain is, well, ancient. In Mexico, amaranth is used in a honeyed candy called “alegría.“ These tiny grains are highly absorbent. When cooked, amaranth tends to be a bit mushy. Incorporate this protein-packed and gluten-free ingredient into grain mixes, hot cereals, soups and stews.
3. Smoky Amaranth Black Bean Burgers: Give your homemade veggie burgers some texture with tiny amaranth grains. They’re the perfect way to soak up flavor without adding too much of its own. (via Vegan Richa)
4. Mexican Ranchero Amaranth Stew: Amaranth makes a great healthy thickener in this hearty Mexican stew. It doesn’t expand as much as quinoa, so there’s still a good amount of liquid left. Use fresh broth for a more flavorful stew. (via Making Thyme for Health)
5. Blueberries ‘n’ Cream Amaranth Porridge: This porridge is an indulgent-feeling way to jumpstart your day with protein and calcium. It somehow tastes like dessert AND it’s good for you. Let’s eat dessert for breakfast every day. (via Naturally Ella)
6. Amaranth Muesli With Barberries: Amaranth granola with deliciously tart barberries adds a satisfying crunch to yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Use pre-puffed amaranth or puff your own by dry toasting it in a pan for a healthy bite that’s easier to chew. (via Foodlovin’)
For Southern food lovers, sorghum is best known as a syrup and sweetener, but it’s also a popular grain in the gluten-free community. It’s a highly versatile ingredient full of vitamins and low in fat. When ground into a flour, it’s a great substitute for wheat flour. Whole, it can make a satisfying risotto or a tasty addition to salads.
7. Sorghum Salad With Kale Pesto: This incredibly fresh salad with sorghum won’t leave you hungry. It’s tart, salty and full of tasty herbs and tomatoes. Think of it as tabbouleh’s cooler cousin. (via Healthy Nibbles and Bits)
8. Tuscan White Bean Stew With Sorghum: Sorghum adds a nice chewy texture to tender white beans and greens in this stew. It holds its form even when slow cooked, making it an awesome rice substitute. (via Feasting at Home)
It’s possible there’s an even healthier upgrade for your brown rice. This grain, kamut, is full of protein and has a low fat content. It has more chew than most ancient grains, making it right at home in pilaf and rice dishes. Pro tip: Soak your kamut overnight for a shorter cook time. In flour form, kamut makes a hearty whole grain dough for pasta, bread and more, though it should be noted it is not gluten-free.
9. One Skillet Creamy Chicken and Kamut Casserole: Cook kamut in bulk over the weekend to prep for easy weeknight meals. Once you have your cooked kamut, putting together this one-skillet casserole is no sweat. (via Healthy Nibbles and Bits)
10. Kamut and Spelt Focaccia With Leeks: Even in flour form, kamut takes some time to proof. But this nutrient-packed focaccia is worth the wait. It’s a baking project for a lazy weekend full of snacking. (via Oggi Pane e Saleme, Domani)
11. Creamy Mushroom and Ham Pies With Kamut and Spelt Crust: Kamut flour adds a nutty, buttery flavor to crust. Up your pastries’ decadence level without adding butter or chocolate. (via The Cook’s Pyjamas)
Like, kamut, farro benefits from a nice overnight bath. While the cook time for this grain is quite long, there’s an upside: Farro has less of a tendency to get mushy. If you’re looking for a quicker way to enjoy this grain, try the semi-pearled and pearled versions. Also, like kamut, farro is not gluten-free.
12. Chickpea, Farro and Chorizo in Sofrito Brodo: This hearty dish is for soup lovers who want something to munch on. There’s plenty going on here, with tender chickpeas, chewy farro and spicy chorizo, all swimming in a creamy tomato and sofrito broth. (via Marley Spoon)
13. Farro Risotto With Squash and Kale: Try a new grain in your risotto. Unlike Italian rice, farro doesn’t release starch when you cook, so you won’t have to stir it as often. The end result, however, is just as rich and creamy. (via Alexandra’s Kitchen)
Spelt is a form of hulled wheat, which also means it contains gluten (though less gluten than wheat flour). This, along with its high fiber content, makes spelt much easier to digest. Bring on the spelt pizza!
Let’s get freekeh! This supergrain, which contains gluten, has twice the protein of quinoa, AND it’s high in fiber. It’s roasted in the harvesting process, which gives it a slightly smokey flavor boost.
15. Freekeh Salad With Herbs and Goat Cheese: This Mediterranean-inspired salad will shake you out of your cold-weather blues. It’s bright and colorful, with a burst of flavor from tart pomegranates. (via Eten Uit Volkstuin)
Contrary to what you’ve heard, millet is not just for the birds. This grain is not only gluten-free but also alkaline, making it easier for your body to digest than your average grain. The flavor is mild and slightly sweet. Try it as a substitute in any rice dish or in a vegetarian patty.
16. Yellow Split Pea and Millet Cakes With Carrot Miso Sauce: These delicious split pea and lentil cakes are delicious as a main or tucked into pita bread for a quick lunch. Make a big batch on a Sunday, then have them for the rest of the week with a side salad. (via The Full Helping)
17. Spicy Pumpkin Hokkaido Vegan Burgers: These combination legume, grain and pumpkin burgers are full of flavor, and they’ll fill you up without weighing you down. Now that’s a burger dreams are made of. (via Food Porn, Vegan Style)
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