Teff, Good Grains

Grains are packed with nutrients and most nutritionists recommend we consume three servings a day (a serving is ½ cup of cooked grain).  Grains are among the oldest food plants in the world.  For many Americans grains beyond wheat and rice are a new food group.  Eating grains is a much better choice than white flour carbs.  Grains not only provide more fiber, they are good for your digestion and blood glucose levels. They keep you feeling full longer.

Greet the grains:

Amaranth originated in Central America and was once considered a weed.  You can buy amaranth as seeds, flour or puffed cereal.  It has a nutty toasted flavor.

Why we want to eat it:

One cup of cooked amaranth has almost as much calcium as a cup of cottage cheese, 5 grams of fiber,  more protein than a hard-boiled egg, folic acid and magnesium.  It also has lysine, an amino acid that helps with growth and tissue repair.  Amaranth is gluten-free.

How to eat it:

It can be cooked like rice (it has an oatmeal-like consistency) and eaten for breakfast, added to salads or soups, or used as a side dish. In its flour form you can find it in breads, cereals, noodles or granolas.

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Teff, which I’d never heard of, is teensy little grains.

teff, good grains

Why we want to eat it:

Teff is high in calcium and vitamin C and is gluten-free.

How to eat it:

It can be roasted and sprinkled on salads, or cooked in water until creamy and used in stews, soups, gravies or puddings.

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Sorghum is also known as Milo and is a good option for people suffering from celiac disease.

sorghum, teff

Why we want to eat it:

It is a gluten-free grain that is high in fiber, niacin and phosphorous.  It also contains policosanols which may be good for your heart.

How to eat it:

It can be made into couscous or boiled like rice. It can also be used as flour in baked goods or cooked into hot cereals or popped like popcorn.

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Freekeh is a wheat kernel with a smoky flavor that originated in the Middle East.  The kernels are harvested when young so they contain more vitamins and minerals than other grains.

teff and freekah

Why we want to eat it:

Freekeh provides up to four times the fiber content of brown rice and has as much protein.  It is very low on the glycemic index.

How to eat it:

Boil Freekeh in water and use in soups and salads, or mix it with roasted vegetables. In its boiled form it is like a risotto or pilaf. It can also be a side dish. In its flour form you can find it in prepared cereals, breads and other baked goods.

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Chia is my most recent discovery.  Chia is available in seed form, tiny black and white seeds to be precise.  Chia has a reputation for reducing hunger pangs.

If you remember Chia Pets, they are still available!

teff, chia

Why we want to eat it:

Chia provides a large amount of omega 3 fatty acids.  One teaspoon of seeds provides 3 grams of fiber, almost as much as a fiber supplement.

How to eat it:

Chia seeds absorb up to three times their volume in water. The seeds turn into a delicious pudding when added to 1 cup of liquid (almond or coconut milk for example) and a teaspoon of vanilla and allowed to sit in the fridge overnight.  I have that for breakfast often.  Add the seeds to your baked products, sprinkle into soups, yoghurt, oatmeal, or onto salads.

Grain photos from Purcell Mountain Farms