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A Few Favorite Grains
- Not a grain in the strictest sense, amaranth is actually the seeds of an herb indigenous to the Americas. The tiny seed packs a flavor punch that belies its miniature stature, and its lysine-rich, 16 percent protein profile makes it a nutritional darling to boot. Amaranth has a texture that pops in the mouth and a pronounced green spiciness that aligns it more closely in flavor to quinoa than to some of the other true grains, like wheat and oats. Many recipes can benefit from its addition, from biscuits and pancakes to tart crusts and granola bars. I include a few amaranth recipes in
- Super Natural Cooking
- : Millet is painfully underutilized. These perfect, delicately textured, butter-colored beads are as good for you as they are pretty. Easy to digest and sporting a fantastic heart-healthy magnesium content, millet is a great, quick-cooking starter grain. If you have the time for the extra step, the flavor of millet generally benefits from pre-toasting, easily done in a skillet. It brings forth a nutty flavor and tints the grains a wonderful spectrum of deep yellows and light browns. The light texture and mild flavor of millet pairs nicely with fresh alliums, such as chives, green onions, and spring garlic. Look for it in the bins at most natural food stores or try Whole Foods Markets. I've featured a couple
- millet recipes
- here on the site, and look forward to more.
- The ultimate morning grain, oats are available in a few different forms. Whole oat berries (or groats) are equivalent in size to wheat berries, but they cook up to twice as fast and are naturally sweeter, lending themselves nicely to spicy, sweet, salty, and fruity preparations. Steel-cut oats are created by cutting the groat down into smaller pieces. Old-fashioned rolled oats are produced by steaming whole groats and rolling them to varying thicknesses. Instant oats are simply the thinnest or most finely cut oats. All of these variations are considered whole foods. There are quite a few
- oat recipes
- here, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for out flour as well.
- Cooking quinoa is easier than trying to figure out how to pronounce it (KEEN-wah). This small, quick-cooking grain bullied me into first purchasing it years ago with a nutritional profile I couldnt ignore. High in easy-to-digest fiber and tops in protein, it has an encyclopedic vitamin and mineral profile and is positively brimming with properties thought to promote cardiovascular health, stave of certain cancers, tame headaches and migraines, provide antioxidant protection, and on and on. This is the grain credited with keeping Incan armies strong and resilient. Because the protein in quinoa is considered complete, its an ideal grain for vegetarians concerned about getting enough protein. It includes all of the essential amino acids and is a rich source of the amino acid lysine, which promotes tissue growth and repair and supports the immune system. While I initially purchased this grain for its nutritional perks, I kept buying it for its grassy taste and fluffed-up, creamy-while-crunchy texture. It grows in a spectrum of reds, browns, and pinks, but shades of ivory or deep red predominate in U.S. markets. Use quinoa in salads and stuffings or to add texture to quick breads and cookies. Always rinse it before using to remove the bitter saponin coating (which the plant produces to deter birds and insects). Technically not a true grain, it is related botanically to Swiss chard and beets, but it is grainlike in spirit when it comes to cooking. I have a bunch of
- quinoa recipes
- here on the site, and a few in
- Super Natural Cooking
- as well.
- One of the mightiest of the mini grains, teff (also spelled tef or tef) is the staple grain of Ethiopia. Because its rich in iron, its credited with establishing Ethiopians as the best long-distance runners in the world. How can such a small grain pack such a punch? Theres only room for the nutrient-rich bran and germ and not much else. I use teff in tart crusts and pie crusts, in place of cornmeal in polenta, and in a range of baked breads, cakes, and muffins. It is a very dignified-looking grain available in a deep, rich, reddish brown chestnut color or a classic ivory tone. For added depth of flavor when using teff, toast the raw grains for a few minutes in a dry panjust until fragrant. Here is a great
- teff recipe
- , and there are two others in
- Super Natural Cooking
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