Journey to the Center of the Grain

English: Quinua (Quinoa) plants near Cachora, ...

Ancient Grains.  Might sound like an exhibit at a museum.  But there has been a recent proliferation of advertising towards this indigenous myriad of grains.  Each starch form has its own story of origin and clearly the health benefit philosophy has endured.  Unlike corn and wheat, the properties of these ancient grains have not been selectively bred and manipulated for mass production.  Which makes them a precious commodity yet not an endangered crop, as they can grow virtually anywhere.  Far out.

In light of the current mainstream resurgence, I thought I would lay out the goods of my top 3 gluten-free grains.

Amaranth.
– Aztec culture; developed 8,000 years ago
– Requires cooking to induce health benefits
– High protein (14 g per 100 g serving) & lysine content (amino acid crucial for calcium absorption, building muscle protein)
– Mexican confection: popped amaranth mixed with honey
– North America brand pick: Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise Frozen Waffles 

Quinoa.
– Sacred crop according to Inca culture; considered “mother of all grains”
– Cultivated 4,000 years ago for human consumption
– 18% protein content, nutty flavor
– Species of goosefoot (chenopod), related to beets & spinach
– Glucose level stabilizer vs. white rice or couscous
– North America brand pick: President’s Choice Chocolate Quinoa Brownies (sub sugar for Stevia)

Millet.
– Cultivated for past 10,000 years in East Asia
– Grows in harsh climates as well as fertilized, potable regions
– Top producers include India & Nigeria
– Hearty bread loaf when combined with xanthan gum
– High source of protein, rich in B vitamins & calcium
– North America brand pick: Nature’s Path Millet Rice Cereal 

Disclaimer: ancient grains do comprise several forms that are “wheat-free” but still contain gluten (spelt, kamut, farro, einkorn & emmer to name a few).

Additional gluten-free ancient grains include sorghum and teff.  Frankly I was turned off by the cereal “Sorghum Puffs” on my quest for gluten-free bedtime comfort snacks.  So they shall remain uncharted until further contemporary recipe trial runs.

Reaping the benefits of wheat’s ancestors is not only nutritionally advantageous, but for the most part unexpectedly tasty.

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