First off, let's define what a grain actually is. A grain is the edible, hard seed -or fruit- of a grass, known as a cereal grass (no, not your Puffins or Cheerios!). They are a staple food around the world and are responsible for feeding billions of people. But once you get beyond rice, wheat, corn and rye, things can get a little confusing. What's the difference between them? How do I know which ones to eat? Which ones contain gluten? Edge of The Woods can guide you through the nourishing, but sometimes perplexing, world of grains.
Amaranth. A staple food of South America -the Aztecs used it in religious practices, this hearty little yellow grain is a complete protein and chock full of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C. It's quick to cook, (just add a lot of water), maintains a nutty crunch even when cooked, and can be easily added to any number of wheat containing recipes (except pilafs!) and it's gluten-free!
Barley. After rice, corn, and wheat, barley is the most consumed grain in the world. It has been used as a malted base for beer, as a unit of measurement, and as a foodstuff it contains the highest fiber of any of the whole grains. It also contains a high portion of B vitamins, maganese and selenium. But beware! If your barley is pearled, or white -not hulled- it is not nearly as nutritious as the outer bran has been removed. Barley has a nutty, chewy flavor, does take a while to cook, and is not gluten-free.
Bulgur. A staple of Middle Eastern cuisine (commonly used in tabbouleh and couscous), bulgur is the crushed up remains (groats) of durum wheat kernels. It contains a high amount of low-calorie insoluble fiber, and is high in protein. It has a quick cooking time and a mild flavor, making it an excellent choice for the neophyte to the world of grains. It has three grinds: coarse, medium, and fine. The fine grind is the grind used in tabbouleh. Being derived from wheat, it is not gluten-free.
More details coming soon...