Nuts & Grains

Amaranth, millet, sorghum, oh my! 


First off, before we enter into teff territory, it's best to 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?  Luckily, this Grain girl - sated from her dinner of roasted vegetables and barley - can guide you through the thoroughly 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.  It 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 - or 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.

Buckwheat - Coming soon...




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