Even though it’s the last day of September, I am not going to let this month slip on by without celebrating Whole Grains Month. Already, this month, we have celebrated National Cheese PIzza Day, National Peanut Day, and National Chicken Month,
In honor of Whole Grains Month, I am going to zero in on more uncommon ones. Sure, you’ve probably heard of barley, oats, and rice, but what about teff, farro, freekeh, millet, or amaranth? These might sound like foreign words to you, so we’re going to break them down and talk about how they could be beneficial to add in to your diet.
As a little introduction about why whole grains are awesome—they are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion, slowing down the digestion process. Insoluble fiber helps food to pass through the stomach and intestines. Simply put, fiber keeps things movin’! Whole grains also come packed with vitamins and minerals.
Moving on to teff and farro, two uncommon grains that are so worth trying!
Let’s start with teff, a species of grass, native to Ethiopia. It comes in the form of a seel much like quinoa. It has a lot of the recently discovered dietary fiber, resistant starch. Resistant starch goes un digested in the intestines, passing to the colon and feeding the good bacteria that live there. You’ve probably heard a lot lately about the importance of gut health and this is one of those things that promote good gut health! It’s also very high in calcium with 123 mg per one cup cooked. For all the Celiac and gluten sensitive people out there, this grain is gluten-free! You can buy it as a whole grain and cook it as you would rice or buy it ground into flour and use it in place of your other flours.
Another ancient grain is farro. Farro originated in Mesopotamia and is actually the name used to describe three different wheat grains. Those three grains are Einkorn, Emmer, and Spelt. Typically in the U.S., the grain that’s most commonly found is the Emmer grain. It’s much like a rice grain that is sold dry and cooked in water until soft and squishy. A typical serving of farro is ¼ cup which contains 170 calories, 34 grams of whole grain carbs, 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of plant-based protein! It also packs in a number of minerals and vitamins including magnesium, zinc and vitamin B3. It’s also a good source of antioxidants which help prevent heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
Have you started to notice a trend here? A lot of the ancient grains are similar to one another but each offer their own unique benefits. Whole grains are all good sources of fiber and plant based protein that helps keep you full long after you’ve eaten them. As always I like to promote a good mix of everything. So if you’re looking for a break from your usual rice or quinoa, try swapping them out for some of these ancient grains. I challenge you to try out a new grain each week for the next month and see how you feel and find some new favorites to add to your pantry!