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"Super Grains" and Quinoa

This week’s addition of our quinoa and brown rice stuffed peppers has us wanting to highlight some “super grains” you may not be familiar with. 

Quinoa’s popularity is certainly no secret: search it online and you’ll find recipes for quinoa burgers, pizza crusts, sushi and even desserts. But, quinoa has also served to introduce us to a world of other ancient grains that are all gluten-free and protein- and nutrient-rich. Interestingly, while quinoa is often referred to as a grain it’s actually a seed, although since it is prepared and eaten like a grain, a more appropriate term is “pseudo grain.” Regardless, a few new “super grains” (denoted as such for their great taste, versatility and health benefits) may be sharing the shelves with our beloved quinoa in the very near future.

Check out this list to be up on the latest additions to the “super grain” trend:

Barley contains tons of insoluble and soluble fiber. A half cup has, at least, three grams of fiber while brown rice contains less than two grams. Barely is touted for lowering cholesterol, and credited with helping immunity, digestion and regularity. This grain comes in pearl or hulled forms, but the pearled form has less nutritional value.

Rye isn’t just a bread loved by many Rueben fans. The Rye grain has a reputation for reducing body weight, controlling blood sugar and suppressing hunger. Experts believe that rye may also be helpful in reducing the effect of genetic diseases.

Freekeh has about four times as much fiber as most other grains and a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar. Its taste is comparable to barley.

Kamut is an ancient version of wheat, with a taste much like that of brown basmati rice. Though it has less fiber than traditional wheat, it has about 30% more protein, as well as several fatty acids, meaning it will provide you with sustained energy.

Teff is basically quinoa’s twin: it tastes and cooks nearly the same (actually, it cooks slightly faster) and is gluten-free.

Millet can be fluffy like rice or quinoa or creamy if you add more water and stir it often. It’s also a complete protein and heart-healthy due to its high magnesium content.

Bulgur is very much like steel-cut oatmeal and cooks super quickly, too. Note that it’s not gluten-free, though. Try it instead of oats in these overnight oatmeal recipes. Letting the bulgur soak overnight in the fridge leaves you with a cool and delicious grab-n-go for hot summer days.

Buckwheat is actually gluten-free, even though it has ‘wheat’ in its name. It’s similar to porridge when cooked, and its mild flavor makes buckwheat flour great in pancake and bread recipes.

Fonio (Africa’s oldest cereal) has gone relatively unnoticed, but it is said to be the most nutritious grain on earth. Plus, the Dogon people of Mali believe an explosion of a single fonio grain started the universe, so there’s that. Look for it on store shelves in the near future…

Take this information and branch out from your everyday grains like whole wheat and brown rice.  The “super grain” train has left the station!