Are Ancient Grains Good For You?

Are Ancient Grains Good For You

Should You Eat Ancient Grains

To eat grains or not to eat grains; this seems to be a controversial topic. You can find great arguments in each camp. I have searched both sides and I find merit in each one. The bottom line is you need to do your own research, weigh the pros and cons of eating grains and decide what is right for you. You know your body better than anyone else; listen to what it is telling you.

While the foundation of my family’s diet consists of a wide sampling of organic fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins, and healthy fats, we do eat some whole grains, in moderation.

I love Ancient Grains!


Ancient grains, commonly referred to as heritage grains, can be traced all the way back to the beginning of time. Many are gluten-free and can be used in a multiple of ways.

The best feature about ancient grains is they have remained essentially intact over the last hundreds of years, as opposed to their modern counterparts, which have been significantly cross-bred and modified.

Because they are high in fiber and packed with minerals, ancient grains are without a doubt, worth further exploration.


Five Ancient Grains


amaranth Are Ancient Grains Good for You

Amaranth can trace its roots back to ancient Mesoamerica. Like quinoa, it is considered a self-contained complete protein; Amaranth contains all nine essential amino acids and lysine. It is a great source of iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.

Fun Fact: In South America, vendors sell Amaranth like popcorn

Characteristics

  • earthy and peppery flavor
  • tender when eaten in small quantities; thick and dense when served in larger quantities
  • best used for pancakes and quick breads
  • naturally gluten-free

How To Use Amaranth 

Amaranth flour is versatile, which means it can easily be substituted into many of your favorite pancake and quick bread recipes. When using Amaranth in a quick bread recipe, using 100% Amaranth flour will produce a dense, heavy bread. For a lighter bread, I recommend using a 1:1 ratio of Amaranth flour and a good quality organic all-purpose flour. Served in its whole grain form, amaranth can be cooked like rice, couscous, or quinoa.

Amaranth Pancakes

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 332 kcal
Author: Kathy

Light and fluffy gluten-free pancakes

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup amaranth flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp butter melted

Instructions

  1. In another bowl, combine amaranth flour, baking soda, and salt.
  2. Add the maple syrup into the soured milk and mix well. Whisk in the egg and the melted butter. Pour this mixture into dry ingredients and stir to combine.

  3. Lightly grease a skillet with a touch of butter (see not below).
  4. On medium-low heat, cook the pancakes on one side until golden., and then flip to cook until the other side is golden

  5. In a medium size bowl, combine the milk and apple cider vinegar, letting it sit for 10 minutes to sour the milk.

Recipe Notes

You can use cooking spray if you want; however, I prefer to use real fats and butter to grease my pans. To grease the pan, you can use whatever butter remained in the bowl after pouring the melted butter into the mixture. I find using a pastry brush works well in this step.


Teff   Are Ancient Grains Good For You

Teff is used most often to make flatbread in East Africa. It is naturally gluten-free and a great source of iron and fiber. Teff flour comes in two varieties, ivory and brown. Brown teff sports a hazelnut, almost chocolate flavor, with a moist texture. Ivory teff has a mild taste.

Characteristics

  • brown teff sports a hazelnut, almost chocolate flavor, and has a moist texture
  • ivory teff has a mild toasted and earthy flavor
  • tender when eaten in small quantities; thick and dense when served in larger quantities
  • best used for muffins, quick breads, porridge, stews, stuffing, and pilaf
  • naturally gluten-free

How To Use Teff 

Both varieties of teff are versatile, which means they can easily be substituted into many of your favorite recipes. Whole grain teff is simple and quick to cook, and tastes delicious when paired with one or more of the following spices: cilantro, basil, Chile powder, cinnamon, garlic, cardamom, and ginger. Teff flour can easily be used to make excellent pancakes, pie crusts, and cookies.

Are Ancient Grains Good For You

Traditional Ethiopian Flatbread (Injera)

Course: Snack
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 1 flat bread serving
Calories: 150 kcal

This recipe takes a bit of planning ahead, but it is well worth the time and effort to make this delicious, gluten-free authentic flatbread.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups teff flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp` baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • coconut oil to lightly grease the pan

Instructions

  1. Place Teff flour in a large glass bowl, add water and stir well.
  2. Cover with a cheesecloth or towel (I find an inexpensive cotton cloth baby diaper works just as well) and place on the counter and let it sit for 24 hours. Do not disturb the batter.

  3. After 24 hours, your batter will be alive and fermenting. 

  4. Bring a large pan to medium heat, and very lightly, coat the pan with coconut oil.

  5. Stir in the salt, and season with more to your taste. You should barely taste the saltiness.  Stir in the baking powder. Don't be alarmed; the batter will deflate when you stir it.

  6.  Pour enough batter into the pan to cover the entire surface.  Cover with a lid, a cookie sheet, or aluminum foil. This is to keep a lot of moisture in the pan to prevent the flatbread from cracking. This flatbread is not flipped because you aren’t supposed to brown it’s underside.  However, I like the taste of it browned, so I tend to cook it a bit longer than what the recipe calls for.

  7. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. The top will bubble like pancakes and begin to dry out. The flatbread is finished when the top is dry and the edges begin to curl. Carefully use a thin spatula to remove the flatbread from the pan.

  8. Cool and place on a plate and repeat, layering cooled flatbread with parchment paper until you use up all the batter.

Recipe Notes

Three tips for making foolproof Ethiopian Flatbread

1. Consistency

The batter should be between  the consistency of  crêpe batter and pancake batter. If it is too thin, the bubbles won’t form. If it is too thick, it won’t look like traditional flatbread. 

2. The Pan

Use a large, short sided pan. You will achieve the best results if you use a nonstick pan or a really well seasoned crêpe pan. If your pan does not have a cover, you can cover loosely with aluminum foil.

3. Cool before stacking

Absolutely cool the flatbread before stacking or attempting to move it around much. These flatbreads are super sticky when warm, but they become easy to handle once they reach room temperature. After they are cool you, can stack or roll the flatbread into tubes.


Quinoa   Are Ancient Grains Good For You

Although quinoa is quite often called a grain, it is really an edible seed, very similar to beets, chard, and spinach. It is simple to cook, full of essential proteins, gluten-free, and comes in a variety of colors. Whole grain quinoa is great served as a hot side dish, or added cold in salads.

Characteristics

  • quinoa has a nutty flavor, and a light, fluffy texture
  • quinoa seeds have a natural bitter coating, which is called saponin; therefore, it requires a good rinsing before use
  • quinoa flour has a bold and nutty flavor
  •  is best used for muffins and quick breads
  • naturally gluten-free
  • one of the world’s best sources of potassium

How To Use Quinoa 

All varieties are versatile, which means they can easily be substituted into many of your favorite recipes. Whole grain quinoa is simple and quick to cook, and tastes delicious in pilafs, soups, salads, casseroles, and snack bars. Quinoa flour can be used for a variety of baked goods: everything from muffins, to cookies, to delicious brownies.

Banana Chocolate Chip Quinoa Muffins

Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 10 muffins
Calories: 187 kcal

These muffins are healthy, moist, gluten-free, not too sweet, and chocolaty.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup mashed bananas 2 small or 1 large
  • 1 tbs flaxseed meal
  • 2 tbs warm water
  • 1/8 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3-5 tbs almond milk divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed banana, flaxseed meal, water, maple syrup, vanilla and 3 tablespoons almond milk. Beat until smooth. Set aside and let rest for 5 minutes.

  3. Once rested, add in flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon to the bowl with the wet ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. If batter feels dry, add more almond milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the batter resembles a thick pancake batter. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon muffin mixture into prepared pan, filling each cup ¾ of the way full.
  5. Bake on center rack fro 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
  6. Let cool in the pan for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.
  7. These muffins taste the best when served slightly warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to try another quinoa recipe? Click below!

Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowl


Spelt  Are Ancient Grains Good For You

Although spelt is a cereal grain in the wheat family, it is not wheat. It is an ancient grain that has been cultivated for centuries. Although spelt has been well tolerated by some people who have problems with wheat, it contains gluten; therefore, it should be avoided by people with gluten allergies or celiac disease.

Characteristics

  • spelt has a sweet, nutty flavor, and it has a milder taste than whole wheat
  • in its whole grain form, spelt looks similar to barley and has a redish color
  • it’s a lighter grain than wheat, therefore, baked goods made with spelt are generally soft and tender
  • best used in pancakes, quick breads, and muffins
  • a good source of magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamin E, and B-complex vitamins
  • may be easier to digest than wheat flour
  • not gluten-free

How To Use Spelt

Spelt does contain gluten; therefore it can easily be used as a substitute for other flours. For cakes and breads, I recommend using 50% spelt. Because spelt is more water soluble than wheat, less liquid is needed in most recipes. Spelt has a high concentration of a protein called, gliadin. This is what makes your dough stretch, causing it to spread a lot. A good rule of thumb is, begin by using 25% less liquid than the recipe calls for, and then slowly add small amounts until your dough or batter reaches the desired consistency.

Easy Spelt Everything Crackers

Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 7 crackers
Calories: 104 kcal
Author: Kathy

Try this crispy treat with your favorite soup or dip. 

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Ingredients

Everything Topping

  • 1 tbs dried minced onions
  • 1 tbs dried minced garlic
  • 1 tbs poppy seeds
  • 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds

Cracker Dough

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup spelt flour plus more to flour the flat surface
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve the salt in 1/2 cup of cold water. Stir in the spelt flour in small amounts until combined. Add more flour  or water if needed. Knead the dough a few turns until a ball forms. Do not over kneed; this will cause your dough to crumble.

  2. Flour a flat surface and roll out the dough, using as much flour as needed to prevent sticking. Continue rolling until the dough covers a 12 x 15 baking sheet from edge to edge. Do your best to roll dough as thin as possible, because the thicker areas will become quite hard when baked. Using a spray bottle filled with water, spray the dough to give it a glossy finish. Score the dough all over with a fork. If you choose, sprinkle with Everything Topping. For even crackers, score the dough into grids.

  3. Bake until the dough is crisp and golden and snaps apart, 15 to 25 minutes. (Check after 10 minutes to make sure it does not overcook.) Break into pieces and serve.

To Make Everything Topping

  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container.

Recipe Notes

Rolling Tip: Flour an overturned 12-by-15-inch cookie sheet and roll out the dough on top of it, using as much flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll until the dough covers the sheet from edge to edge.

Baking Time: Bake these crackers anywhere from 15-25 minutes. You know your oven. Check in 10 minute intervals.


Einkorn     Are Ancient Grains Good For You

Einkorn is considered the most ancient grain; historians can trace its roots back thousands of years, to the Fertile Crescent. It has a higher protein count than modern wheat, and it offers a rich supply of carotenoids, which have powerful antioxidant properties. Einkorn is called a covered wheat, which means it must be hulled after harvesting because its kernels remain inside their coverings.

Characteristics

  • whole grain einkorn berries have a  nutty flavor, and bread made with einkorn flour has a light, rich taste
  • einkorn berries are easy to cook
  • einkorn flour has a soft texture, making it suitable for breads, cookies, pancakes, and muffins
  • a great source of iron, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B-6, and carotenoids
  • may be easier to digest than wheat flour
  • not gluten-free

How To Use Einkorn

Einkorn does contain gluten; therefore it can easily be used as a substitute for other wheat flours. Although some einkorn varieties are suitable for baking bread, I recommend using a recipe specifically created for its use. Einkorn wheat berries can be easily cooked and used in pilafs, soups, salads, casseroles, and sauces. Einkorn flours makes a rich tasting pancake.

Are Ancient Grains Good For You

Einkorn Pancakes With Fresh Strawberries

Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 5 About 10 pancakes (serving size-2 pancakes
Calories: 363 kcal
Author: Kathy

These pancakes taste great topped with your favorite fruit and nut butter. 

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup einkorn flour plus more if batter is too thin; make adjustments if needed
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbs 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider
  • fresh organic strawberries
  • 1/4 cup nut butter of your choice
  • 1/4 cup raw honey

Instructions

  1. Mix together the honey and nut butter until well-blended. Set aside.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.

  3. Add the almond milk, vanilla, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and blend together. Let sit for 5–10 minutes, giving the ground chia seeds time to thicken the mixture.

  4. Using a ¼ measuring cup,  scoop out the batter and cook over medium heat in a lightly oiled pan.

  5. Flip when bubbles appear in the middle of each pancake, then cook for another 3–5 minutes on the other side.
  6. Serve with fresh strawberries. Drizzle with nut butter and honey mixture.

Nutritional facts for nut butter sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nutritional facts for pancakes without nut butter sauce


Are Ancient Grains Good For You


Do you eat grains? What is your favorite way to eat them? Let us know your thoughts. Join the discussion!

Kathy

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Author: Kathy

Hi! Welcome to In Abbas Kitchen! I would love to sit with you at my dining room table, getting to know you while we sip hot cups of tea and nosh on slices of warm banana bread. However, since that won't be possible, I'll settle on letting you get to know me.I am passionate about loving God with all of my heart, mind, body, and soul. I love to laugh at myself and with people. I believe laughter is contagious, and it establishes a sense of connection between two people. I love heart-to-heart chats with friends and loved ones because I believe transparency is the foundation of all meaningful relationships. I believe in the power of prayer; God listens. I try to see the good in people, even if I am the only one who can see it. I enjoy food; my food philosophy is to eat clean, whole foods while maintaining proper portion control. I work hard to maintain a realistic balance between healthy salads and not so healthy coffee mocha chunk ice cream. :) I believe moderation is the key to creating lasting healthy eating habits.At In Abba's Kitchen, you will find healthy recipes, Bible studies designed to inspire you to grow in your faith, ideas for wholesome living, and product reviews for my favorite kitchen tools and foods I use. You will also find my weight loss story.Although weight loss is not the basis of this site, it is a major component of my life. My weight loss journey has inspired the creation of this site, and it has given me a new found freedom and confidence. My desire is to walk with you on your journey, helping you with your weight loss struggles, inspiring you to grow in your faith, and helping you to find freedom from the things holding you back from being all you were meant to be.

6 thoughts on “Are Ancient Grains Good For You?”

  1. I enjoyed reading this post, I got inspired to try some of the grains you described. Great with a recipe that helps me to try:-) I only know quinoa earlier and I eat it a lot. But I never baked with it. I usually cook it with onion, garlic and some lemon juice. It’s good to salmon and other fish. I like quinoa a lot so thanks for the tips about how to use it in other ways. I also would like to make the Ethiopian flatbread, sound delicious.

    1. Hi Linda,

      I enjoy eating quinoa too. My favorite is the tri-color blend. I think it has more flavor than the regular creamy colored quinoa everyone is used to. I have never tried quinoa the way you make it. I love cooking with onions and garlic, and lemon juice is the best. I’m going to have to try it. Thanks for for sharing it.

      Kathy

  2. Thanks for all the great info about ancient grains! I love how this post is organized, you go into details about the history of the grain, how it tastes, how to use it, and then a yummy recipe! And opportunities to buy some of these alternative flours. There’s a pizza chain in DC called &pizza; that sells ancient grain pizza crust, and it’s absolutely delicious. So much more flavor than wheat flour.

    1. Hello Penelope,

      Ancient grains pizza sounds amazing! If I am ever in the DC area, I will have to find the place and try their pizza. You are right. Generally, ancient grain flours have a better all around taste than regular wheat flours.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Kathy

  3. Kathy,
    It’s nice to see such an informative post about grain.
    I’m born into a family where my parents and my grandparents are farmers. We eat a variety of grains on daily basis. I’d definitely recommend eating these ancients grains to anybody out there. In the U.S, quinoa should be the most accessible grain in these list. You can find it in almost all the grocery store around.
    How can you find spelt grain in the U.S ? I don’t think it’s widely available anywhere except online

    1. Hello Marvin,

      Fortunately I have been able to find spelt flour at my local food mart. Bob’s Red Mill manufactures it. However, you are correct, it is difficult to find some of these ancient grains other than online. Sometimes I have been able to find them in a local whole foods co-op.

      Thnaks for stopping by!

      Kathy

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