Health and Fitness

Alternative Ancient Grains

If you’re looking for an alternative to wheat, rye, or barley because you want to avoid gluten, you wish to reduce your consumption of these grains, or if you simply want to try new grains outside of those three in this lifelong health journey, take a look at what many are calling “Ancient Grains”.

These particular grains are referred to as ancient because they’ve changed very little since they were first cultivated, unlike wheat, which has been bred and modified heavily. Technically, rye and barley have also remained relatively unchanged for thousands of years, but they do contain gluten, so if you have a gluten allergy or would like to avoid gluten-containing grains then it’ll be best to replace them with the following “ancient grains”.

Sorghum, millet, teff, quinoa, amaranth, kamut, buckwheat, and quinoa, which is considered a “pseudo-grain” since it isn’t a grain in the technical sense, but it’s consumed like one. Now, even ancient grains may contain gluten, so if you cannot consume it, then amaranth, teff, quinoa, millet and buckwheat will be your go-to.

Now, in my experience, I have seen all of these grains sold at various health food stores like Sprouts, Lucky’s Market and Whole Foods, as well as regular grocery stores like Krogers/King Soopers, and even Target and sometimes Wal-Mart. You can also buy them online from places such as Amazon, nuts.com, iherb.com. The latter option may be more convenient, and even cheaper if you cannot find a store that sells them in bulk. However, keep in mind the weather in your area and delivery time. If you have Amazon prime, that may be your best online option for fast shipping to avoid degradation of the grain in transit. Always be sure to check the expiration date whether buying online or in store.

And don’t skimp out on local, smaller grocery stores or farmer’s markets in your area. Check out the smaller mom and pop grocery stores or foreign-based stores such as Asian or Jamaican supermarkets. Take a look around and compare prices, and be sure to try out at least more than 1 ancient grain. All of them have different tastes and are cooked differently, so buy small bags if you can and experiment with them to see which ones you like best. And if you’re really looking to get into more advanced cooking with ancient grains, you can try replacing wheat based flour recipes with the flour version of the ancient grains, like amaranth flour. However, keep in mind that because wheat contains gluten and many of the ancient grains do not, it will change everything about how the recipe is done, from cooking time, to texture, to taste, and you may even need to add extra ingredients to make up for the lack of that binding agent. I suggest first starting with recipes that have already been tried and proven with ancient grain flour before experimenting on your own, just so you can get an idea of what you’ll need to do to make it taste delicious no matter what. 

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