Ancient grains exist since beginning of civilisation but where largely ignore by Western countries but things are changing. They are coming back to the front our nutrition.
They are more nutritious and are an interesting addition to our cooking.
What defines an ancient grain:
Ancient grains are sometime called heirloom grains, the term often refers to whole grains that are largely unchanged over the last few centuries. Ancient wheat like spelt, einkorn and emmer fall into that category. But sometimes barley and rye can also be considered heirloom grains.
They can be grains or pseudo-grains like quinoa or teff.
The modern wheat that’s commonly used today isn’t the same as the wheat our ancestors consumed for thousands of years and can not be considered ancient grains (corn, rice are the same)
Some of these cereals and seeds pre date our modern wheat by thousands of years.
Modern wheat has been selectively cultivated and is often heavily refined and hybridized.
Hybridization is the act of crossing two different species of plants with the goal of creating a new variety of plant. This changes the very makeup and structure of the new plant. This has been done to increase productivity. In that process modern wheat has lost nutrients.
Some are naturally gluten free, like amaranth, quinoa, millet and sorghum... but other contain different amounts of gluten like like spelt, einkorn, barley..... . The structure of the gluten is weaker than in modern wheat gluten
Ancient grains are considered to be more natural and healthier, bringing more vitamines, minerals, fibre and protein than modern wheat.
They also have complex flavours…. so don’t hesitate try a few.
Heirloom grains can be cooked and eaten as whole grains, or can be used as flour but whatever the way you use them, they are a good addition to our diet.
The principal ancient grains:
Naturally gluten free.
Grain like seed.
Contains all 9 essential amino acids and lysine (a protein missing in most grains)
Good source of iron, magnesium and phosphorus.
Very high in fiber (3 times of oats) throughout the whole of the grain (it is unusual). It is low in starch, which gives a low glycemic index (GI). High in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Grain like seed
A good source of minerals, manganese, magnesium, copper and dietary fibre. Minerals in cooked buckwheat are well absorbed as buckwheat is low in physic acids. It has a nutty flavour.
Whole buckwheat groats can be found raw or toasted (kasha), the later will have more flavour
For more details on buckwheat: buckwheat-a-pseudo-cereal.html
Ancient wheat originating from Mesopotamia. It contains fibers, antioxidants and minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc
Farro often refers to 3 different grains depending on regions and countries
Einkorn: farro piccolo (triticum monococcum)
Emmer: farro medio (tritium dicoccum)
Spelt: farro grande (tritium spelta)
The Khorasan (or kamut):
Ancient variety of durum (wheat) with a grain (x2 the size of modern wheat). Good sources of protein and dietary fibre and vitamin E. Khorasan wheat gives bread a mild, nutty flavour. The name Kamut is in fact a trademark.
naturally gluten free.
It is one of the oldest cultivated crops. Millet refers not to a single type of grain, rather to a group of small-seeded, annual grasses. Millet also grows very rapidly. Millet is tiny in size and round in shape and can be white, gray, yellow or red. It adds a mild flavour. It is high in minerals
naturally gluten free
grain like seed
contains essential amino acids, . The only plant food that contains complete protein (contains all the essential amino acids) Best grain source of potassium.
For more details: quinoa.html
Low gluten content
Is a grass grown as a grain. Before modern agriculture and transportation rye was the best option for bread baking in a huge swath of northern Europe, from Russia and the Baltic States, west through Poland, Hungary, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands and up into Scandinavia. Rye most often gets processed into flour for bread or fed to livestock.
A good source of soluble fiber, vitamin E, calcium, iron, and potassium
Ancient East African tiny size grain (less than 1mm diameter – similar to a poppy seed). Good source of fibre.. Has a high calcium content.
In Ethiopia, teff is usually ground into flour, but teff is more and more used as an ingredient in pancakes, snacks, breads, cereals and many other products, created for the gluten-free market
Other ancient grains sorghum, bulgur, freekeh, wild rice, oats (I will post soon an article on oat).... be adventurous, try a variety of them to eat the whole spectrum of the nutrients from nature....