Grains and carbs, in general, have been demonized in the past and we have been told that they are bad for us.
While yes, there are many processed carbs that are not healthy for us, there are many carbs and grains that are good for us.
Your body needs carbs because it is our body’s main source of fuel to provide the energy we need. All of the tissues and cells in our bodies use glucose for energy. Carbs are needed for the central nervous system, kidneys, brain and muscles to function properly. They are also very important in intestinal health and waste elimination.
Adding a variety of whole grains to your diet is just as important as adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to your daily meals. Not only to add variety to your diet so you don’t get bored but also because each grain offers different nutritional advantages, just like fruits and veggies.
I want to share some benefits of lesser known or at least lesser talked about grains so you can start adding them to your diet.
High in magnesium which is known to help regulate blood pressure. Amaranth is technically a seed and is part of the spinach family but is used like a grain (same as quinoa which is also technically a seed). Amaranth is tiny and great to use as a thick creamy porridge. I like to use it as a replacement to cream of wheat or grits. It offers a sweet mild flavor.
Super high in fiber and one of my personal favorites. It keeps me feeling full for a long time. It is also rumored to help prevent weight gain, high cholesterol & high blood sugar. This is a mild grain. I like adding it to soups & salads like this one here and here.
High in prebiotics (which is a type of fiber that helps feed the good bacteria, or probiotics, in our gut). Buckwheat is gluten free and technically a seed as well. It is related to rhubarb. It has a deep nutty flavor and pairs well with hearty vegetables. I like to make it like you would a risotto or put it into soups & stews.
Very high in protein, 1 cup has almost 10 grams of protein. Kamut aids in building and maintaining muscle mass. This is another great grain to add to salads and would be a great substitute for barley in the two recipes links above. Kamut is a chewy grain that is slightly sweet and almost buttery in flavor.
High in antioxidants which even remains so after baking, which is unusual. Rye has a much stronger flavor to me than other grains and seems to have a love or hate relationship with many. If you want to give it a try I would recommend slowly replacing whole wheat with ground rye in baking. So if a recipe calls for 2 cups whole wheat flour replace 1/3 cup of that with rye flour and see how you like it. Gradually increase it and see how you do.
Honestly, this is not one I have tried before but I do know it is gluten free, high in calcium and vitamin C, so it is great for those of you who might be dairy free or who like to limit your dairy intake. I have heard that this is a great grain to add to soups and stews to thicken them.
Tiny gluten free grain high in magnesium, a mineral that aids in nerve and muscle function. I usually use millet as a creamy warm cereal or in my oatmeal. However if you make the grain like rice (without stirring it during the cooking process and then just fluff it with a fork after it’s cooked) you’ll get fluffy individual grains that you can use in a recipe like this.
Whole grains which contain the bran, germ & endosperm keep you feeling full longer because they take longer to digest. They help keep your blood pressure in check & keep your blood sugar levels from spiking. I often cook my grains in bulk for the week or enough to store in the freezer.
Most of your whole grains you can find in the “bulk” section of your grocery store or in the aisle with the dried beans. Some of the really less common ones you’ll have to get from a health food store.
Hopefully, this has helped you know a little bit more about some of these grains so it is easier to incorporate them into your diet. What is your favorite way to use whole grains, let me know in the comments below.
What is your favorite way to use whole grains? Let me know in the comments below.