A Guide To Ancient Grains

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Tamar Genger MA, RD
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ancient grains

You might notice a strange sensation the next time you are strolling down the aisle at your local supermarket.

A prehistoric flashback?
Caveman-like confusion?

Rice has gone retro. People are going gaga over ancient grains rich in protein and nutrients, minimally processed and cultivated from rare or obscure regional strains that hearken back to the dawn of creation.

Ancient grains are popping up in breakfast cereals, granola bars, soups, salads and sides. I had to see what all the fuss was about so I ventured down to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to see what’s new (which is actually quite old).  As if traveling back in time, I started to rediscover the foods that my ancestors used to eat.  I also learned how even common foods are getting more interesting with varietals that are healthier and better tasting than ever before. So where do you start?

Iif you are looking to stir up some creativity or conversation around the dinner table, reach beyond the white rice and dig for something ancient. You’ll discover a whole new world of whole grains and dozens of new ways to remake your favorite recipes. I think you will find, like I did, that a night with Uncle Ben isn’t going to cut it anymore.  Ever since I started playing with ancient grains, things have started to get pretty interesting on the side of my plate.

Here is a quick guide to the most common ancient grains available right now: (Click on the image to make it larger)

ancient grains chart

A couple of favorite ancient grain recipes:

Greek Wheat Berry Salad

Farroto With Wild Mushrooms

As seen in Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine (Shavuot 2013) - Subscribe Now.