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Discover the unique flavors of ancient grains: these easy-to-incorporate gluten-free grains transform ordinary dishes into highly nutritious and exotic dining experiences.

Ancient grains have steadily been making their way into crackers, breads, and other commercially-made products. Unlike corn, wheat, and rice, which have been selectively bred and modified, these grains remain unchanged for the thousands of years they have been around, and many are gluten-free. Their nutrient value is high; containing protein, calcium, iron, B vitamins, fiber and other vitalizing micronu-trients, such as copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. Their flavor profiles offer an exciting opportunity to transform tried-and-true dishes into culinary adventures.

As with other grains, using the whole grain provides the most nutrition. These versatile grains can be used in a variety dishes. Gluten-free buckwheat (actually a seed), has a slightly peppery flavor and can be an interesting substitute for rice.

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"Buckwheat is nutty, chewy and packed with fiber and protein," says senior dietitian Dana Hunnes, RD, PhD, UCLA Medical Center. "It's really good when boiled in vegetable broth, and makes soups very creamy."

Many grocers offer ancient grains as flours and whole grains. Experiment with a variety of them to expand your culinary palate as well as your nutritional intake.

The Goodness Inside

Quinoa originated in Central America, where it was a staple of the Incas. Technically a seed, gluten-free quinoa is a complete protein, as well as a source of iron, zinc, phytonutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids. Preparation is fast and easy: Rinse quinoa thoroughly, bring a 2-to-l ratio of liquid to quinoa to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, and leave covered on the stove for 5 to 10 minutes, until excess water is absorbed. The finished product should be fluffy and slightly translucent. White quinoa is the most mild-tasting, while red and black quinoas have a more pronounced, earthy flavor.

Amaranth was eaten in Central and South America for several millennia--the Aztecs included it in their religious ceremonies. Similar to ground cornmeal in texture and grain size, amaranth has a sweet flavor and becomes slightly gelatinous when prepared. Add a few tablespoons of amaranth to thicken soup or stew, or use it to make a satisfying breakfast porridge (see recipe). Amaranth is an excellent source of calcium, providing three times that of other grains. It also contains potassium and phosphorus.

Teff hails from Ethiopia and is used to make their spongy bread called injera. "The benefit of teff is that it is high in protein, iron, and fiber," says Hunnes. "When fermented to make injera, it has a sourdough-like flavor." Unfermented, the flavor is mild and slightly sweet. Teff flour can be used for breads, cookies, and other baked goods.

Fiber-Rich Grains

Enjoy experimenting with these ancient grains, and know that they add to your daily dose of fiber as well as other important nutrients. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that total fiber intake for adults older than 50 should be at least 30 grams per day for men and 21 grams for women. Fiber-rich foods can prevent constipation, and lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. They also help you feel fuller longer, which can help you lose excess weight.
AMARANTH BREAKFAST BOWL
Ingredients:
* 1/2 cup dry amarant
* 1 cup almond milk or coconut milk
* 1 cup water
* 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or pecans
* 1/2 cup diced pear or plum, or pomegranate seeds
* Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or ginger
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Steps:
1. Combine amaranth with milk and water in a medium saucepan over
medium-high heat; stir occasionally as it comes to a boil, then reduce
heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Add additional water as needed until amaranth resembles porridge.
3. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to stand, covered, for an
additional 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Top with any combination of nuts, fruit, and spices desired.
Yield: 2 servings
Nutritional information per serving (including walnuts and pear): 253
calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 9 g protein, 41g
carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 90 mg sodium
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Title Annotation:NUTRITION
Publication:Healthy Years
Date:Sep 1, 2017
Words:673
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