There are a lot of grains out there, but let's just keep it simple for the time being. This whole new world is overwhelming for a lot of people, so if you are one of those, know you are not alone! I'm going to go over my basic list that I use regularly and sell in my store. These are the grains I teach about in my classes and incorporate in my everyday meals. All of these grains can be ground into flour, too!
Wonderful Whole Wheat
This little grain is so powerful, yet man has totally destroyed it. In its natural state it contains over 25 vitamins and minerals, not to mention lots of fiber from the bran that is only available in flour that has been freshly milled. But, when processed it is completely stripped of all its nutritional value and then a few vitamins are added back to make it enriched. I'm here to tell you that you really do not need to buy flour processed flour ever again.
When whole wheat is processed into white flour you lose the:
Bran - the outer coating of the berry that is essential to good health. Wheat Bran is one of nature's richest sources of natural food fiber. It helps push toxins and waste through the digestive system as quickly as possible. Wheat bran is used as a source of dietary fiber for preventing colon diseases (including cancer), stomach cancer, breast cancer, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids and hiatal hernia. It is also used for treating constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Middlings - This is a highly nutritious layer directly beneath the bran. It contains a high percentage of minerals and vitamins and is sold to ranchers and farmers as livestock feed.
Wheat Germ - This is the most nutrient-rich part of the wheat. Because of the high levels of nutrients it contains, it is extracted from the kernel and sold to make supplements and create healthy meals.
Wheat Germ Oil - This oil is rich in vitamins, but is removed along with the wheat germ to insure longer shelf life. Oils exposed to air oxidize and rapidly turn rancid, giving a bitter taste to foods and become harder to digest. Wheat germ oil is widely used in cosmetics because of its high percentage of vitamin E. So, even whole wheat flour at the store is either lacking in wheat germ and wheat germ oil, or rancid.
You end up with White Flour - Aren't you just so excited now?! Oh the poor wheat berry. What has man done?!! Livestock is getting the good stuff while we are feeding ourselves this white powdery yuck that is almost entirely devoid of nutritional value. It is tasteless and usually flavored with sugars, fats and salt, which are at the root of many of today's diseases: obesity, constipation, diabetes, hypoglycemia, hypertension, heart disease, etc...
That is why I'm here to teach you how to grind your own. Seriously, it takes a couple of minutes..... and, I promise you, its cool. If you want to be part of the "in crowd" you'll be grinding. But, there's a really big world out there besides wheat. Here's a few more little powerhouses to introduce you to......
Oh how I love spelt! Yes, spelt is a form of wheat. Its got gluten and it looks pretty similar. But, if you are wheat intolerant (I'm not saying Ciliac) you might want to give spelt a try. Its higher in protein and amino acids than wheat and is loaded with niacin, phosphorus, manganese and copper....to name a few. You can substitute spelt in place of wheat in all your recipes, but requires less liquid than wheat flour. I use Spelt for most of my cookie and cake baking. Yummy!! The only thing I don't like about spelt is the price. Its about double the cost of wheat, but oh so worth it.
Give me a "K" for my very good friend, Kamut (Ka-moot). Kamut is another one of those grains that is more easily digested than wheat. It makes the nicest velvety flour. My basic bread recipes have a cup of Kamut ground along with the wheat. There is just something about it that is so wonderful. It contains about 40% more protein and 65% more amino acids than wheat. Crack it and cook it into a hot cereal. Add a little coconut oil and some frozen blueberries. Ahhhh YUM! Or, just cook it up and throw it in your salads!
Ahhh, Millet. Now, here is another powerhouse of a grain. But, guess who eats more of it than humans? Birds and chickens! I just don't understand. This little grain is the perfect first-food for babies. Its an alkaline grain, so basically means it keeps the pH levels of our bodies balanced so its an immune builder. Therefore, it is also the perfect food for the elderly and everyone in between! Sorry, birds.....we are taking our food back! It acts as a prebiotic in the intestines to help feed good bacteria that keep the intestines healthy and the immune system primed. Its a great source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, for heart and digestive health. And, just when you think it can't get any better, Millet is Gluten Free!! You can substitute it for rice in most all your recipes or simply eat it plain with a little butter and salt, or agave nectar. Mmmmm!
My FaVoRiTe!! Oh how I love Quinoa (Keen-wah or Keen-What?!! or better yet, Keen-WOW....its up to you). I could eat this everyday. Its gluten free (yay for you gluten free-ers!) and is the only other grain besides Amaranth that is a complete protein. Its at the top of the Super Foods chart. If you had only one food to sustain you, Quinoa could do it. Its an excellent source of protein, vitamin B2, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. It's also a good source of iron, phosphorus, copper, and zinc. It makes a great baby food. You can substitute it for rice in your dishes, eat it with a little butter and salt for lunch with some veggies, or with some agave nectar for a sweet breakfast. My kids have it with agave for a bedtime snack. You make it just like you would rice. 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water with a little sea salt and olive oil. Boil, then let simmer for about 15 minutes. Or, for best results, pressure cook it for 10. Fluff with a fork.
Its sad to think that whenever people think of barley they think of beef-barley soup from a can. I'm here to change that! Barley is one of the richest sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Just 200 grams of barley can contain 55% of the recommended daily fiber intake. And, what's so great is it tastes super delicious! I'll grind a cup or two and mix it in with my wheat flour to give my flour a boost. You can make pilafs out of it and throw it into soups and casseroles. If your recipe calls for rice, use barley!!
Ch-ch-ch-chia! That is exactly what it is! You know if from the Chia Pet. Chia is a seed that surpasses flax. A great source of Omega 3's, but much higher amounts of antioxidants than flax. They are high in protein and very high in fiber. Chia seeds are easy to digest and do not need to be ground or mashed to release their nutritional benefits. One ounce of Chia seeds, roughly 3 tablespoons, contains 160 calories, 10 grams of healthy fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 12 grams of fiber. You can add it to smoothies, top your salads or blend into salad dressings, throw into your yogurt, sprinkle on any cereal or oatmeal, and/or blend into your pancakes, muffins, or cookies!
I say FAIR-oh but its actually pronounce FAHR-oh. But, however you choose to pronounce it it really doesn't matter. Its another grain that needs to make it to your pantry and into your cooking! Its pearled, meaning the outer husk is taken off to shorten the cooking time, so its a breeze to cook up. Its also one of those breakfast, lunch, or dinner grains! Add some spices and veggies or added to soups and salad. A little maple syrup and some chopped apples and cinnamon make for a divine breakfast! Per 1/4 cup (dry) Farro is loaded with 170 calories, 5 grams fiber, and 7 grams of protein.
That is my condensed glorious-grains list. I'll add more as time goes on. Have questions? Just ask!