Life After Wheat And Oats: Exploring Different Grains
Patricia Zifferblatt | August 5, 2008

We’re often asked about grains that are alternatives to wheat and oats. The Internet and health foods stores are full of different kinds of grains, and I’m constantly amazed when I go to the store and read nutrition labels. In addition to the already commonly known grains such as wheat, rice, corn, and barley, there are so many more grains to try! So here goes:

Amaranth
The word amaranth comes from the Greek for “one that does not wither” and is also known as “the crop of the future.” This grain is grown throughout Asia and Africa and contains very valuable nutrition in the form of a complete protein.

Buckwheat
A grain grown in North America since Colonial times, buckwheat has high levels of antioxidants to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. This grain was typically grown to feed animals, but since it has been found to be beneficial to humans, many people have started including it in their diet in the form of buckwheat groats.

Bulgur Wheat
A grain common to the Mediterranean region, bulgur wheat is easy to prepare and high in fiber; it has become a staple in diets that include pilafs and tabbouleh.

Quinoa
Pronounced KEE-no-uh; this grain was grown in South America over 6,000 years ago and was a staple of the Incas. It’s known as the mother of all grains because it contains complete proteins, is gluten free, and is easy to digest.

Spelt
This grain goes back to the Bronze Age, through the Medieval Ages, and down to present times in Central Europe. It’s an excellent source of protein and fiber as well as B vitamins.

Teff
This grain originated about 4,000 B.C. in what is now known as Ethiopia and Eritrea. Actually it’s a grass that produces grain which cooks like a cereal or porridge and is high in the mineral iron. It has a sweet flavor, is gluten-free, and makes a good choice for people with celiac disease and other forms of gluten intolerance.

So there are some alternatives to the typical grains you may eat. The advantage of some of these grains is that they pick up flavors easily while cooking--using the right stock and a variety of spices will give you tasty alternatives to the grains you eat every day.
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