Ancient grains that can liven up your menu


Start with barley. Black barley has a nutty, chewy consistency that works well in soup. A cooked quarter cup has a whopping 11 grams of fiber and 9 grams of protein. This grain will really stay with you.

Another great grain is buckwheat. There is actually no wheat in it, but like barley, it is a high fiber, high protein grain that contains lots of minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium and zinc. Try using buckwheat groats like oatmeal. Add fruit, nuts and milk and enjoy for breakfast.

Known as farro in Europe, spelt comes from the whole wheat family, so it does contain gluten. But it is also a grain high in B-vitamins, protein and fiber.

Kamut spirals work well with a spicy peanut sauce and broccoli for a hot or cold salad. They are very filling with 6 grams of fiber and 10 protein grams per serving. They're also packed with minerals like iron and zinc.

Quinoa is a seed stemming from South America known as the "mother of all grains" by the Incas. High in iron and also a complete protein, it yields a light fluffy grain that is nice in salads or a side dish.

Pin-sized, tiny, tiny teff is an Ethiopian grain often made into spongy bread, but can also be sprinkled in salad or added to soup. We tried the package's pudding recipe that calls for maple syrup, vanilla and cocoa powder for a high fiber dessert your family might enjoy. It contains a small amount of gluten and is an excellent source of fiber and iron.

If by chance you don't feel like cooking but want to try some of these age old grains, you'll find breads, cereals and bars at many stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Markets.

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