You’ve probably heard some of the buzz about ancient grains. If you haven’t, that’s because they’re fairly new on the scene. Isn’t that something?
You see, ancient grains are those that have been used by human beings for many centuries, even more than such modern and familiar grains as wheat or barley.
What is interesting about them is that they are coming more and more into the forefront due to increasing diagnoses of gluten intolerance and celiac disease, others eliminating or reducing gluten in their diets by choice, and the people looking for more nutritious alternatives for rice and pasta (gluten-free or not).
So, what will gluten-free ancient grains do for you, and how can you incorporate them into your diet?
8 Truly Gluten-Free Ancient Grains
What are the gluten-free grains and ancient grains that so many people are using in baked goods, salads, flours, as side dishes, and even to make dairy-free “milk”? Here’s a review of the CeliAct Blog’s top eight:
- Amaranth: A favorite of the ancient Aztecs in the years prior to Columbus, this is a grain with a huge amount of protein and fiber. It is rich in calcium too and is even known to reduce cholesterol. Most people using it on a daily basis are grinding it up into fine flour and stirring it into recipes to replace gluten. Some are also just sprinkling it into their gluten-free cereals, beverages, or salads as well.
- Buckwheat: This seed is a close cousin of rhubarb and is entirely gluten-free. It is nutrient-dense and often used as the basis for breads that have a surprisingly great consistency (you know how some gluten-free breads crumble), thanks to the gelatinous reaction when buckwheat meets fluid of any kind.
- Chia: Yes, the seeds used to make the world-famous chia “pets” is also a food source prized by the ancient Mayans, Aztecs, and even the Native Americans. With more calcium than many other food sources, a lot of people add chia seeds to their drinks or juices to thicken them up and create a smoothie consistency.
- Flax: The most well-known grain substitute, flax is an impressive food all around. High in nutrients and protein, it fights many types of disease and is wonderful when used in its seed form and also as flour.
- Millet: Thought to be the world’s first domesticated plant, millet is not just good birdseed! It is also remarkably healthy when ground up as a flour substitute, soaked and turned into “milk”, or stirred directly into gluten-free dough of all kinds.
- Quinoa: As a plant native to South America, this ancient grain has more protein than any of the other grains identified as cereal. It is a relative of spinach and can be used in place of rice or pasta, sprouted and put into wraps and salads, or ground into a meal and used in a gluten-free flour substitute.
- Sorghum: Native to the African continent, sorghum has a history dating back more than five thousand years. It is often used by those with diabetes as well as those with celiac because of the high gluten-free fiber and low carbohydrate content.
- Teff: If you talk to modern athletes who seek out the best foods for energy, you will often hear them speak of teff. It is a native of Ethiopia and is high in nutrients, fiber, and protein. It also has tremendous amounts of iron that allow the body to function well during rigorous exercise. Use it as a flour replacement in any recipe.
These eight ancient grains can really help you get creative if you’re just going gluten-free, or if you’re a gluten-free veteran looking to add a few more nutritious elements to your diet.
These “new” ancient grains are delicious and nutritious, and may be just what you’re looking for.