grains

Ancient grains are deemed as the next big superfoods—and with good reason. Not only are they packed with nutrients, these grains can even help you lose weight and maintain a healthy body. Revisit the uses of these tried and tested grains to learn how to stay fit without adopting the latest fad diet.

1. Amaranth

amarnath

This pseudo-cereal is an age-old South American grain and a healthy alternative to rice. Not only is it wheat and gluten free, amaranth is packed with protein and is believed to strengthen and tone the body.  This grain is also loaded with a high concentration of amino acids, which are essential for brain development.

If you like earthy flavors, you will enjoy the rich, malty, and nutty taste of amaranth.This iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and vitamin C-rich grain can be cooked with vegetables or chicken for a wholesome meal, or can even be added to soups and salads. Another quick way to consume this hearty grain is it to eat it as you would cereal- with milk and nuts, for breakfast. Amaranth does require quite a bit of water to cook properly, and can become sticky if overcooked.

Another quick way to consume this hearty grain is it to eat it as you would cereal—with milk and nuts, for breakfast. Amaranth does require a bit of water to cook properly, and can become sticky if overcooked.

2. Spelt

spelt

Spelt is another healthy replacement for pasta or rice. Since it belongs to the wheat family and has a slightly sweet flavor. This grain can also be used to make all the usual, mouth-watering goodies that otherwise make us pack on the pounds, such as muffins, pancakes, waffles and even good old bread.

Popular in medieval times, spelt is rich in fiber, protein and iron, with a nutty overtone. It is more easily digested than modern wheat too, and can be found these days in cereals, crackers, breads and pastas.

(A word of caution: spelt is not gluten-free!)

3. Polenta

polenta

Those who enjoy eating corn will love this ancient grain. Created from ground white and yellow corn (without its germ), polenta is used in many North Italian dishes.

It is a hearty food that is also rich in complex carbohydrates and protein. Even better, it is gluten-free, and a good source of Vitamins A and C. Polenta made from whole grain corn is the healthiest, and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways: baked, boiled, or even grilled. With polenta, you can give in to those carb cravings guilt-free!

4. Quinoa

quinoa

As one of the hottest products on the shelves, quinoa is being rediscovered by amateur and professional chefs alike.  It tastes delicious with fresh, leafy vegetables and is another healthy alternative to rice. It cooks just like rice too, in about 15 minutes with water on a stovetop. In fact, when cooked, it looks quite fluffy.

Quinoa boasts of being a complete protein and is known to boost immunity, build muscle and regulate hormone production.

A fun fact about this superfood: It is gluten-free, easy-to-digest and is a tough grain—one that is known to survive the blazing sun and intense frost in the Andes, where it is cultivated. It is no wonder, then, that quinoa was dubbed the “mother of all grains” by the Incas and was even considered sacred by the civilization, who used it for a number of ceremonies. There are over 120 varieties of quinoa grown today, ranging in color from pale yellow to deep red.

5. Kamut

kamut

A distant cousin of modern wheat, Kamut is an ancient Egyptian grain that is rich in amino acids, proteins and minerals. Thanks to the presence of selenium, in particular, it is also filled with antioxidants that boost and protect the immune system.

Since it is high in essential fatty acids, kamut can also help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.

Additionally, if you have a sweet tooth, you are in for a treat! Kamut is naturally on the sweeter side. Like spelt, this power-packed grain is ideal for baking treats such as pancakes and muffins. Just remember to soak it overnight before cooking it, since it tends to be a little tough.