Missing carbs? Forget bog standard rice or wheat, the nutrition world is going mad for a new breed of super grains. Not only unprocessed and low in calories, these keep you full for longer, provide energy and help you flex your healthy culinary muscles at dinner parties. MICHAEL JONES, a public health and sports nutritionist has the lowdown on what to do with them
What’s the hype about? Pronouced ‘keen-wah’, it looks like a grain but it’s actually a seed. It’s high in protein, gluten free and is now readily available in supermarkets. It is also a good source of iron and fibre – a great option for vegetarians.
How to cook it Boil in water for ten minutes, drain and leave to cool. Rip some parma ham, fresh mint, torn mozzarella, quartered nectarine and mix through for a quick lunch.
What’s the hype about? A delicious and nutritious grain made by roasting young, green wheat. It’s low GI, so releases energy slowly and is also low in carbohydrates and high in fibre so a good choice for the management of diabetes. Some research has associated Freekah with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer.
How to cook it Rinse first before adding to a pan with three times the volume of salted water or stock. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20-25 mins. Can be added to soups, included as a side dish or used to jazz up a salad.
What’s the hype about? Similar to spelt, Farro is an ancient strain of hard wheat grown back in the day in Western Asia. Loved in Italy, Farro has a characteristic nutty flavor and chewy texture. This grain’s structure helps maintain its nutrient quality, rich in fibre and protein and a great source of magnesium and B vitamins.
How to cook it Farro takes a bit longer to cook than other grains, go for semi-pearled which will take less time to cook than whole. Add the amount needed, cover with water and simmer for up to 40 minutes, they’re cooked when the grains are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid.
What’s the hype about? Chia is a small black and white edible seed originating from a desert plant grown in Mexico. Chia seeds pack quite a nutritional punch. Containing protein, fibre and carbohydrates whilst providing omega-3-fatty acids, calcium and antioxidants.
How to cook it Add raw to soups or gravy, this will fortify your cooking with calcium, omega-3s and antioxidants providing a healthy alternative to cornstarch or thickening agents. One tablespoon if the black seeds soaked for 20 minutes in water and drunk can help reduce hunger pangs and keep blood sugar stable. Also great in breakfast smoothies.
What’s the hype about? A broad-leaved bush plant with a brightly coloured flower. The seeds are within the flower head. Interestingly this grain has more nutritional similarities with dark green leafy vegetables than typical cereals or grains. Amaranth contains significant amounts of the amino acid lysine, about 4 times as much calcium as wheat and twice as much iron and magnesium.
How to cook it Pop into a skillet and cook like popcorn as a quick afternoon snack. Amaranth can also be simmered like other grains and included in soups, salads and side dishes.
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