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Sick of Pasta? Here are 7 Nutrient Rich Grain Alternatives To Include in Your Recipes.

 
What did you eat for breakfast….. toast? how about cereal?
 
How about lunch…. a sandwich or wrap perhaps?
 
And for dinner did it include pasta or noodles?

Now take a look and see what is in common here… Yep, there seems to be a common theme happening of refined wheat products or processed carbohydrates with a lack of whole grains.

Wholegrains are commonly overlooked in our diets but with so many great grain alternatives readily available, it is hard to work out why. 

The key ingredient to eating carbs, begins with reducing your quantity of carb grams and consistently choosing a higher quality of carbs.  I don’t suffer from gluten intolerance but can notice a difference in my digestion and energy levels when I steer away from refined wheat products.  I use the term ‘carb coma’ a lot to describe the after feeling after eating a pasta dish. Eating too many carbs overloads your system and leads to stored body fat, plus some carbs (processed) brings upon blood sugar spikes which then fall. Leaving you tired, and looking for more food.
 
In a nutshell, each opportunity we have to eat – we should make the most of nutritionally dense foods. Carbs are responsible for carrying a large chunk of your nutrients and phytochemicals, so choose wisely. Complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts pack a far more powerful nutritional punch than refined grains, starches and sugars.  The added bonus of water and fibre in these types of carbs helps to slow down the absorption of glucose which lowers the insulin response. It makes sense to eat whole, unrefined foods helps to help satisfy your hunger and keep the munchies at bay.
 
Not only are you enjoying different tastes but by eating a variety of whole grain carbs you are engulfing a wider scope of nutrients.
 

7 Other Nutrient Rich Grain Alternatives To Include in Your Recipes.

Apart from oats, rice and corn, other grains to consider are:

1. Barley

Highest in fibre of all the whole grains.  As barley has an inedible outer hull, the most popular way to buy it is pearled.  This can lower the bran content due to its harshness on the grain so eating hulled barley (the outer husk is carefully removed) or hull less barley are better options. Oprah loves barley for breakfast or try this barley salad with feta and pinenuts

2. Quinoa (keen-wa)

Not technically a grain, quinoa is a relative to beetroot and spinach.  The seed is grown on magenta stalks and there are 120 different varieties ranging in colour.  Quinoa flakes, flour and puffs are becoming increasingly available at health food stores and is one of the only plants foods to boast being a complete protein. How about a quinoa rainbow salad? Perhaps my cocao and puffed quinoa slice
 
cocao and puffed quinoa slice
 
Ingredients
 
+ 10-15 dates (less gives less sweetness)

+ 1 cup shredded coconut

+ 1/4 cup almond meal

 + 3 tbs raw cocao powder

 + 2 tbs coconut oil

+ 1 tsp vanilla paste

+ 1/2 cup puffed quinoa

 How to make

1// In a food processor add the dates and process until finely diced

 2// Add each ingredient in order and process until it is dough like but so it leaves the bowl clean and not too gooey. (add more almond meal if necessary) Place the quinoa puffs in last and mix gently until combined

3// Press out on to a tray and flatten with some baking paper, then roll!

4// Place in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes, then cut into slices

3. Spelt

 
Spelt is a distant relative to wheat and although it does still contain gluten, it doesn’t seem to cause sensitivities in many people who are intolerant of wheat. Due to spelt’s high water solubility, the grain can be absorbed quickly into the body and easily digested.  Spelt has more protein, fats and crude fibre than wheat.  Try these Oatmeal, spelt and honey scones

4. Buckwheat

Buckwheat has no gluten so can be eaten by people with coeliac disease or gluten allergies. It’s a cousin of rhubarb and not technically a grain at all – and certainly not a kind of wheat.  Found most commonly in Japanese soba noodles, buckwheat is the only grain known to have high levels of an antioxidant called rutin.



5. Amaranth
Is actually a highly nutritious seed but called a grain  . A gluten-free food, amaranth is also easily digested, and around 8 x more iron than wheat.  A lively, peppery taste, the protein (a whopping 14%) in amaranth is referred to as “complete” because it has lysine, an amino acid missing or negligible in many grains.  It is popular in cereals, breads, muffins, crackers and pancakes.
 
6. Teff 
 Teff is the smallest known grain in the world, tinier even than a poppy-seed. It’s used most commonly in the flatbread injera, which is eaten across East Africa. Teff is high in iron and calcium and packed full of B vitamins, which makes it great for energy plus it has an estimated 20-30 per cent resistant starch, which is a type of fibre that helps blood sugar management, weight control and maintaining gastrointestinal health. 
 
7. Freekah

Freekah is a hard wheat (often durum wheat) that is harvested when the plant is still young and green, then roasted and rubbed. This unique process gives freekeh its signature smoky flavor. Similar to bulgur wheat, freekeh is often sold cracked into smaller, quicker cooking pieces. 
Try this quick cooking (20-25 minutes) wheat in pilafs or savory freekah salads, or cook it into a delicious porridge. 

Also be on the lookout for Sorghum, Farro, Enkorn, Millet, and Triticale as adventurous substitutes to your pastas and noodles.

 
So next time your out and near a health food store be sure to keep a look out, there are some great recipes (or simply enjoy on their own) out there waiting to be tried!

 
Do you regularly fill up on ‘super’ grains?

 

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