From a historical perspective, mankind has been eating grains since about 75,000 years ago in Western Asia. Many of these ancient grains are ancestors of today’s wheat and barley. However, many people don’t know about the differences between oats, rye, and wheat found in today’s modern muesli and granola. Learning about the different types can help you make healthier food choices and jazz up your cooking.
However, cooking different grains from scratch can be difficult because they typically require varying ratios of water and heat. To make this task easier, an inexpensive rice cooker might have settings specific to the type of grain you’re after. Whether you’re cooking up pancakes or oatmeal, it’s a lot easier to get the balance right when it comes to incorporating ancient grains.
Spelt flour is a fantastic alternative to use in baked goods for those with wheat allergies. Power-packed with protein and fiber, this special grain that has been cultivated since 5000BC brandishes a sweet and nutty flavor that can add a twist to classic recipes. Some of the simplest recipes you can make with spelt include bread and cinnamon cookies. To take the natural flavors and health benefits of your spelt baked goods up a notch, you can make them with honey and sea salt, which are both capable of improving skin health and digestion and regulating blood pressure.
Barley is often referred to as a super grain due to its numerous health benefits. It was originally harvested in Ethiopia and Southeast Asia, where it has been cultivated for over 10,000 years. It has a chewy texture and is often found in bread, beer, and soup dishes. However, you can also incorporate barley flour in baked goods like healthier muffins and pancakes, or barley flakes which can be added to granola and porridge. For those who are on a diet, it can also help with weight loss and controlling blood sugar levels.
Rye makes a good substitute for rice in salads and can be also used to make a fantastic risotto or porridge dish. Research shows that it also makes for a more satisfying breakfast, having “prolonged satiating properties up to 8 hours after consumption, compared to reﬁned wheat bread.” Furthermore, another study found that sourdough bread consisting of whole-grain rye best controlled blood sugar and regulated appetite. It has also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and overall body weight.
If you’re used to eating fluffy white rice, making the switch to whole grains and ancient change can be a bit of a challenge. However, starting with the familiar like brown or wild rice instead of white rice can help ease you in. Being adventurous and trying out different grains to find out which you like best can help you find your new favorite.
For a broad selection of granola ingredients and more, check out our page for flakes, oats, and flour that you can incorporate into your daily meals. Soon enough, you’ll start looking forward to meal prep in your kitchen as your palette becomes broader.