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Adding Ancient Grains to Your Diet

Mar 02, 2015 03:39AM ● Published by Family Features

(Family Features) Bringing ancient grains to the family dinner table is easier today than it has ever been. Incorporating these grains into your diet has a number of proven health benefits and they are a great, gluten-free alternative to traditional breads, cereals and pastas as well.

What are ancient grains?
Some of the more popular grains appearing in the human-food sector recently are sorghum, quinoa, amaranth, millet and chia. While these grains may sound unfamiliar to the everyday consumer, they are actually used in many foods on the shelves at the local grocery store. Products using ancient grains range from flour and cereals to pastas, healthy snack foods and more. With widely known brands like Kellogg’s and KIND incorporating ancient grains into their products, they are becoming more visible and readily available to consumers.

Eat your vitamins
It is important to remember ancient grains are not empty calories. Ancient grains have many health benefits. Many of them are high in protein, vitamins and antioxidants. Sorghum in particular is a great option because it is a great source of antioxidants, magnesium, iron and zinc. Another added bonus, sorghum is grown domestically and is drought tolerant, so it supports American farmers and saves water.

Ancient Grains and the Gluten-Free Diet
For individuals with celiac disease and consumers who choose to eat a gluten-free diet, many ancient grains are a great alternative. From preparing foods for a family weeknight dinner to eating at your favorite restaurant, the following tips help support a gluten-free diet:

  • Substitute. Various ancient grain alternatives exist for those following a gluten-free diet, including sorghum. Used in a variety of foods, white food-grade sorghum is used in cookies, cakes, breads, pastas and more. For those who love to bake, sorghum flour is a wonderful alternative to create sweet treats minus the gluten. Whole grain sorghum can be popped as a nutritious, whole grain snack. Just add a little oil in a heavy pan along with whole grain sorghum for a healthy popped treat. For lunch or dinner entrees, complement freshly prepared meats and steamed vegetables by boiling this adaptable food as a grain, just as you would prepare rice or barley.
  • Opt for natural. When choosing a menu, foods that are gluten-free by nature are always a safe bet. Some examples include sorghum, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, beans and potatoes.
  • Plan ahead. When eating out, it is essential to ask the right questions to ensure your food is safely prepared. Check your local grocery store for ancient grains. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, ask them if they will get it for you. If not, a vast assortment is available online.
  • Look for labeling. Be aware of what is on the label and look for the gluten-free certification.
  • Be aware of cross-contamination. Remnants of foods that contain gluten can still be present on the utensils, cookware and various kitchen tools used to prepare foods. For families with extreme gluten sensitivity, be sure to have separate utensils for cooking, baking and serving those individuals.

Ancient grains are healthy and a great addition to any families' diet. For recipes, nutritional information and more on cooking with sorghum, visit www.HealthySorghum.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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