Saturday, April 7, 2012

Go Against the Grain: 5 Ancient Grains for Energy, Health and Vitality!

It's time we go against the grain!

Wheat isn't the only grain around folks. Aren't you bored of the same old same old? Let's shake things up and play with the bounty of our fields. We often get stuck on eating the same things, going to the same places and listening to the same tunes. Step off that paved path, try a different avenue, and fill your tummy with nutritional gold instead.

Wheat not only is overdone, but it is also a very highly genetically modified food (GMO) crop. The health risks of frankenstein foods like GMOs, is now a very hot topic in the nutrition and health world. Common sense alone would tell you that artificial and human altered food is detrimental to your health. Food always serves us best in its natural state.

Surprisingly, my big fat Italian family isn't so pasta crazy. We still eat with gusto and way more than we need to, but we're not the typical pasta addicted crew. However regular pasta isn't the only evil. WHEAT is in MANY packaged foods, sauces, canned foods, and baked goods. If you are going to eat packaged foods, READ the label and try to avoid products with wheat. Try gluten free or no wheat products for awhile. See what happens.

I didn't think I really had a wheat issue. I'm not allergic to it. But I don't feel my best when I eat it. Long term if I were to continue to eat it and ignore the symptoms I may develop a sensitivity and a more severe intolerance. That is how allergies/intolerances develop.

Overdo any food and you can develop an intolerance to it. Rotating foods becomes really important when you are planning your meals and diet.


5 YUMMY Grain Alternatives to Wheat

You can sprout these grains if you are on a raw diet. Cooked they replace wheat pastas, bread and other baked goods. These grains have more flavour, often described as nuttier in taste and will make wheat a bland taste of the past.

1) Quinoa- The king of the ancient grains for its high protein content and immense cornucopia of vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is delicious as a Pilaf or a great alternative to brown rice. It is gluten free, high in B vitamins, and Calcium.

One cup of cooked quinoa contains 30 milligrams of calcium. Quinoa also contains impressive quantities of potassium, magnesium and zinc, minerals that are crucial for heart, nerve and muscle function. It also has more fiber and is low on the glycemic, 2 things that will help you manage your insulin levels and ultimately your weight!

2) Millet- isn't just for the birds! Millet is gluten free and way more yummy than wheat. It is rich in B vitamins, slow burning carbs, and much more easy to digest than wheat. A whole cooked cup has only 207 calories. Its best feature is its HEART healthy attributes. It is a powerhouse for its magnesium content and that makes your heart and blood pressure happy campers. Magnesium is vital for lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the risk of a heart attack.

3) Spelt- This ancient grain does have gluten, but it differs from wheat because of its water solubility. Therefore, cooking it in water makes it not only easily digestible, but also its nutrient value is more easily assimilated. So you'll get those super B vitamins for energy and manganese for numerous body functions such as hormone production, immune support and liver enzyme production.

Just like Quinoa it boasts a unique flavour that goes beyond what white wheat could ever give you. Its digestibility also makes it noteworthy for its anti inflammatory properties. It won't stick or stay in the gut as long as wheat. Therefore it won't irritate the mucous lining of your intestines.

4) Kamut- This is the anti aging King of grains! It is high in antioxidants, namely Selenium and one serving provides about 120% of your daily needs. It is also super friendly for the male population because of its high Zinc content. Zinc is a mineral needed for sperm production and helps improve fertility. It does so by supporting the hormonal glands and their functional needs.

5) Amaranth- This is the other corn of Mexico. Mexicans are known for their el Maiz or corn, but they also love their amaranth. They make desserts, and really tasty amaranth cocoa snacks that makes any candy bar a shameful excuse for a chocolate treat. Amaranth is gluten free, has 3 times more fiber and 5 times more iron than wheat. Also compared to wheat, it beats it in Vitamins A and C, Calcium, and phosphorous content. You just can't go wrong with this one!

So let go of the wheat, and meet the other side. You will give your palette a new taste adventure, your heart something to beat proudly about and your tummy a digestive delight. The Ancients left us gifts from the earth. It's time we receive them :)



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