Cart Smarts: Turn ancient grains into modern meals

I presented to a group of local businesswomen last week — we discussed meal planning resources, online grocery shopping and a variety of healthy foods available in the aisles. One of the highlights of the event was passing around a basket full of ancient grains.

Ancient grains have fed other cultures for centuries, but have been recently gaining in popularity here. Amaranth, kamut, millet, teff, sorghum, spelt, quinoa and farro are a few examples of these ancient grains.

The women loved the opportunity to look at these products up close and see the differences in the grains, through color, shape and size. They were inspired to try these "new" foods, but wait — one question.

"How am I supposed to know how to use these?," one woman asked. The others echoed her hesitation. They were inspired to try farro, for example, but had no idea what to do with it.

I flipped over the package and pointed out the recipe ideas listed. They found this especially helpful. Here are a few other suggestions for preparing these ancient grains:


• Amaranth can be used in porridge and polenta.

• Millet can be used as a substitute for rice, served alongside a stir-fry.

• Teff is actually the smallest grain in the world and can be incorporated in stew.

• Sorghum can be popped like popcorn.

• Quinoa can be a savory side dish at dinner (think pilaf) or a sweet option for breakfast (see recipe included here).

• Farro and freekeh both make a great base for a salad.

For those who are hesitant about making a dish from scratch, you can find ancient grains incorporated in several products around the store, including cereal, pasta, chips, breads and snack bars.

If you are interested in tasting some of these ancient grains — incorporated into modern meal ideas — then stop by the 37th Street Hy-Vee between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday for free samples.

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