Thursday, May 31, 2007

Rice - the unsung hero whole grains

Much more than a side dish, this typical grain is one of the more consistant staples for most of the world. In some Asian languages, “to eat” literally translates as "to eat rice". Unlike in the Western culture, in much of the world, rice actually forms the basis of most meals.

Unlike the typical processed white rice, brown rice is much more nutritious. It's hardier texture and nutty flavor is something many people come to prefer once the nutrition realization out weighs the convenience. Learning your rice types can help you make the switch from white processed to brown more nutrient dense rice.

Long-grain brown rice will be the closest in texture to long-grain white rice, as short rice tends to get stickier-great for sushi or risotto! Quick-cooking brown rice has been precooked, so it can be a good choice if you're in a hurry. You can also find whole grain rice in other forms such as Black Japonica or Himalayan Red and it's becoming easier to find brown rice versions of favorites such as basmati and jasmine.

Brown rice will stay fresh for about five to six months when stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. You can also store it in the refrigerator to avoid any chance that may will turn rancid.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Barley. More than just for soups, livestock or beer.

Although this is a truthfully delicious and nutritious grain, more than half of the barley grown in the US is used for beer. Most of what remains is used for livestock.

Finding whole barley outside of health food stores takes a little effort. Often most "whole" versions will still be missing the hull, so shop wisely. "Hulled barley" (meaning the hull is still on) has far more fiber and minerals than pearled barley which has been stripped of the germ and the bran and polished up to six times to give it a smooth surface.

Hulled barley should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or kept away from light, heat, and moisture. If kept in this manner it will stay fresh for up to several months. Since most all of the oils which could go rancid have already been removed, pearled barley can be kept at room temperature for a longer time.

Substitute hulled barley for any recipe where you see pearled barley, but keep in mind that it will take approximately two hours to cook, much longer than the 45 minutes recommended for pearled. You can start by pre-cooking the hulled barley well before it’s needed in the recipe. You can also serve it cooked alone with some simple seasoning as a side dish or in grain salads as you would wheat kernels.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Spelt; ancient wheat reintroduced. Part 2

Part 2:

Unlike modern wheat, the spelt grain has retained many of its original traits and remains a highly nutritious and full-flavored option. Modern wheat has changed dramatically over the decades. It has been propagated to be easier to grow and harvest, to boost harvest yield, and to have a higher gluten content for the production of high-volume commercial baked goods. All this translates to more money for manufacturers.

It’s taste is not the only thing that has drawn the Western world back to this ancient grain. Spelt is naturally high in fiber, and contain much more protein than wheat. Spelt is also higher in both simple and complex carbohydrates and in B complex vitamins. Another newly promoted benefit is that some people who are gluten-sensitive have been able to include spelt-based foods in their diets to replace the modern wheat they were once used to which they now should avoid.

Spelt has become a top-selling grain in the organic and health food industry, since its reintroduction to the market in 1987 by Purity Foods Inc. Modern cooks are rediscovering the full-bodied flavor of whole grain spelt baked goods. Flour made from the versatile grain can be substituted for wheat flour in a variety of baked goods including, but not limited to: breads, pasta, cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pancakes and waffles.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

What is Spelt and how it's making a comeback...Part 1

There’s not much more ’getting back to basics’ than reaching way back in history to find a grain that is making a come-back Tasty and nutritious spelt, is one of the first grains to be grown by early farmers far back in history as 5,000 BC. For a variety of reasons, this Ancient Grain is growing in popularity with American consumers.

Spelt is one of the oldest of cultivated grains, preceded only by Emmer and Elkorn. Spelt has an almost "nutty" flavor which has long been popular in Europe, where it is also known as "Farro" (Italy) and "Dinkle" (Germany). When Rome ruled it was called "Farrum", and it’s origins are easily traced back early Mesopotamia. Spelt (Triticum spelta) is a ancient and distant relative of our modern day wheat (Triticum aestivum).

What once had brought the decline in spelt production in North America is now believed to be it’s greatest benefit. Spelt has a tougher hull, or husk, that makes it a bit more difficult to process it’s modern wheat cousins. The tougher husk, separated just before milling, not only protects the kernel, but helps retain nutrients and maintain freshness as do all wheat husks, but the tougher the husk, the more protection. Also, unlike other grains, spelt's husk protects it from pollutants and pests and usually allows growers to avoid using pesticides.

More on this interesting Ancient Grain next time in Part 2

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Don't forget your whole grains!

Did you get enough whole grains today?

Depending upon your gender, age, and level of physical activity will depend on how much you need to eat. Do some research and find out how much you specifically need. It can be anywhere from 3 to 6 servings, so make sure you look it up.

I'm out of time for tonight though...but one last thing, if by this time you haven't gotten enough whole grains today. Try to come up with a low-fat dessert tonight to incorporate them an oatmeal cookie. Or even have oatmeal with some peanut butter mixed in. That actually makes a wonderful breakfast, sweetened a little with honey and with the peanut butter mixed in. Mmm, I actually think I may want that for breakfast tomorrow.

Anyways, thanks for reading and have a nice night!

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Dietary Fiber

Fiber, fiber, fiber. I can't emphasis enough the importance of it.

Fiber is what many of us today are missing in our diets. It's what keeps us "regular". As gross as it is to talk about our insides like intestines and such, it is important because what goes on inside affects what goes on outside.

It has been said that eating a diet high in fiber can help prevent certain health problems and cancers. Fiber can also help maintain normal cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and help keep you from gaining weight. Those are only a few, the list is way longer than that. It's been said to have helped prevent constipation, hemorroids, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, breast cancer, and more.

Whole grains are high in fiber. The bran which is the outer layer of the grain, is what contains most of this fiber. So when manufacturers remove this bran it is actually almost causing us to have those diseases and health problems. So when we eat white refined products like bread and pastas we're doing our body harm! Eating whole grains actually helps reduce the effects that eating the refined grains causes.

Eat more fiber rich foods such as whole grains to help your overall health!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

You can make tortillas from other grains, not just wheat!

Now I've taken into consideration that some people have allergies to wheat, but there is hope yet! For instance, if you can't have a flour tortilla because you can't have the wheat, don't sweat it.

I know it can be a series of deprivations for those who are sensitive to wheat and gluten. Which can set you up to just binge on that wheat that is so harmful to your digestion. But don't let 'store bought' items catch you off guard, when you can prepare your own grains (kamut, spelt, millet) and make a whole grain spelt tortilla for easy and fast replacements to regular bread or wheat tortillas.

Find a good wheat recipe for tortillas and simply replace one grain for another. You may have to adjust the water in the recipe and pour in small amounts at a time into your freshly ground grain. The water absorption rate differs for different types of grain, so take your time and make sure you don't add too much water. We made spelt tortillas out of our freshly ground whole spelt grain flour not too long ago, and the kids actually preferred the spelt grain tortillas to the wheat grain ones!

I'm out of time for today. I'll post more tomorrow, please subscribe to our feed or come back and see us soon! Happy Eating! :)

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