I love to use unusual foods that have great nutritional value. That’s where these super grains — millet, quinoa and amaranth — come in. Not only are they versatile to cook with, but they each pack different nutritional benefits, and all three are gluten-free.
Millet is rich in B vitamins, especially niacin, B6, folic acid, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc and magnesium. It has been part of the Asian diet for over 10,000 years. We may recognize millet in the United States most readily as the main ingredient in bird food.
Millet is a great nutritional source for those with Celiac disease. Since it does not contain gluten, it can be used in making flat breads. I like to use the grain in everything from hot breakfast cereals to soups, stews, desserts and as a side dish. You can buy it in bulk at many natural food stores or in the grain aisle.
Quinoa (keen-wah) is one of my favorite grains. I love it for how nutrient dense it is. It has the highest protein content of any grain, (12-18 percent). Quinoa originated in the Andes and has been a staple in the diet of the people there for centuries. Quinoa stands out as a super “grain” (it is actually a seed, but commonly referred to as a grain) because it is a complete protein source containing all nine amino acids. And, if that is not enough, it has a high-fiber content as well!
I use quinoa similarly to millet. It can be enjoyed from breakfast through dinner. I created a recipe (see below) in Mom-a-licious for a tabouli style salad using quinoa that is fantastic, easy-to-make and inexpensive. It is great for lunch on the go or a dinner side dish. One of my important tips in cooking quinoa is to dry toast and rinse the grains before you cook them, and they will produce a more nutty flavor. If you don’t, they can have a slightly bitter taste.
Amaranth, a third grain that is gluten-free, also has great protein and amino acid content. It is the smallest grain of the three. It can be used in the same style as the others but because of its tiny size I think its suited best for hot cereals, desserts, soups or stews.
I highly recommend you give one or all three of these grains a try. They are fantastic to put into your children’s diet as well. Look for organic grains where ever available.
Until next time, stay fresh and delicious!
~ Chef Domenica
Quick Quinoa Tabouli
Quinoa is a superfood with all eight amino acids. It is also the highest protein grain. I like eating this at room temperature after I make it. If you are refrigerating and bringing it for lunch, add a bit more lemon juice to punch up the flavor.
- 4 cups water, chicken or veggie broth
- ½ tablespoon granulated garlic
- 2 cups quinoa
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup zucchini, shredded or minced
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
1. Bring water or broth to a boil with garlic.
2. Toast quinoa in a pan by placing the grains in a skillet and cooking over medium heat until brown, about 3 minutes.
3. Place in a small strainer and rinse.
4. Add quinoa to boiling broth and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and fold in lemon juice, olive oil, zucchini, bell pepper and parsley. Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Tried any of these grains before? What’s your favorite grain recipe? Share your kitchen tips with the Food and Cooking Community.