Grains have gotten a bad rap lately. With the popularity of low-carb diets and instances of gluten sensitivity on the rise, it would seem that avoiding grains altogether is the safest bet. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Even if you are watching your weight or have gluten intolerance, grains can be good for you. Many grains are gluten-free and very nutrient rich. Some grains even aid in weight loss and maintenance by providing a good source of fiber. Here are 8 gluten-free, highly nutritive grains that you should include in your clean eating diet.
Amaranth is a rich source of protein and may help reduce cholesterol. Amaranth grains can be popped like popcorn or boiled in water for use in a recipe.
Although not widely popular in the U.S., Arrowhead Mills and Bob’s Red Mill both make amaranth readily available. Try these amaranth and pea fritters.
Quinoa has perhaps gained the most popularity of the gluten-free grains in the past few years. It comes in three colors – red, white and black – and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Quinoa provides your body with more than half of its daily recommended allowance of manganese and more than a dozen other vitamins and minerals in notable amounts.
Quinoa is so versatile it can be used any time of day for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Take a break from oatmeal and try this blueberry breakfast quinoa.
Until recently, sorghum has been mostly fed to livestock in the United States. Not until the gluten-free movement became popular did people start looking at sorghum as a healthy grain alternative. Sorghum’s effects on cancer are being studied, but it has shown some potential to help slow growth of certain cancers.
Try these garlic green beans with sorghum and walnuts.
Buckwheat is perhaps most famously used in pancakes, but don’t write it off as just a breakfast food. This grain is high in protein and soluble fiber, which helps maintain healthy levels of blood sugar. Buckwheat also contains zinc, copper, manganese and potassium.
For a healthy vegan dinner, try these sweet potato and buckwheat burgers.
Millet is another gluten-free grain with boundless health benefits. It is thought that millet helps control blood sugar, lowers cholesterol and has antioxidant properties among other benefits.
Try this twist on a classic comfort food: roasted broccoli and cheddar millet bake.
Teff is grown mostly in Ethiopia and is just starting to gain popularity in the United States. This small grain packs a calcium and fiber punch bigger than any other grain. Incorporating teff into your diet can help you manage weight and stabilize blood sugar.
Try this authentic Ethiopian flatbread recipe.
When it comes to rice, always chose brown over white. Brown rice is rich in selenium, manganese, antioxidants and fiber, which make it heart-healthy. Brown rice also has a low glycemic index, so it helps stabilize blood sugar. Of all the healthy grains, it is probably the most well-known and readily available.
If you’ve “been there done that” with brown rice, try spicing it up a bit with this Cajun chicken and rice recipe.
Oats themselves are gluten-free, but they are often processed in facilities that also contain grains with gluten, so contamination is possible. To get truly gluten-free oats, you must pay attention to what you are buying. GF Harvest, Bob’s Red Mill and Country Choice brands offer gluten-free oats. Oats are a good source of fiber and magnesium, which may help reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Try using oats in savory dishes such as these chicken parmesan meatballs.
The options are almost endless when it comes to incorporating healthy grains into your diet. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Most of these grains that are new to us have been around since ancient times. If they were good enough for our ancestors, they are good enough for us!