Nearly everything these days makes me feel positively ancient:
- Re-listening to Rent and siding with Benny.
- The unfair degree of hangover now induced by two glasses of wine.
- Spotify putting the Dawson’s Creek theme song on a Good Times, Great Oldies playlist.
- Realizing some of my co-workers are literally 30 years younger than me.
But while I wish “ancient” weren’t the right adjective to describe my taste in boy bands (BSB4Life) or my understanding of Snapchat (Is it a snap? Is it a chat?), I don’t mind it when it’s paired with my all-time favorite food group: grains.
That’s right, folks. Today, we’re talking about ancient grains.
Ancient grains seem to be the hot new thing for clean eaters everywhere, but there’s nothing new about them. This family of whole grains has been around for centuries, with most varieties largely unchanged for at least the last several hundred years, according to the Whole Grains Council (which sounds like a delicious place to work.)
After doing Whole 30 last year, I’ve tried to remove from my diet most reﬁned grain products, like white ﬂour and processed crackers. But I don’t want to drop whole grains altogether — I don’t seem to have a problem with them and they’re great for carb loading — so I’ve been working to replace old American staples like white rice and pasta with a rainbow of ancient grains, from quinoa to buckwheat.
Now I’ve tried several of them, and my favorite, hands down, is farro. Farro, which sounds like Joseph of Technicolor Dreamcoat fame’s boss, is a whole grain that’s nutty and chewy like an al dente wild rice or barley. It’s high in protein, iron and fiber, and it’s been popular for so long it has honestly been found in Egyptian tombs.
If you can’t do gluten, farro’s not for you, since it’s an ancient relative of modern-day wheat and will mess with your Celiac disease. But if you can handle it, stock up on farro in your bulk food aisle or buy the packaged stuff from Bob’s Red Mill, and start throwing it into your soups, casseroles and risottos for an extra boost of nutrition when rice just won’t cut it.
It’s easy to make: add water or broth with farro to a pot at about a 2-to-1 ratio, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until grains are tender (about 30 minutes) before draining off any excess liquid. Then I partition it out in half-cup increments, pop in the freezer and defrost individual bags as needed for easy grain bowls, salad toppers or stuffed-pepper fillings at the blink of an eye.
Maybe it’s an ancient grain, but eating it in a nutrient-packed lunch today made me feel almost young again.
Young enough to drink two glasses of wine without a hangover? Maybe not, but at least I’m now wise enough to remember sun protection the next morning is an absolute must.
Do ancient grains have a place in your kitchen?