Amaranth has a high level of very complete protein with lysine, an amino acid missing or negligible in many grains. Like other gluten free grains, Amaranth, which resembles brown caviar when cooked, works best in batter breads, muffins, cookies and pancakes. Amaranth pancakes are pictured above.
Buckwheat goes way beyond Preston County Buckwheat cakes famous in West Virginia. Japan's soba noodles, Brittany's crepes and Russia's kasha are all made with buckwheat. Buckwheat is not wheat. It is gluten free. It's the only grain known to have high levels of an antioxidant called rutin, which studies show improves circulation.
Most of the oats eaten in the United States and steamed and flattened to produce "old-fashioned" or regular oats and quick oats. Oats contain beta-glucan, a soluble, fermentable fiber-also called a prebiotic fiber- that lowers cholesterol.
While much of our quinoa is still imported, farmers in the higher altitude areas of the United States are beginning to cultivate it. Botanists have now developed a saponin-free strains of quinoa, to eliminate the minor annoyance of rinsing before cooking. Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids-a complete protein. The National Academy of Medicine declares that complete proteins are supplied by meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, quinoa and soybeans.
Teff is the principal source of nutrition in Ethiopia. Teff has over twice the iron of other grains, and three times the calcium.
All of the grains pictured above (Amaranth, Buckwheat, Oats, Quinoa and Teff) are gluten free.
Rye was long seen as a weed in more desirable wheat crops, but gained respect for its ability to grown in areas too wet or cold for other grains. Rye has a lower glycemic index than many grains making it favorable to diabetics. This type of fiber promotes a rapid feeling of fullness, making it a good choice for those trying to loose weight.
Bulgur is sometimes referred to as "Middle Eastern pasta". The wheat kernels are cleaned, boiled, dried, ground by a mill, then sorted by size. The red bulgur featured above, has bigger grains and requires a longer cooking time. Some bulgur just requires steeping in boiling water. Bulgur has more fiber than quinoa, oats, millet, buckwheat and corn.
The twelfth-century mystic St. Hildegard declares Spelt as the best of grains. Spelt is highter in protein than common wheat.
Whole Grains Sampling Day is celebrated the last Wednesday in March. Many of the fun facts above were sourced from the Whole Grains Council.