What exactly makes an ancient grain ancient? If you’re looking to identify these nutrient-dense grains, they’re generally classified as a “group of grains and pseudocereals (seeds that are consumed like grains) that have remained mostly unchanged for thousands of years.”
Basically, they’re one of the only foods that you can still find that have been untampered with by modern food processing. That is, of course, if you take the time to purchase ancient grains that are processed in an organic certified and non-GMO facility.
Turns out that ancient grains “tend to be less processed and pack more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than more widespread grains like corn, rice, and modern wheat.” Due to these factors, ancient grains have been linked via studies to “lower heart disease risk, better blood sugar control, and improved digestion,” to name just a few of those awesome health benefits. Plus, most ancient grains are also naturally gluten-free, making them more widely accessible and safe to those with specific gluten sensitivities, allergies, or Celiac disease.
Alright, you’re convinced! Now it’s time to purchase your favorite ancient grain. Of course, looking at the price tag at your local health foods or grocery store may have you hesitating.
That’s why it’s a great idea to buy your ancient grains in bulk. When stored properly, grains can last for months, plus buying in bulk directly from a supplier generally means you’ll get a fresher product at a more reasonable price.
If you’re going to go ancient grain, you’ve gotta at least give quinoa a try! Its popularity is not just due to trendy marketing, quinoa happens to be one of the best plant-based sources of protein, fiber, and magnesium while also being low in carbs. This CEREAUSLY Organic Non-GMO Tri-Color Quinoa in Bulk is naturally gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, and kosher. Plus, CEREAUSLY uses a non-chemical, delicate mechanical process to remove the tough outer shell of quinoa, retaining its nutrients and making it that much easier for your digestive system to process. A bulk 10-pound bag costs $44.90.
KD Wilcox says “I’m pretty sure this will last us a whole year. It came quickly and in a super-strong, heavy-duty bag. I’ve had to scramble to find enough storage containers to put it in. I should have just bought a bucket. But duh. Quinoa is a new staple in our diet. I was shocked the boys loved it so much and it feels good to know I’m giving them something so healthful.”
Kamut — also called Khorasan Wheat — is one of the lesser-known ancient grains, yet still a great choice. Kamut is loaded with plant-based protein, fiber, zinc, and a whopping load of selenium. In fact, Kamut is one of the best natural sources of selenium. On top of that, it’s incredibly low in fat! These Bulk Grains 100% Organic Kamut Berries are “two to three times the size of common wheat” with similar texture packaged in a more digestible friendly form of gluten. This means you can grind these berries to make a great substitute for wheat flour or keep whole and use in curries, stews, soups, or as a side dish. A 25-pound package costs $87.57.
SKH says “Kamut is my new favorite! I grind all 25lbs at once and put it into packages for freezing. I take it out of the freezer as I need. Kamut makes the best bread that I have ever eaten!”
If you haven’t heard of millet, you’ve most likely heard its pseudonym — birdseed. That’s because it’s widely used as an ingredient in … you guessed it … birdseed! With that said, millet is a “nutritious, ancient pseudocereal [that’s] considered a staple throughout China, India, Africa, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.” It offers a decent helping of protein and manganese and smaller amounts of fiber, fat, and magnesium. This Arrowhead Mills Organic Non-GMO Whole Millet is USDA certified organic and non-GMO project verified. Plus, this product has also been certified gluten-free. Millet is great for a myriad of grain-free, gluten-free alternatives such as pudding, pilaf, bread, and stuffing. A 6-pack of 28-ounce bags costs $31.03.
Kate McMurry says “I purchased this millet because I’ve been varying my diet so that I don’t eat gluten on a regular basis. Instead I have tried and enjoyed quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and now millet. Many people who are on a gluten-free diet appreciate millet as a wheat substitute because, even though this ancient grain (whose cultivation goes back 10,000 years to East Asia) has a protein structure similar to wheat, it has no gluten. This particular organic, whole millet is delicious and easy to cook, and I’ve enjoyed it as an addition to my diet. However, I will not be eating it on a daily basis as, though it does not contain gluten, it contains goitrogens. Goitrogens are substances (whether in drugs, chemicals, or foods) that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by interfering with iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. This can lead to the formation of a goiter or hypothyroidism. Other common foods which also contain goitrogens are soy and cruciferous vegetables, so I definitely co not eat a combination of those foods on the same day.”
Teff is one of the most popular gluten-free flour and is widely used in bakeries and restaurants. It’s also super nutritious and offers a slew of nutrients with every bite including protein, fat, fiber, manganese, copper, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, and zinc. This Maskal Teff Non-GMO Ivory Teff Grain is 100 percent whole-grain, naturally gluten-free, allergen-free, non-GMO project verified, and kosher. A 6-pack of 16-ounce bags costs $29.90.
Sherm says “As a lover of Farro and any other grain less traveled, when my girlfriend told me about Teff, I was quite intrigued. I found this stuff at Amazon of course, ordered it, and after some diligent googling discovered different ways to prepare it. It’s definitely a unique flavor and texture. Sort of has the texture of cream of wheat, but with an earthy, savory flavor all it’s own. I love it and have used it several times now… my latest venture was Ethiopian chicken stew with teff polenta… wonderful! Another grain to try after this, if you haven’t already is Amaranth… quite good!”
Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that has been cultivated for over 8,000 years! This means you can at least rest assured that it’s been tried and tested for quite some time. It’s a great source of protein, manganese, and magnesium, yet it also offers a bit more healthy fat and iron than other ancient grains. This D’allesandro Organic Non-GMO Amaranth is USDA certified organic, naturally gluten-free, Kosher Parve certified, and non-GMO. A 10-pound box costs $50.00.
Beline says “At first I cooked it the wrong way and it didn’t taste good. I have been cooking it like I cook grits and it makes a big difference it tastes pretty good. I have been cooking it with beans, vegetables, and other things and I love it now. I even got my family to start eating it. The shipment for this item was quick and the packaging was good, I can’t complain.”
Sorghum isn’t necessarily a hidden secret. In fact, this ancient grain is the “fifth most consumed grain worldwide” and for good reason, it’s loaded with nutrients. Along with the customary protein, fat, and fiber (of which it offers up a good helping!), sorghum also provides a great plant-based source of manganese, magnesium, copper, and selenium. This Gerbs Non-GMO White Sorghum Grain is free of most allergens including gluten, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, eggs, milk, dairy, fish, mustard, and sesame. On top of that, Gerbs is proud to offer a product that is all-natural and free of trans fats, chemicals, preservatives, GMOs, or artificial ingredients. A 4-pound bag costs $22.99.
Bean says “I love Gerbs sorghum. I use it as a breakfast cereal with milk and sweetener, I put it on salads, I use it as a side dish with Geeh on it. I eat hot and cold. It is just delicious.”
Another rarer ancient grain, freekeh is a “staple in Middle Eastern cuisine” and is made from green durum wheat. Freekeh follows the same nutrient outline as the other ancient grains, yet it also offers a great source of powerful carotenoid compounds including lutein and zeaxanthin. This Organic Non-GMO Whole Freekeh is rich in protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, and sodium. Plus, it’s low on the glycemic index, which means the carbs are absorbed slowly, packaged with other nutrients, and won’t make your blood sugar spike unhealthily. A 5-pound package costs $19.99.
Marcia K. Rose says “Hardy grain. Tasted like a cross between barley and oats roasted. Works well with veggies in a bowl meal or in a soup.”
Rye bread is delicious for a reason! Yet, have you ever given rye grain a try? Rye is, in fact, an ancient grain and is also a “member of the wheat family.” The good news? Rye “contains fewer carbs and more vitamin and minerals” making it a healthier choice! While it’s a bit higher in calories than other ancient grains, it also offers a powerful punch of protein and fiber, along with manganese and magnesium. This Great River Organic Milling Whole Grain Organic Rye offers cleaned and ready to be cooked whole grain rye berries. This product is USDA certified organic to boot! A 25-pounce bag costs $37.81.
Gabe Donzelli says “Huge 25lb. bag of organic rye berries. I ground them to rye meal and rye chops for my first 100% rye loaf yesterday. The loaf has to sit for 48 hours, so I’m patiently waiting. The aroma coming out of the oven as it baked for 90 minutes, though, was more than I could resist (but resist I did).
I’m adding a photo of the loaf I baked out of my first 500g of berries from this bag.”
Farro is an excellent substitute for rice! It’s shaped the same, carries the same texture, yet is a bit meatier and filling than rice. With that said, keep in mind that farro is wheat-based, which means it’s not a pseudocereal or gluten-free. Like rye, farro is also a bit higher in calories, yet is also rich in “antioxidants like polyphenols, carotenoids, and phytosterols, which may lower your risk of several chronic illnesses, such as heart disease and certain cancers.” This D’allesandro Organic Non-GMO Farro is “lightly pearled by an ancient artisanal process” from Northern Italy. This product is USDA certified organic, Kosher Parve certified, and non-GMO. A 10-pound box costs $47.65.
Nelson Johnson says “We eat a lot of farro, and the price for the same amount at any grocery store near us ($6-$9 per 16 oz. bag) is insane compared to this.”
Barley is a super popular ancient grain and is widely consumed in the states. While barley gets a bad rap as it’s used as a processed sweetener at times, it’s actually quite nutritious in its natural state! Along with protein, fiber, selenium, iron, and vitamin B1, barley is also high in “beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in your gut.” This Organic Non-GMO Pearled Barley is certified organic and free of any contaminants. It’s been known to help normalize digestion and may even aid in healthy weight management. A 6-pound bag costs $18.48.
Barbara Guay says “Searched supermarkets in my area and found no one carries barley. My delivery was quick and product is exactly what I wanted and needed.”
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