Ancient grains, seeds lesson 101

Beth Freehill

Ancient grains are derived from seeds that originate from some of the earliest wild grasses like wheat, barley and rye. Ancient grains are a delicious source of whole grains and beneficial nutrients, having a heartier texture and unique flavor. Read on to learn more about a variety of ancient grains.


  • Prized grain of Aztec civilization
  • Integrity of outer layer causes the grain to “pop” when chewed
  • Nutty, malty, peppery flavor
  • Sprinkle on salads or serve with fruit, nuts and milk for breakfast


  • Traced back to the Mediterranean region
  • High in protein and fiber; lower carbohydrate content
  • Smokey, nutty flavor
  • Use in stuffing, pilaf, hot breakfast cereal or salad


  • First grown in Asia or Egypt
  • 20-40 percent more protein than modern wheat; high in B vitamins
  • Sweet, nutty, buttery flavor
  • Serve as a breakfast cereal or in place of long grain brown rice


  • World’s smallest grain
  • Always a whole grain since it doesn’t undergo milling
  • Sweet, malty, molasses-like flavor
  • Use teff flour or the uncooked grain in pancakes, waffles or muffins


(pronounced “keen-wah”)

  • Grown in the Andes mountains of Bolivia, Chile and Peru
  • Comes in a variety of colors such as red, tan or purple
  • Earthy, nutty flavor
  • Serve as a side dish or add to soups as a thickener

Try the recipe below using kamut. For more recipes, visit.

Kamut and Kale Salad

Serves: 9 (1/2 cup each)

Source: Hy-Vee chefs.

All you need:

2 c. kamut grain

1 bag Cut and Clean kale or one bunch of kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped

1 c. toasted pecans

3/4 c. dried cranberries

1 c. diced Pink Lady apples

9 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp honey

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

All you do:

1. Cover the kamut with about an inch of water, bring to a boil and cover. Simmer for 45 to 50 minutes or until grains are tender. Drain and cool.

2. While the kamut is cooking, massage the kale.

3. In a large bowl, combine cooled kamut, kale, pecans, cranberries and apples.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar and honey. Mix dressing into the salad. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 250 calories, 16 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 135 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrate, 3 g dietary fiber, 18 g sugar, 3 g protein.

For more information, contact your Clinton Hy-Vee registered dietitian. This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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