You’ve heard the phrase, “what’s old is new again,” and have likely seen many trends, including food and diet trends come, go, and return again. Knowing this, the food industry uses words like “classic” or “original” and gets creative with packaging to ensure a “throwback” take on older foods that are “new” again. Ancient grains, which may date back 10,000 years, are a throwback food that is definitely seeing a fresh surge.
Known for their vast nutritional benefits, ancient grains have remained unchanged for thousands of years and are still appreciated today for the vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein they offer. Included in the list of ancient grains are amaranth, kamut, millet, spelt, teff, farro, sorghum, freekeh, quinoa, chia, barley, bulgur, buckwheat, wild rice, and wheat berries.
Sales of foods that include ancient grains in their ingredient list have seen a rise, subsequently a growing number of foods are appearing on grocery store shelves. According to SPINS, a company that studies natural food trends, sales of ancient grains rose throughout 2014, with Kamut leading the way with growth of 686%, followed by spelt, which grew 363%. Not surprisingly, sales of gluten-free ancient grains also rose dramatically, with amaranth up 123% and teff up 58%. Ancient grains are also finding a greater presence on restaurant menus and are considered top trend by chefs.
With growing popularity and greater access to ancient grains, it is easy to incorporate them into your diet as you “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” for National Nutrition Month. As happens annually in March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds us through National Nutrition Month what we can do to adopt better habits. This year’s theme, “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”, encourages us to find the right balance of nutrient rich foods, enjoy our diet and exercise more to create an overall healthy lifestyle. Imbedded in the theme is also an emphasis on selecting nutrient rich foods and the dietary goal of making at least half the grains you eat whole grains. While all whole grains are beneficial, our ancient grains, such as spelt, provide an exceptional amount of nutrients, including protein, which make it a valuable resource for those of us seeking a more plant and grain based diet.
This March, as you “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”, and seek to incorporate more ancient grains into your diet, turn to Guiding Stars to help you identify the most nutrient rich products and for healthful, convenient recipes like the ones’ linked below. For even greater understanding of the trend toward consuming more ancient grains, tune into our free, CPEU approved, webinar, “Ancient Grains: A New Food Trend”.
Ancient Grains Recipe Round-Up
Use spelt flour to make homemade Sweet Potato Ravioli
Add vegetables and grains to your day with Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Turn simple tomato soup into an opportunity for grains with Tomato and Farro Soup
Round our your meal with heart healthy, protein rich Fresh Herb and Lemon Bulgur Pilaf
Use buckwheat and chia to make these whole grain rich Buckwheat Pear Chia Pancakes