Ancient Grains & Spices in Modern Day

Are you someone who incorporates grains into your diet? If so, have you ever tried ancient or heirloom varieties? It’s likely you’ve had quinoa or chia (both of which are technically seeds, but often called grains), but what about farro?

 

Ancient & Heirloom Grains

What is farro?—you might be asking. Farro is an Italian word that encompasses three varieties of heirloom grains: einkorn, spelt, and emmer wheat. When buying farro it can be a mix of all three or just one of the heirloom varieties. We have recently added Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro to our store which contains spelt.

This is a non-hybridized, heirloom variety of wheat that was cultivated in the Mediterranean countries. It’s richer in phytonutrients than modern wheat, higher in protein, and higher in antioxidants. It’s hearty and chewy with a rich, nutty flavor. Farro is commonly incorporated into soups, stews, and side dishes. It’s also used to make farrotto which is made like risotto.

Like all grains, farro is best prepared by soaking it in warm water and apple cider vinegar. This helps to soften the grain for cooking, but more importantly, it breaks down the phytate found in grains which in turn helps to increase the digestibility and the bioavailability of the nutrients found in the grain. Soaking grains is a traditional practice used by ancient cultures along with sprouting and souring. It’s what helped make their diets richer in trace minerals than a modern diet.

Soaking whole grains overnight is easy, but it does take time. The night before you plan to cook, place the farro in a mixing bowl and cover with warm water and 1 tablespoon Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar. Allow to soak on the countertop, tightly covered, for 18-24 hours. Drain, rinse well, and then it’s ready to use in your recipe.

Try my Sweet Potato and Chard Farrotto which utilizes many local, seasonal veggies along with local, artisanal cheese!

Sweet Potato and Chard Farrotto Recipe

Turmeric Root

Since we are talking about ancient grains, let’s talk about ancient spices. Turmeric root has been used medicinally for over 5,000 years through Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. It’s a highly regarded medicine in its native regions and is among the most antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing herbs available. Recently, turmeric root has been exploding in popularity, and you are finding it everywhere—smoothies, supplements, juices, bone broth, energy bars—you name it.

Turmeric’s popularity is definitely warranted, with its powerful anti-inflammatory properties coming from the phytochemical, curcumin. Modern research has shown it to help many different functions in the body. It can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, reduce inflammation, boost brain function, and control blood pressure.

Most often, turmeric is consumed in a powder form and classically found in Indian and Asian dishes. But, what do you do with the fresh rhizome? Since turmeric is a close cousin to ginger, the fresh turmeric can be used much in the same way as fresh ginger. When I saw fresh turmeric in the Green Bean store, I instantly thought about tossing it into my juicer, or grating it and adding it to my bone broth. A one-inch knob is roughly equivalent to 1 teaspoon dried. If you want to cook with it, try grating it into your dishes, use a microplane to turn it into a paste, or even slice it up and throw it into a blender or food processor, and substitute it in recipes that call for turmeric powder.

I’m excited to use it in the 5-Minute Vegan Golden Milk recipe by the Minimalist Baker. Just substitute the ground turmeric for a one-inch knob of grated fresh turmeric. Enjoy!

Shop Turmeric Root

 


Beth Blessing (Organic Beth) has a Masters in Nutrition and is the co-founder of Green Bean Delivery. She is a mother of three that loves supporting family farms and searching for unique, artisanal products. Her goal is to help others eat better and live a more natural, holistic life through healthy recipes and practical tips. Follow her on Facebook: @OrganicBeth