Move over, meat: it’s time for protein-packed grains to take center stage. Studies show that eating more grains like quinoa, barley, farro, and amaranth can boost energy and is associated with longer lifespans. Replace meat with grains that have a high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio.
To find out what makes these “new” whole grains better than, say, a trusty bowl of brown rice, we took to the kitchen—and even discovered some additional benefits along the way! To name a few: a milder effect on blood sugar, and unique compounds like vision-boosting lutein and muscle-building lysine. Here are some really great recipe options to work these superfoods into your diet this spring.
With a nutty, earthy flavor, a “pasta-like” consistency, and a powerhouse nutritional profile, barley is a clear swap from your plain old boring rice dish. Barley contains manganese, selenium, fiber, copper, B vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, and more. Barley can also help aid in digestion due to its fiber content. Barley is delicious tossed into salads, soups, and even veggie burgers. Try my Clean Green Barley Walnut Soup on for size!
Freekeh, another Middle Eastern grain, is made from green wheat that undergoes a roasting process, which imparts a smoky, nutty flavor. With its nutrient-dense profile and ease in cooking (think rice or pasta), freekeh is quickly becoming one of the next big “superfoods.” Freekeh is high in protein and fiber as well as minerals like iron and magnesium. Try it in place of couscous or quinoa in your next grain main meal. My fresh Freekeh Avocado + Roma Tomato Salad is perfect for those in-season tomatoes at the farmer’s market!
This gluten-free, versatile grain can be prepared sweet for breakfast, or savory for dinner. Amaranth is actually a “pseudo-cereal” grain-like seed related to the quinoa, beet, chard, and spinach family. It’s naturally packed with protein, vitamin B6, calcium, and potassium. Try it as a Porridge with fresh berries or pair it with fresh avo + kale for a substantial dinner option like this recipe.
Farro is a delicious ancient grain from the Middle East, wildly popular today in Italy, Europe, and Asia. I love farro—it is earthy, delicious, and packed with fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamins B and E. I like to toss this wild grain into my salads and soups. A farro salad makes for a perfect post-workout lean lunch, or for a filling dinner. Give this ancient grain a try with my Radish and Watercress Detox Salad!