What Are Ancient Grains?

We read cereal boxes, snack labels, and hear about these “Ancient Grains” all over the place these days. But, what exactly are they? And, are they as good for us as these sources are claiming?

Ancient Grain Overview

There is a collection of unrefined whole grains that fit into this “ancient” category. Basically, these are grains whose roots trace back to before we kept track of time. Ancient grains have not been mutated, bred, refined, and have been left greatly unchanged over the centuries.

Many ancient civilizations such as the Greek, Egyptians, and the Aztecs used (and worshipped) these grains. The Incas considered quinoa sacred and actually named it “the mother of all grains.” Some say faro was mentioned in the Old Testament.

Not all ancient grains are gluten-free, but fortunately, most are.

Gluten-free grains include amaranth, buckwheat, chia seeds, freekeh, millet, and teff. (Oats, spelt, einkorn, faro, and Khorasan wheat “Kamut” contain gluten.)

Are Ancients Better?

It depends on how one defines better. If we’re discussing the environment, then the answer is yes, ancient grains are better. Many of them thrive with less fertilizer and irrigation, as well as lower levels of pesticides in comparison to the modern, hybrid, selectively-bred grains, like wheat.

Various health experts will debate whether ancient grains compose a healthier diet than other whole grains. Many nutritionists, however, assert that ancients provide more vitamin B, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

The Grains, Legumes, and Nutrition Council, leading experts in this aspect of health, explains that all the whole grains are similar. However, some ancient grains are considered pseudo-cereal grains because they’re actually derived from plant seeds, and not prepared or use like “true” grains.

Are they healthier? At the very least, the benefits range from superior levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a high omega-3 content. They are also an excellent form of complex carbohydrates. For the benefits and list of complex carbs click here.

Quick Guide To Ancient Grains

1) Teff. GF (Gluten-free). It’s so tiny, it can’t be processed, which is great. One cup packs in over 100mg of calcium. It’s starch resistant, high in fiber, and can help if you’re trying to shed pounds.

2) Quinoa. GF. Can be prepared in a rice-cooker. Comes in red, black, or white, and can be eaten cold like a traditional pasta salad, or warm with veggies and a lean protein. Extremely nutritious.

3) Millet. GF. It’s rich in magnesium and used in many “bread” products. It also hydrates the colon. Comes in red, white, gray, and yellow whole. Can be used whole or crushed into flour.

4) Amaranth. GF. It’s high in protein and can be used in desserts like cookies and cakes.

5) Sorghum. GF. It grows and thrives without much water. It can be utilized from a flour or syrup base, and can be used to make bread, desserts, and even beer.

6) Freekeh. GF. It’s harvested young so it tends to provide high amounts of nutrients. It’s also low in sugar carbs.

Other ancient grains include spelt, faro (also called emmer), Khorasan (also known as Kamut), and Einkorn. Sometimes these too are considered ancient grains: black barley, buckwheat, blue corn, black rice, and wild rice. (Remember, these are not all gluten-free!)

Hope this brief article on ancient grains helped answer some of your questions about this mysterious-and-healthy, old-yet-trendy food. Check back with Get Thrive soon for some delicious recipes using ancient grains, along with other healthy food tips.

 

 

Best Fall Harvested Foods to Keep You Healthy

Because of frozen food availability and genetic modification, we’ve become accustomed to having any type of produce, all year long. Freshly harvested, organic foods, however, are distinctly available at certain times of the year. Here are some samples of delicious, healthy produce ready for pickin’ and consumption right about now.

The Usual Suspect

Pumpkins are synonymous with autumn and holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. Often pumpkin is used in pies or other sweet desserts. But, there are alternate ways to eat this vitamin-rich food without packing on the pounds.

You can add cooked, cooled pumpkin chunks into smoothies. Sautee slices with other coarse veggies like carrots and then spice with turmeric, garlic, and pepper. You can puree pumpkin (add cinnamon) and spread it on toast or as part of a sandwich. Don’t forget the seeds! They can be roasted in the oven and lightly sprinkled with sea salt to make a yummy snack or as a topping for salads.

Pumpkins and their seeds offer a significant amount of fiber to your diet. High fiber lowers the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. What’s great is that it keeps digestions flowing, but it also makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time. It’s rich in Vitamin A, which is beneficial for vision and eye health. Evidently, the seeds contain tryptophan, which helps the body relax and encourages a good night’s sleep.

Other Fall Produce Worth Incorporating into Your Diet

Rutabaga. This is a root veggie that can be sweet-ish or bland depending on how it’s prepared. It’s a cross between a turnip and cabbage, but its flesh can be potato-like. They can be pureed, made into a soup, roasted, and I’ve even seen recipes adding it to caramelized onion and apple dishes.

The rutabaga is popular in Sweden and is a great source of vitamin C and fiber.

Dates. Here’s a sweet fruit that is highly nutritious; it’s packed with fiber, vitamins (especially potassium), minerals, and low fat. They can be eaten straight up, sliced and topped with cream cheese, or chopped and added to cookies and other treats.

Dates aid in stomach and intestinal processes. In Middle Eastern countries where fasting can be common, dates are often the first food eaten after breaking the fast. They help resist overeating, satisfy hunger, and deliver glucose and beneficial vitamins rapidly.

Brussels Sprouts. These are edible buds from a member of the cabbage family. If prepared properly, they can be incredibly delicious. Many people prepare them with bacon or garlic. They can be a tad bitter, so a groovy sauce that’s either tangy or cheesy can go a long way. Roasting them can be preferred to steaming.

Brussels sprouts are an amazing source of iron and folate (vitamin B9), which is excellent for your blood and DNA reproduction. They also contain vitamin K, which helps build strong bones and aids in heart disease prevention.

Winter squash is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A. It’s yummy prepared with butter, ginger, and cinnamon.

Parsnips look a little like carrots and are a tad sweeter. They add great flavor to soups, and some like to puree them and add to mashed potatoes for a nutty-ish flavor. They’re fiber-filled and offer lots of potassium, too.

Everybody’s Favorite

Of course there are sweet potatoes, which is also a headliner at fall and winter holiday tables. Whichever seasonal fall foods you choose, know that organic and fresh will help keep your body at its peak nutritional health.

For more articles on healthy foods, check out www.GetThrive.com

 

A Complete Guide to Important Vitamins and Minerals

You already know, essential nutrients in our diet are important for our overall wellbeing. And, we’ve all heard that a diet rich in important vitamins and minerals has significant health benefits.  However, knowing which foods are rich in nutrients and what each nutrient does is also of great value. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide to the most important vitamins and minerals.

I’m So Confused! What Does This All Mean?

It can be extremely confusing when various sources say, “Eat this”, “Drink that”, or “Take this supplement.” Oftentimes, we have no idea why certain ingestibles are forced our way—for health’s sake! It’s important that you understand what’s being fed to you. Hopefully, these definitions will help:

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds that are required for the growth and the development of cells. They also assist with  proper functioning of cells throughout the body.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

Fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the body and used at a time when the body needs them. Many people are commonly deficient in such vitamins. Fortunately, it’s a common occurrence and can be treated by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Minerals

Minerals are organic in nature and also necessary for the proper functioning and development of the body. They exist in two types:  macro minerals and trace minerals.

RDA

The RDA stands for Recommended Dietary Allowances. They give individuals an idea about the body’s requirement of different vitamins and minerals. These values vary according to the gender and age of an individual.

King and Queen of the Crop

There are countless combinations of vitamins and minerals that can be paired to benefit best health. Additionally, pairing the two can aid each in their ability to be absorbed into the body. Check out some of the most prominent activists in the vitamin and mineral family:

1.    Biotin

Biotin plays an important role in allowing your body to convert food into energy. Thus, biotin is significant for metabolism, growth, and development of cells. Many nutritionists consider foods such as: eggs, salmon, avocados, and whole grains excellent sources of biotin.

2.    Calcium

The vitamin/element is an important macromineral that helps the body with: blood clotting, proper muscle function, normal hormone secretion, maintaining a normal blood pressure, and other health duties. Calcium also plays an essential role in helping the body fight osteoporosis. Sources of calcium include: milk, cheese, spinach, and tofu.

3.    Chromium

Chromium is a trace mineral. It’s known for supporting insulin activity and breaking down sugar. In most cases, smaller quantities of chromium do the trick. On the other hand, increased use of chromium supplements may cause harmful results in the body. Natural sources of chromium include: whole wheat products, broccoli, and grape juice.

4.    Folic Acid

Another extremely important element in our daily eating regimen is folic Acid. Pregnant women are highly encouraged to add folic acid to their diet. Folic acid may also decrease the risk of acquiring heart disease. You can find folic acid in orange juice, fortified grains, cereals, and lentils.

5.    Iron

Iron can act as the main element for the production of hemoglobin. That’s huge. Aside from that, iron also helps the body produce amino acids, hormones, and collagen. Thus, it is strongly recommended to add iron-rich foods to your diet. Some sources of iron include: potatoes, beef, raisins, spinach, cashews, and even sesame seeds. Keep in mind, also, a significant deficiency of iron has been known to lead to serious health risks.

The End of the ABC’s

If you desire to lead a healthy life, ensuring the presence of important vitamins and minerals in your diet is essential. Only you can make sure you grab the “right” foods. Without essential, important vitamins and minerals, you cheat the strength of your immune system. 

Additionally, spices such as cinnamon can help boost your immune system.