Dietitians have the knowledge, compassion, flexibility to help people achieve their health goals.

Ancient Grains - Respect your Elders!

(meal plan)

Ancient grains are seriously underrated!

There are so many types to choose from to switch it up from your regular carbohydrate options i.e. pasta, rice, and potatoes. As I mentioned in last week's post - BALANCE and VARIETY is the key to eating well. It ensures you eat a wide spectrum of nutrients throughout the year. Like all grains, ancient grains can be eaten in their whole form or in their ground up form as a flour.


This week we are exploring six ancient grains:

Spelt (~9000 years old)

  • chewy texture and sweet, nutty flavor
  • relative of durum wheat
  • it has never been hybridized (unlike wheat), so it has retained many of its original characteristics from antiquity, including complex flavor and whole-grain nutrition
  • although not gluten free, many people with wheat intolerance are able to tolerate it
  • per serving: 4 g fibre, 6 g protein, 10% of your daily iron



Bulgur (~4000 years old)

  • soft texture and nutty flavor
  • quick cooking 
  • made from whole grain hard red wheat (so not gluten free) that has been parboiled, dried and cracked
  • staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines 
  • per serving: 5 g fibre, 6 g protein, 10% of your daily iron, 2% of you daily calcium



Amaranth (~8000 years old)

  • earthy, nutty flavor
  • actually a seed (so gluten free)
  • complete protein
  • staple food of ancient Aztec people 
  • grows very well in less-than-ideal soil
  • per serving: 7 g fibre, 8 g protein, 20% of your daily iron, 8% of your daily calcium



Millet (~10,000 years old)

  • pleasant mild, slightly sweet flavor
  • quick cooking 
  • gluten free and alkaline
  • revered as one of five sacred crops in ancient China
  • mentioned in the Old Testament, the writings of Herodotus, and the journals of Marco Polo
  • per serving: 3 g fibre, 5 g protein, 8% of your daily iron



Barley (~10,000 years old)

  • pleasant, chewy texture and slight nutty sweetness

  • not gluten free

  • most common varieties (like pear barley) have bran layer and germ removed in the process of removing the hull, but some "hull-less" varieties that don't require this exist (try Bob's Red Mill Whole Hull-less Barley)

  • classic ingredient in Scottish Broth

  • per serving: 8 g fibre, 6 g protein, 10% of your daily iron, 2% of you daily calcium



Wheat Berries. (~10,000 years old)

  • sweeter, milder tasting whole wheat (so not gluten free)

  • can be red (robust, full flavor ) or white (sweeter, milder tasting) 

  • can be soft (flour is often used for pastries) or hard (used for breads - higher protein and gluten)

per serving (white): 6 g fibre, 6 g protein, 10% of your daily iron, 2% of you daily calcium

per serving (red): 6 g fibre, 6 g protein, 8% of your daily iron, 2% of you daily calcium


Ancient grains are packed with nutrition because most are less refined/processed (a.k.a. whole grain) than the more commonly eaten grains i.e. wheat, rice, corn.

Each has a unique flavor and texture that other cultures have been appreciating for thousands of years.

Get familiar with some ancient grains with this week's meal plan and I promise you won't be disappointed... you might just discover a new favourite! (CLICK BELOW)


                         Ancient Grains - Respect your Elders!