It's pretty hard to avoid all the nutrition talk out there about the harmful effects of gluten containing grains. Even diets that completely eliminate all grains are becoming more popular.
So why a post on the healthful effects of grains? Well, for those people who are sensitive to grains or are looking to create a particular affect in the body avoiding grains may be appropriate (more on that in another post). But the fact remains that almost every culture around the world has historically used grain as a staple ingredient. Grains are a powerhouse of energy and nutrition. And this is especially true when eating a variety of organic whole grains.
Before you begin though - make sure to check out my tips for cooking all grains at the bottom of this post. There you'll find some ways to ensure you get maximum digestibility from your grains.
It can be all too easy to slip into eating the same old grains every day so below are a few grains you should eat more! I've also included a summary of their energetic makeup and some traditional uses to help you decide which grains would be good for you based on your constitution, health condition, and the season.
Amaranth is a gluten free grain that has a very high nutrition profile including high levels of protein (about 9g per cup) and calcium. Because of this amaranth is a great grain for children and the elderly and to consume during pregnancy.
Energetically amaranth is drying and cooling. Use it to treat "dampness" which can manifest as swelling, edema, lung congestion and urinary tract infections. It is especially helpful if your condition has associated "heat" signs such as a feeling of heat, irritability, sticky yellow phlegm or redness.
- Cook 1 part grain to 2 parts water for cooked grain. Simmer uncovered until grain is cooked about 20 min.
- Cook 1 part grain to 3 parts water for porridge. Simmer uncovered until grain is cooked well about 20 min.
Barley is a nourishing grain that is cooling and strengthening to the digestive system. Because it nourishes fluids and has a cooling quality it is a great grain to use when feeling overheated in the summer, or in cases of inflammation. Due to its strengthening qualities it can be used when there is depletion in the body. * Please note: Barley is not gluten free.
- Drink roasted barley tea 1-2 cups daily for chronic diarrhea
- Eat ground raw barley 2 tbsp two times per day for yeast infections
- Eat cooled barley congee for urinary tract infections
Buckwheat is a gluten free grain whose thermal nature is neutral and has the energetic sweet flavor. It is also considered tonifying and can help to improve appetite.
There are a few different forms of buckwheat you can purchase. "Groats" are hulled whole buckwheat and "kasha" are toasted buckwheat groats.
- Sprout buckwheat: immerse 1 cup of raw buckwheat groats in 3-4 cups water. Soak overnight and in the morning rinse offand replace with fresh water (the soak water will be slimy overnight - this is normal). After 8-12 hours of soaking rinse the buckwheat again. After rinsing the buckwheat will sprout.
- OR try lightly toasting it in the oven after the last soak until it’s dry and crispy
Millett is a low sugar and high fiber grain. It is sweet, salty and cooling in nature. It moistens dryness and builds fluids (yin). It's a diuretic and so it's specifically good for strengthening the kidneys. It's anti-fungal nature can also help with candida overgrowth. This grain is not especially suited for those who have a weak digestion and watery stools.
- 1 cup grain to 3 cups water. Add salt to water before adding grain. Simmer 25-30 min. Remove and leave covered 5 min.
Tips for ALL GRAINS
- Wash grains before cooking - this removes residues and layers of the grain that are more difficult to digest such as "saponins"
- Soak grains prior to cooking in fresh clean water about 8-12 hrs. This helps to start the break down of the grain and aids in digestion.
- Each grain has a different water to grain ratio.
- Remember to chew!