Though it’s fine to enjoy a bowl of pasta or a couple of pieces of toast, Nadia Lim suggests including other grains in your diet.
Grains are the hard, dry seeds harvested from grain crops. The three most commonly eaten grains worldwide are rice, wheat and corn, however in the Western food chain, wheat has by far been the dominant grain.
Wheat infiltrates our food chain everywhere. If you think about a typical person’s diet, they’re eating wheat in their cereal at breakfast, in their (bread) sandwich at lunch, in a muesli bar or muffin as a snack, and, if they are not having potatoes, probably wheat in the form of pasta at dinner. So while all these foods may seem very different, they are all derived from the same ingredient — wheat flour.
I have nothing against wheat itself — in its natural form it provides important nutrients. What I am not a fan of is the way it is processed, stripped of all its nutrition, leaving an end result that contains little or nothing useful to the body.
During processing (milling), the bran, wheat germ and endosperm (where all the nutrition — protein, vitamins, minerals and lipids — is contained) are removed. What is left is a fluffy white flour that is shelf-stable, meaning it can be kept for long periods of time without going off — which is very useful to food manufacturers.
One of the cornerstones of a healthy diet is variety; by eating a wider variety of foods you’re more likely to cover all your nutrition bases. I encourage you to explore including other more "interesting'’ grains in your diet. There are hundreds more available that are far less processed and more nutritious. Barley is an old fashioned grain that my grandmother used a lot, in stews, soups and barley water. In this recipe it adds texture and a lovely nutty flavour to a tabouleh salad. Quinoa has become very trendy, but not as many people know about its cousin, amaranth. Here is a healthy dessert or breakfast recipe using this currently underappreciated grain.
For ingredient notes on amaranth, click here.
For a dukkah recipe, click here.
Puffed amaranth and berry parfaits
2 cups frozen mixed berries, defrosted
2 apples, diced
2½ Tbsp liquid honey
½ cup amaranth
1 cup natural yoghurt
⅓ cup toasted sliced almonds
¾ cup toasted coconut shavings
- Heat oven to 200C. Combine berries and apples in a bowl and mix through 1 tablespoon of the honey.
- Heat a medium saucepan (make sure you use one that has a lid) over medium to high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of amaranth at a time, cover with the lid and shake until the seeds pop and are lightly toasted, this will take about 1 minute.
- Remove and set aside. Repeat until you have used all the amaranth.
- Mix yoghurt and remaining honey together.
- To assemble the parfaits, layer the apple and berries, puffed amaranth, almonds, coconut and honey yoghurt in glasses.
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Kale and barley tabouleh
1 cup pearl barley
2½ cups very finely chopped cavolo nero or kale leaves, tough stalks removed
1 small or ½ medium red onion, finely diced
2 lebanese cucumbers, seeds removed, diced
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, quartered
½-¾ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
½-¾ cup sliced mint leaves
2 Tbsp dukkah
⅓-½ cup chopped pistachio nuts
Juice of 1½ lemons
2-3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Cook barley in a pot of boiling salted water until tender, but still a little firm to the bite. This will take about 15-20 minutes.
- Drain barley and rinse under the tap to cool. Drain well and toss with remaining ingredients.
- Season to taste with salt, freshly cracked black pepper and more lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil if needed.