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Raindrops on roses...

Raindrops on roses and grains in my kitchen... These are a few of my favorite things. Singing yet? Julie Andrews I am not, but I do have some kitchen loves to share with you today.

Lately I've been rediscovering some new (really old) grains. I've been having fun experimenting with them and subbing them in for other, more common grains (read: brown rice, quinoa). I want to share these new/old healthy grains with you.

Grains are the scourge of food for some, and to them, I say- read on, because I love my healthy grains. Whole grains are a huge source of energy, have key vitamins and minerals, and are naturally low fat. They have been linked to lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. As with any food, if you go overboard eating them, they can be caloric, but in moderation they are healthy. In my mind, they help round out my diet and provide a certain satiation that some days I really need.

The first of my new grain loves (ok, really it's uber-old, but newish to me) is spelt. Wheat's cousin, and popular world-wide, it's gaining fans here because it doesn't require much fertilizer and resists disease and pests more than other grains due to its tough outer shell. High in manganese, B2, niacin, thiamin, it's heart-healthy b/c of the niacin and the fiber, which fight bad cholesterol. (½ cup of cooked spelt = 123 calories.) Although it is not suitable for those with celiac disease, spelt does contain less gluten than wheat and could be easier able to digest for those who are just wheat-sensitive.

I cook my spelt similarly to rice, in veggie stock and sometimes will throw in some mushrooms and broccoli for added flavor and nutrients. It is a 3:1 liquid:spelt ratio, generally takes about 65-95 minutes to cook, and has a slightly nutty flavor.

Second grain on my brain- amaranth. Anyone grow up eating cream of wheat? To me, that was a big time comfort food. Amaranth mimics this old dish, and provides that warm, feel-good food we all need sometimes! If you would rather not have sweet, it can also be a savory dish, prepared similarly to rice.

Amaranth is known for it's awesome nutritional value. It is high in fiber (21% per cup - triple that of wheat!), amino acid lysine, magnesium, and calcium. Protein? Yup- it has that, too. At 9 grams per cup, it makes a good source of protein as well. Did I mention it's gluten-free, and suitable for those with celiac disease?

Amaranth cooks at a 2 ½:1 cup ratio for about 20 minutes, and I generally cook my amaranth in water. Towards the end of cooking, I add in a splash of almond milk. Once finished, I'll add in some raisins and walnuts, or coconut and sunflower seeds, a drizzle of honey and voila! My healthy, easy-to-cook feel good, throwback food!

So, there you have a few of my favorite things and, despite my singing abilities (ahem) I do have grains on my brain. I hope that by trying one of of these healthy, energizing "new" grains above, you might, too!

For daily tips and tidbits of fun healthy information, AND for a free e-book, go to WayToGoHealthy.

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