Eat Local! Einkorn Wheat
September 30, 2015
From big-box stores to local health food markets, ancient grains are everywhere! The term “ancient grains” usually refers to grains that were cultivated and eaten thousands of years ago in different areas of the World. They are making a comeback on the food scene as consumers demand alternative grains to wheat.
The typical wheat we find in US breads and other products is much different than the wheat that was cultivated and consumed thousands of years ago, like einkorn. Einkorn wheat is a genetically primitive and ancient form of cultivated wheat, very different than the wheat produced today. There are few farms that are currently cultivating this strain of ancient wheat, a few in our own backyard, Eastern Washington.
Einkorn wheat is higher in protein, carotenoids (like beta-carotene and lutein), B6, potassium, phosphorus and essential fatty acids than ‘modern’ wheat. It has not been genetically-modified to grow taller, faster, stronger and more resistant to drought. It is wheat in its most traditional form and many consumers that are gluten intolerant have found they can digest it without issue.
Einkorn kernels or “wheat berries” can be used the same way as modern wheat. It can be ground to a meal for hot cereal, flour for breads, cookies and cakes, or whole for a hearty whole-grain salad.
Mediterranean Stuffed Zucchini
Every summer brings more zucchini than we can handle. This is a great way to use those big ones to create an easy and flavorful vegetarian entrée or a hearty side dish complimentary to seafood or chicken. Serves 8
2 large (or 4 medium) zucchini
1 Tbsp lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 Tbsps harissa
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups cooked dense whole grain, like einkorn
2 green onions, finely chopped
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup almonds, slivered and toasted
1 cup red or yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup red or yellow sweet pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup parsley or cilantro, chopped
- Heat oven to 400°.
- Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds and pith. Score flesh with diagonal cuts 2″ apart going both ways, creating a criss-cross pattern.
- Place zucchini halves on baking sheet flesh side up. Combine next 5 ingredients and brush on flesh of zucchini. Bake until zucchini becomes fork tender but not mushy, 20 – 40 minutes, depending on the size of the zucchini.
- Meanwhile, combine stuffing ingredients in large bowl. Use vegetables that provide a rainbow of color.
- Place cooked zucchini portions on each plate and heap wih stuffing. Top with yogurt. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro.
Per serving: 350 calories, 12g protein, 47g carbohydrates, 14g fat (2g sat, 12g mono/poly), 9g fiber, 40mg sodium, 18% DV potassium
TIP: If you can’t find harissa, make your own with cumin, paprika and dried chili flakes. Need more heat? Add a dash of cayenne.
Basic Grain Salad
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup yellow squash, grilled and cubed
2-3 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsps fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsps red wine vinegar
2 Tbsps fresh parsley and basil
- Cook grain. The rule-of-thumb is 2 parts water to 1 part grain; bring grain and water to boil, reduce to simmer and without stirring, simmer until water is absorbed. (Time varies between grains; 15-60 minutes.) If you’d like a cold grain salad, try cooking the grain a day ahead and storing in the refrigerator overnight.
- Grill the squash, halve the tomatoes and toss in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add grain to vegetables, stir.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and herbs. Pour over salad and stir/toss.
Tip: Taste and adjust ingredients as needed. Add lemon juice, lemon zest or more herbs/spices for a little more *zing* or 1 tsp honey to add a little sweetness. Salt and pepper are optional.
Article and recipes by Darci Barman, MSN, RDN, LD, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist practicing “foods-first”, functional nutrition at Pilgrim’s Wellness Clinic in Coeur d Alene, ID. For more healthy recipes or info on how to become a patient, see www.darcibarman.com