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17 Different Kinds of Whole Grains You’ve Never Heard Of

You probably know about corn, rice, and oat. And if you’re cultured (or healthy), you know about quinoa and couscous. But I bet you’ve never of these different kinds of whole grains: 

1. Amaranth

A cross between your Comp Sci partner Amar and your neighbor Samantha, this ancient grain Amaranth has been around Central and South America for centuries. It can function like rice or be made into flour for cooked side dishes, cereals, casseroles, and baked goodies.

(Photo via flickr.com)

2. Hulled Barley

Didn’t know this: barley can be either hulled or pearl. Hulled is the natural, unrefined form (more nutritious too), and it only has the outermost husks removed. Can be cooked in stews, soups, and casseroles.

(Photo via corbisimages.com)

3. Freekeh

Time to get freekeh~! This is roasted green wheat, harvested when its still young. High in fiber and protein, it’s a healthy grain Oprah herself has promoted before. Looks like Oprah is gettin’ her freekeh on~! …Alright, enough of that.

(Photo via flickr.com)

4. Teff

Used in Ethiopia to make injera! Click here to see the spongey flatbread called injera.

(Photo via flickr.com)

“Teff” comes from “tff”, the Ethio-Semitic word for “lost” because the seed is so small.

(Photo via flickr.com)

5. Farro

Farro-way in the land of Italy is this barley-like grain’s culinary origins. Used in ingredients for soups and salads, farro can be eaten plain as well after being soaked in water.

(Photo via flickr.com)

6. Kamut

Also know as khorasan wheat (or oriental wheat), this large wheat has a rich, nutty flave. You’ll find it in European baked goods, and apparently, it’s been in the eatings for centuries!

(Photo via corbisimages.com)

7. Buckwheat

Not technically a whole grain, buckwheat is a seed that is high in protein and gluten-free. It’s said to strengthen capillary walls and relieve high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes symptoms. You can find it in Japanese soba noodles and in one of LA’s best crepes.

(Photo via flickr.com)

8. Spelt

You think I spelt it wrong? ;o Also known as dinkel wheat (or hulled wheat), spelt has been eaten since 5,000 BCE. It’s a healthy European staple that is often used in baking.

(Photo via flickr.com)

9. Einkorn

Though said to be the most ancient of wheats accessible today, I feel like einkorn is always trying to be another grain. First, it sounds like “corn”. Second, in France it’s called “little spelt”. And third, in Italy it’s called “little farro”. Though it has a difficult-to-thresh hull and is rejected from the mainstream, compared to contemporary wheat, einkorn is higher in protein, potassium, phosphorus, and beta-carotene. Just be yourself, einkorn!

(Photo via corbisimages.com)

10. Sorghum

Sorghum is also known as milo (could Milo Ventimiglia be named after a grain?! o.o).

(Photo via flickr.com)

Harvested from South Dakota to Texas, most of U.S. sorghum is not eaten by humans, but rather used for wallboards, biodegradable packaging, and animal feeding. That’s too bad because it can actually be consumed via popcorn, baking, porridge, and beer! (Okay, maybe not “too bad” because you are probably getting a higher return on investment from those other products… o.o)

(Photo via corbisimages.com)

11. Durum

The hardest of all wheats, durum is popular in pasta and bread-making.

(Photo via flickr.com)

It’s good for pasta because it’s hardness helps the pasta keep its shape. And bread made only of durum can be very heavy.

(Photo via flickr.com)

12. Triticale

Triticale is a hybrid of durum and rye. Compared to the ancient grains, triticale only came about after 1937 when a mad scientist (jk, he wasn’t mad, just French [ah, jk again!]) figured out a way to make the hybrid fertile. It became super popular because it is easy to grow.

(Photo via flickr.com)

13. Wheatberry

Wheatberry is whole wheat with only the outer hull removed–contains the bran, germ, and endosperm.

(Photo via flickr.com)

14. Millet

These seeds come from cereal grass (didn’t know cereal came from grass!). You can bake it or cook it like oatmeal.

(Photo via flickr.com)

15. Kañiwa

Sounds like quinoa? Well, like quinoa, kañiwa is also a species of goosefoot (the genus name for certain flowering plants, not real goosefeet -_-). It has high protein, high antioxidant capacity, high phenolic content, and can tolerate high mountain conditions. That’s a lot of high.

(Photo via corbisimages.com)

16. Bulgur Wheat

This is wheat that will rob you in the middle of the night. Oh wait–it’s bulgur, not burglar…whew. Bulgur wheat is cereal food composed of the hulled kernels of several wheats. It’s common in food from India, Europe, and the Middle East.

(Photo via flickr.com)

17. Wild Rice

“Um, is wild rice just rice in the wild?” No. In fact, it’s not even rice, it’s a seed made from an aquatic grass. Double the protein and fiber of brown rice, wild rice is commercially grown in California and the Midwest.

(Photo via flickr.com)

I saw them selling wild rice at Whole Foods once, and they mixed it with other grains. They do that because wild rice is soo expensive!

(Photo via flickr.com)

Now, you’re prepared for when your neighbor Samantha asks, “So, what exactly is a whole grain?” And to test you, here’s a pop quiz: What are the names of the grains in the image above? (Turn to the back of this box for answers.)

…Jk, no quiz. Some of the ones I showed you look wayy too similar. But in this image above, I’m pretty sure the middle pile is corn (not einkorn, the wannabe corn).

(Photo via flickr.com)
You can learn more about whole grains from our sources at For Dummies, About Food, and Whole Grains Council.
Featured image via flickr.com.

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