by Kae Lani Palmisano for USA TODAY 10Best

10 ancient grains and how to use them

There are so many types of grains, some of which predate our modern grains – and they're packed with nutrients and complex flavors. From baking to cooking, here are 10 ancient grains you should try in your kitchen.


This naturally gluten-free grain has been cultivated for around 8,000 years. It's earthy and nutty in flavor, and though it can be enjoyed like a cereal, it can also be ground down to make a flour that works well in pancakes and breads.


When it comes to experimenting with ancient grains, try baking with spelt first as it can fully replace all-purpose flour in most recipes. This ancient variety of wheat is also an excellent source of fiber.


Einkorn is the oldest wheat known. As it is nutrient-rich and full of flavor, it’s the perfect replacement for whole wheat flour, especially when it comes to rustic, whole grain breads.


Khorasan, sometimes called kamut or even kamut khorasan, has a firm texture that when paired with its earthy, nutty taste, makes it a great grain for baking.


Gluten-free millet adds a sweet corn flavor and texture to whatever it's baked in. And because millet is a seed, it can be ground into a flour or prepared like a whole grain.


A variety of farro, emmer can be cooked like a whole grain or ground into a flour for baking. It’s one of those grains that’s great with savory flavors such as onions, garlic and other aromatic spices.


Unlike many of these grains, sorghum can be turned into a syrup. Sorghum syrup is thinner than molasses and has a slightly more sour taste, which makes it more appropriate for salad dressings and sauces.


Over 7,000 years old, rye is a grass that is part of the wheat family. It’s mostly used to make flour, but it can also be used in brewing beer and distilling spirits like whiskey and even vodka.


If you’re keeping track of your blood glucose levels, barley is an excellent choice as it's one of the lowest glycemic index grains available. It can be ground into a flour and used as a full substitution for all-purpose flour in baking.


Another gluten-free ancient grain, buckwheat is an outstanding source of fiber and other nutrients. As a flour, buckwheat is great in pancakes, breads, scones and muffins. It can also be used to make gluten-free noodles and pastas.

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