Monday, January 5, 2009

Clearing Up Confusion About Grains

What's "whole grain" and what isn't? Is "wheat bread" the same as "whole wheat bread"? What are ancient grains?

A New Hampshire publication called Feast, which is a supplement to the Telegraph newspaper, published a nice piece on grains that clears up many common misconceptions.

To summarize the two main points:
* Ancient grains are those that have not been modified (or have been less modified) by modern agricultural techniques of selective breeding and genetic modification. The article lists amaranth, millet, quinoa, spelt, kamut, sorghum, teff, faro and einkorn.

* "Whole grain" does not mean that grains are whole and intact. It means that all elements of the grain are present in the same proportion as found in the intact grain. Flours, breads, pastas and other foods that are not whole grain contain just some parts of the grain, not the whole thing.
The Spartan Diet calls for the embrace of ancient grains in part because they tend to be healthier, and also in part to increase dietary variety. They can also be very easy to prepare. For example, Quinoa can replace rice in just about every dish where rice is called for, but you can cook it in just a few minutes.

The Spartan Diet also bans the consumption of any grain -- modern or ancient -- that is not "whole." Grains, like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and other foods are healthiest when consumed whole.

The Spartan Diet book will go into detail on grains, what to look for, where to buy them and how to prepare them, including recipes.