I thought I would start with a big one - wheat berries. Wheat is probably one of the most consumed grains out there with the popularity of whole wheat bread as a nutrition staple. Few realize though that wheat berries can be purchased and made into a variety of tasty dishes.
Wheat has been cultivated worldwide for centuries. It is believed that it was first cultivated in Western Asia, but has been found in early artifacts from China, Egypt, and Rome. Egypt provided the wheat for most of the Roman Empire which eventually led to the spread of wheat to Europe, Great Britain and the Orient. When ships from Spain came to the New World in the 16th century, seeds of wheat were on them, and thus began it's cultivation in North and South America.
A good quality wheat is remarkably well-balanced. It can be nearly one-fourth protein and rich in many other nutrients. These include Vitamin E and B vitamins. This is important for those who are cutting back or eliminating altogether their meat consumption.
There are two main types of wheat berries available and it's important to know what they are used for.
- Hard Red which is high in protein and used for bread making.
- Soft white which is higher in starch and used for pastries, cakes and such.
Here are a couple of recipes to try.
Wheat Berry Breakfast Cereal
2 cups of whole wheat berries
4 cups of water
Pinch of sea salt
Soak wheat berries in water the night before. Drain. Add 2 cups of water and salt and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 2 hours until wheat berries are tender.
Alternately you can soak the berries for 8-10 hours. Drain. Put wheat berries in a 1 quart thermos. Boil 2 cups of water and add to the thermos. Cap and lay thermos on it's side. Leave overnight.
Serve wheat berries like porridge, with milk, maple syrup, or honey.
Wheat Berry Tomato Salad
2 cups cooked and cooled wheat berries (see above)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red onion (or substitute green onions or leeks for different flavor)
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/2 clove garlic, minced
Add salt or pepper to taste - or not at all. This salad has tons of flavor.
In a large bowl, toss together the wheat berries, tomatoes, and onion. Put the basil, oils, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper into a blender container. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour dressing over salad and toss.
I get my wheat berries (and many other whole grains) from Hampshire Farms here in Michigan. They sell beautiful, organic, grains at a great price. Google to find a place near you! Or scope out your local farmer's markets to find a source.
For more reading on whole grains check out this post.