Millet is an ancient seed, originally hailing from Africa and northern China. It has been cultivated in East Asia for the last 10,000 years. Millet is naturally gluten-free, the least allergenic grain and is easy to digest. It’s also rich in iron, B vitamins and calcium. Creamy in color and resembling a pale mustard seed, millet cooks quickly and has a mild, nutty, corn flavor.
Applications: Millet is so versatile; it can be used in main dishes and desserts. It has a delicate nutty flavor and a texture that can be crunchy or soft.
Amaranth was a staple food of the Aztecs, domesticated between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago. It’s a small and tender seed with a delicate, crunchy pop and distinctive peppery, herbal and nutty flavor. It’s high in protein and contains more than three times the average amount of calcium. It’s also high in iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium while being the only grain documented to contain vitamin C.
Applications: Popular in cereals, breads, muffins, crackers and pancakes. It can be used as an exceptional thickener for sauces, soups, stews, and even jellies.
Quinoa originated in the Andes and was domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption in Peru and Bolivia. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It’s also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants.
Applications: Quinoa looks similar to couscous and is as versatile as rice but with a richer, nuttier flavor.
Teff is believed to have originated in Ethiopia between 4,000 B.C. and 1,000 B.C. A grain the size of a poppy seed, teff is a high fiber food and a strong source of protein, iron and calcium. It’s known to naturally balance hormone levels, boost immunity, stimulate digestion and promote cardiovascular health. Teff has a sweet, nutty flavor similar to corn and comes in a variety of colors, from white and red to dark brown.
Applications: Traditionally used as a wheat flour alternative in cookies, breads and pancakes, because of its sticky consistency, it is also used as a binder to thicken sauces, soups and stews.
Sorghum is an ancient cereal grain and was collected 8,000 years ago in Southern Egypt. It was domesticated in Ethiopia and moved throughout all of Africa, where it remains an important cereal grain. It most probably arrived in the Americas with slave traders from Africa in the 19th century. It is high in antioxidants and contains minerals and a range of B vitamins. Sorghum has an edible hull so it is commonly eaten with all its outer layers, thereby retaining most of its nutrients.
Applications: Substitute for wheat flour in a variety of baked goods. Its neutral, sometimes sweet flavor and light color makes it easily adaptable to a variety of dishes. It improves the texture of foods.