Low in fat and high in fibre, grains are the latest go-to food. Here’s your low-down on the choices and what makes them so nutritious…
Bulgur wheat – Key to the popular Middle Eastern tabouleh salad, this is tasty in other recipes too, such as stuffed vegetables or pilafs. It’s a pale brown, wholewheat grain that has been cracked and partially pre-cooked, and it’s richer in nutrients and vitamins than processed wheat.
Quinoa – Fluffy and creamy when cooked, quinoa comes from the edible seeds of a South American grain crop. There are many varieties, including red, white and black, and it has a delicate nutty flavour. A complete protein, it’s great for vegetarians and a good source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, as well as vitamins B and E.
Teff – Originating from Ethiopia and Eritrea, teff is an ancient grain with tiny gluten-free seeds. It is traditionally used to make flatbread, but it can also be used in bread, salads and baking. Like quinoa, it is high in protein as well as calcium. Until 2015 there was a ban on exporting teff from Ethopia but that’s been lifted – and other countries, such as America, India and Australia, are now growing it too.
Freekeh – the name derives from the process of rubbing by which it is made – is young green wheat that is usually roasted and ‘cracked’. It comes from the Middle East and is an excellent source of protein (even better than quinoa) and contains many essential nutrients such as zinc, iron and calcium. High in fibre, it keeps you feeling full for ages, so it’s ideal for anyone on a diet.
‘Pearl’ couscous – Pearl couscous (or Israeli couscous) is small balls of toasted semolina, pre-cooked in a flame oven. This gives it a chewy texture and a nutty roasted flavour. It contains a good mix of protein, fibre, vitamin C and potassium.