Food manufacturers have gotten creative with these whole grains, many of which allow for gluten-free product development.
After quinoa’s popularity went mainstream in 2013 when the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations declared it to be the International Year of Quinoa, the concept of ancient grains began to resonate with consumers. In response, food manufacturers started getting creative with these whole grains, many of which allow for gluten-free product development.
Ancient grains are defined as grains that have been largely unchanged since the beginning of time. This definition suggests modern varieties of corn, rice and wheat, which are products of years of selective breeding, are not ancient grains, according to The Whole Grain Council. Ancient grains tend to be richer sources of nutrients than modern grains; in particular, richer in fiber and protein, as well as many vitamins and minerals.
Though ancient grains are popular in baked goods and cereals — foods where one expects to find grains — they are also finding their way into meals and side dishes, often in combination with plant proteins, namely pulses, according to Packaged Facts, Rockville, Md. Pulse-based ingredients are particularly valuable in improving the nutrient quality of gluten-free products, many of which are now being made with ancient grains instead of nutrient-void gluten-free staples rice and tapioca flour, as pulses and ancient grains complement each other from nutrition and sensory perspectives.
“For food processors, these ingredients provide whole-food, plant-based protein sources that enhance appearance, deliver unique tastes and textures, pack a nutritional wallop, and invite variety and innovation,” says David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts.
“We know vegetarian and flexitarian dietary patterns are continuing to trend. This is driving the popularity of nutrient-dense ancient grains” ~ Jane Dummer, registered dietitian and author of The Need for Seeds.