This varied list of classic, flavorful, and nutritious grains are taking the spotlight in many modern dishes.
The vast majority of grains cooked and consumed in the US today undergo significant processing for ease, versatility, and mass production. The corn, wheat, and rice products we know today get broken down into sweeteners, flours, or simpler versions of their original, whole-grain state.
Ancient grains, however, are the collection of grains and edible seeds—known as pseudocereals—that better reflect the ingredient’s original form on the plate. In most cases, they resemble the grain consumed for thousands of years without interference. This category may include:
- Wild rice
Ancient grains by definitions have also avoided most genetic modifications, giving them an extra edge on a menu looking to showcase unique flavors. While white processed grains still make it on the menu, club chefs have the opportunity to highlight these unique grains for new textures, earthier flavors, and typically, a higher nutrient content.
Wheat, for example, often loses its outer bran, endosperm, and germ portions of the grain during processing. This discards nutrients like Vitamin B, fiber, trace minerals, and other crucial nutrients. Other ancient grains also contain healthy traces of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates as well as vitamins like iron, magnesium, zinc, and thiamin.
Ancient grains can be used in a wider palette of dishes at the club, including soup, risotto, stir-fries, and whole-grain breads. Since several ancient grains on the list are gluten-free, it also provides more flexibility for members with food allergies and sensitivities.
In some cases, chefs and clubs may choose ancient grains due to their environmental benefits. Since many require less processing energy, pesticides, and watering, eco-conscious clubs can vouch for their contributions to a greener kitchen.
Above all, these unique ingredients offer greater variety to members, pushing the limits of the traditional recipes we’ve learned to recognize for the past century.