Spelt: The Golden Grain
I’m partial to spelt…
One of my favorite grains is spelt, a member of the wheat family that has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor. In its whole grain form, spelt is referred to as a berry although it looks like a long golden seed or grain.. Similar to rice in texture – but more flavorful – spelt can be used instead of rice in recipes for pilaf, salads, and puddings. Spelt berries can also be boiled and added to cooked steel-cut oats to make a delicious breakfast bowl. Add some cinnamon, chopped bananas and strawberries for a morning feast.
Although spelt is in the wheat family, spelt has a very low gluten content which makes it more tolerable to those sensitive to gluten (but not for those who have celiac disease). High in protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium, spelt berries are low in fat, sugar, and have no sodium. Cultivated throughout Europe for thousands of years, spelt was farmed in the US in the late 19th century but only for a short time because farmers replaced it with other forms of wheat that were easier to hull (spelt requires 2 hullings). Recently, spelt has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity as people discover its nutritional attributes and flavor.
To cook the whole grains (berries), soak 1 cup of spelt grains overnight in cold water, then drain. Bring 3 cups of water or stock to a boil then add the spelt. Cover and reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 40-60 minutes until tender. Drain the excess liquid and use for salads, pilaf, in soups, or in breakfast bowls. If time is an issue, consider purchasing whole grain spelt flakes which look similar to oats and cook in 10-15 minutes on the stove.
Spelt berries and flakes are available at most grocery stores or health food markets at about $3 a pound. To purchase on-line, go to www.bobsredmill.com, www.vitacost.com, www.amazon.com, or your favorite food website.