When you are on a low FODMAP diet, it is easy to fall into a rut and just rely on a couple of staple grains like rice and corn and their products. However, if you are not expanding on your choices of low-FODMAP grains, you are going to miss out on the variety of nutrients and flavors! Let’s explore what low-FODMAP ancient grains are, and how you can use them in the kitchen.
5 Low FODMAP Ancient Grains
As many of your favorite grains and cereals are off limits during the low FODMAP diet – due to the fructooligosaccharide content in wheat, barley, and rye – you may need to incorporate new options to get all the nutritional benefits of wholegrain foods. Ancient grains can come to the rescue as there are many low FODMAP varieties that can offer a tasty change of menu. In addition, they can help break the monotony and make your diet more interesting and easier to stick to.
The Whole Grains Council defines ancient grains as “grains that are largely unchanged over the last several hundred years”. These can also include heirloom varieties, such as red and black rice or blue corn, and grains that are staples in non-Western countries. Teff, millet, quinoa, and buckwheat are some examples.
Several ancient grains such as farro, einkorn, Kamut, and freekeh, are varieties of wheat. Therefore, they are not suited for a low FODMAP diet. However, there are many low-FODMAP ancient grains. In general, they have more protein, fiber, and higher content of important minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, and selenium than wheat. In addition, they have a distinct, “nutty” flavor: experiment in the kitchen and find the one you like best. If you are not familiar with them yet, find a store that sells them in bulk. This way, you can buy small amounts before committing to an entire package.
How To Use Low FODMAP Ancient Grains
This is one of the more well-known ancient grains and has recently become popular even in Western countries. Although quinoa is technically a seed, in the kitchen, we use it as a grain. There are several varieties of the more popular yellow seed: orange, pink, red, purple, and black. Sometimes, you can find them mixed together and make a more colorful dish. Quinoa makes a great substitute for rice as a side dish or a grain salad. It also makes a great replacement for Bulgur in Tabbouleh.
Nutrient punch: it contains potent antioxidants and is renowned for having all the essential amino acids (unlike most other grains).
A staple in Africa in India, millet was used instead of wheat to make pita bread in Egypt and chapati in India. It is great as a side dish or a base to “soak up” dishes cooked in a tomato sauce, or the classic Tunisian couscous. You can use millet flour for bread or breakfast porridge. See my Cream of Millet and Quinoa recipe below. You can think of it as an upgraded version of the better-known “cream of wheat”.
In spite of its name, buckwheat is not a variety of wheat nor a grain but a seed. Buckwheat is used to make Japanese soba noodles which are great for stir-fries. Buckwheat groats make a great breakfast porridge or grain salad. You can use the flour to make delicious pancakes or waffles; in France, they even make crepes with it!
Nutrient punch: like quinoa, it boasts antioxidants and has all the essential amino acids.
Teff is the world’s smallest grain. It is used in Ethiopia to make the traditional Injera, a flatbread. As the grains are so tiny, it works well to make breakfast porridge. If you are not as adventurous as to try injera, teff flour also makes great pancakes.
Nutrient punch: teff is high in calcium, for being a grain.
Sorghum is a vitally important crop in areas of the world with very little rainfall due to its resistance to drought and is the primary grain for millions of people in Africa and India. In its earlier stages, it looks like corn although it does not grow as tall. You can pop the grains and make tiny popcorn or use sorghum for a grain salad. The mild taste of its flour makes it quite suitable for baking muffins, cookies, or quick bread, mixed with other gluten-free flours.
In sum, there is no reason to limit yourself to a couple of tried-and-true grains while on a low FODMAP diet. By using low-FODMAP ancient grains, you can expand the variety of grains you can eat without experiencing tummy troubles. In turn, you may discover some new favorites and improve your nutrition too!
Cream of Millet & Quinoa
½ cup millet
½ cup quinoa
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 cinnamon stick
¼ tsp salt
3 cups unsweetened almond milk, plus extra for serving
- Grind millet and quinoa to flour in a nut/coffee grinder.
- Add the ginger, cinnamon, salt, and almond milk. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, stirring often to prevent sticking or creating lumps, for 6-8 minutes or until the “porridge” is cooked through and thickened to your liking. Cover and let rest 3-5 minutes.
- Portion out the porridge into a bowl (for eating immediately) and three glass containers for the left-over servings to refrigerate.
- When serving, add more almond milk if you want a thinner consistency, and top with low-FODMAP servings of maple syrup or brown sugar, chopped nuts, or berries.
Note: The porridge will thicken even more in the refrigerator. When reheating leftovers, put them in a saucepan (or in a bowl to microwave) with enough extra almond milk to reach the desired consistency.
Yield: 4 servings
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Author: Antonella Dewell, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Natural Chef