5 Low FODMAP Ancient Grains and How to Use Them

Published on: 11/12/2019

5 Low FODMAP Ancient Grains and How to Use Them

Why are low FODMAP ancient grains something to be aware of? It is easy to fall into a rut when it comes to eating, especially when trying a new diet to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms. It’s totally understandable: once you find what works and settles well with your tummy, why change?

5 Low FODMAP Ancient Grains

When it comes to low FODMAP grains, it is easy to rely on a few tried-and-true staples such as rice, corn tortillas, popcorn, and gluten-free bread or pasta. Nothing wrong with that!

On the other hand, eating can get boring after a while and you may start craving something different. As many of your favorite grains and cereals are off limits –  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.

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.

In this article, we are focusing on low-FODMAP ancient grains. Several ancient grains – for example, farro, einkorn, Kamut, and freekeh – are varieties of wheat and not suited for a low FODMAP diet.

When swapping some of these grains for the more familiar staples, your nutrition may improve as well.

In general, these grains have more protein, fiber, and higher content of important minerals such as iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, and selenium. I will mark additional nutritional benefits as I discuss the grains one by one.

All these grains have a “nutty” flavor: experiment in the kitchen and find the one you like best.

Tip: find a store that sells them in bulk, so you can buy small amounts before committing to an entire package.

How You Can Use Low FODMAP Ancient Grains

Quinoa

This is one of the more well-known ancient grains and has recently become popular even in Western countries. Technically a seed, quinoa is considered and used as a grain.

There are several varieties of the most popular yellow seed – orange, pink, red, purple, and black – which are sometimes mixed together and make a colorful dish. Quinoa makes a great substitute for rice as a side dish or a grain salad, or it can replace bulgur in tabbouleh.

Nutrient punch: it contains potent antioxidants and is renowned for having all the essential amino acids (unlike most other grains).

Millet

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 (think of it as an upgraded version of the better-known “cream of wheat”).

Buckwheat

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

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

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 flour.

Cream of Millet & Quinoa

Ingredients

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

Procedure
  1. Grind millet and quinoa to flour in a nut/coffee grinder.
  2. 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.
  3. Portion out the porridge into a bowl (for eating immediately) and three glass containers for the left-over servings to refrigerate.
  4. 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

Want to learn more?

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I’m a registered dietitian with a passion for helping women with IBS find their way back to eating without fear of painful gut symptoms and without unnecessary diet restrictions.

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