Tell the U.S. Department of Labor to Close the Retirement Loophole! Learn more

Cook With Ancient Grains

Tired of rice and pasta? Try one of these 10 tasty recipes for quinoa, bulgur, farro and other healthy alternatives

Kamut on a wooden scoop, Cooking with ancient grains

Kamut is one of many ancient grains that are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. — the food passionates/Corbis

The "ancient grains" category refers to a number of grain varieties (and some seeds, such as quinoa, that are used as grains in cooking) that have been eaten in various parts of the world for centuries.

See also: 9 easy, healthy summer picnic recipes

They're a more recent phenomenon in U.S. kitchens, but now spelt, sorghum, millet, quinoa, bulgur, buckwheat, teff, barley, Kamut and amaranth are some that you'll find in many grocery stores — and in many wonderful recipes like these.

1. Farro Minestrone

by Lorna Sass

Farro is a cousin of the wheat berry, quick-cooking and chewy. In minestrone, it won't get mushy as pasta and rice sometimes do. This recipe does have a high sodium content, based in part on the Italian seasoning and the Romano cheese. You can adjust as needed for your dietary considerations (note that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults age 51 and older consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day).

Per serving: 430 calories, 2g saturated fat, 68g carbohydrates, 22g protein, 13g fiber, 1,235mg sodium

2. Quinoa With Green Olives and Red Onion

by Isabel Cruz

Quinoa is not a grain but an edible seed that's high-protein, and a good source of fiber, magnesium, calcium and iron. This side dish recipe, with red onion and red bell pepper, can be served warm or cold.

Per serving: 240 calories, 2g saturated fat, 21g carbohydrates, 5g protein, 3g fiber, 416mg sodium

3. African Millet Salad With Corn and Peppers

by Robin Asbell

When cooked, the texture of millet can become creamy, almost like mashed potatoes, or fluffy, like rice. It's a good source of heart-healthy magnesium. This recipe is full of contrasting textures: juicy tomatoes, crunchy roasted peanuts and the soft millet.

Per serving: 212 calories, 1g saturated fat, 30g carbohydrates, 6g protein, 4g fiber, 310mg sodium

4. Seed Jumble Cookies

by Ricki Heller

Spelt is the ancient grain at work in this healthy cookie, in the form of flour. Almond butter, tahini, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds add more bulk and healthy fats.

Per serving: 194 calories, 2g saturated fat, 24g carbohydrates, 5g protein, 3g fiber, 4mg sodium

5. Banana Seed Bread

by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt

Sorghum and bean flour combine in this gluten-free bread, an excellent use for overripe bananas. It can be made with a mixer or with a bread machine.

Per serving: 166 calories, 1g saturated fat, 21g carbohydrates, 5g protein, 2g fiber, 212mg sodium

Next page: 5 more ancient grain recipes, including bulgur, kasha and polenta. »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Enter an ingredient, course or keyword and get cooking!

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

denny's restaurant member discount membership

Members save 15% all day, every day when dining at participating Denny’s restaurants.

Member Benefit Discount Dunkin Donuts Cream

Members get a FREE Donut with purchase of a L or XL beverage at Dunkin' Donuts.

Outback membership benefit aarp festive steak dinner

Members save 15% on lunch and dinner every day at Outback Steakhouse.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.