A Grain with a Great Backstory

Don't you love a grain with with a good back story?

Kamut - King Tut's Wheat

Diving into the DIY granola craze, I've discovered a new grain with a great history. Okay, so I've made granola at home three or four times and inspired a few Twitter followers to make their own with this Homemade Granola the DIY Delicious Way with a Touch of Chocolate. In my book, we now officially have a "craze."

I noted that the fabulous DIY Delicious: Recipes and Ideas for Simple Food from Scratch author, Vanessa Barrington was marvelously "flattered" by the New York Times who ran a DIY Cooking Handbook piece w/nary a mention of the woman who, literally, wrote the book. They should know better. So maybe they were inspired, too. See? It really is a trend!

So what the heck is Kamut? I have to admit, when I saw this at Whole Foods:

I had to buy it! Roasted, good. Cooks in three minutes, good. Eden Organic. Good!

I enjoyed my first bowl as an oatmeal stand-in. Made simply and mixed with some leftover bulgur, and a drizzle of this insanely good maple syrup aged in Bourbon barrels.

Wheat on Wheat - proving that have no issues with gluten.

Yes, I said Bourbon barrel-matured maple syrup. A real treat, if ever there was one. Honestly, I could eat King Tut's dessicated foot with that maple syrup and be happy.

 

Back to our mysterious ancient grain...

The legend is that someone brought back some grains appropriate from some Egyptian tomb and grew it out back here in the states. Originally named "King Tut's Wheat" it is now registered to the enterprising farmers who nurtured it back to a crop we can now all enjoy. Several things make Kamut a great grain for your table.

First, it was most definitely enjoyed by ancient Egyptians, and who wouldn't want to dine like Cleopatra and Tutankhamun? What this really means for us is that this is a wheat that was not bred for modern agriculture, making it nutritionally superior and able to be grown without artificial fertilizers and pesticides. A sustainable super grain! Modern wheat varieties were bred for higher output, resistance to pests, etc. but had to sacrifice nutrition along the way. (See what Nature does? Mess with her and you get something inferior that causes digestive problems and necessitates more and more chemicals, depletion of the soil...well you get the picture.)

Interestingly, there is some evidence that this is better tolerated by those with gluten sensitivity, too. Kamut has 20–40% more protein, is higher in lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals than our modern varieties.

Another great grain with a good story is Quinoa. Unfortunately, it seems that we Norte Americanos have grown so fond of this nutritional powerhouse, that indigenous peoples can no longer afford it. The grain (it's actually a seed, but that doesn't sound as nice) that sustained them against all odds, including marauding Spaniards, is now too dear for the locals to buy. I'm hoping we have a nice fair trade operation step up to the plate and fix this unfair situation. I really would like us to enjoy quinoa with out guilt.

One thing I've learned via my support of the Joslin Diabetes Center's Spoonful of Ginger event, is that a bowl of white rice has as much sugar as a can of soda. Asian-Americans are at a much higher risk of diabetes, it seems that our physiology cannot tolerate the influence of the American diet as well as Caucasians can (and let's face it, the standard fare of most Americans could use a little help no matter who the consumer is.)

Since we are definitely kids who grew up loving our bowl of white rice, we have a hard time imagining living without it. As you know I'm a big fan of small steps. Rather than banish our beloved Ba Fan or Gohan - I'm trying to add other grains to the rotation so that we enjoy a broader, healthier variety. A recent experiment cooking white rice mixed with quinoa in the rice cooker, was a hit.

Look at this beautiful bowl:

This even worked well in fried rice the next day.

 

This is really easy and delicious. By adding 1/3 C of rinsed quinoa to the rice, you add protein and replace sugars. It's not perfect but you know what? It's a step in the right direction.

 

If ancient Egyptians joined the DIY craze...

My Kamut granola is cooling, scenting the house with Arvinda's Chai spice blend and Neilsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla. I can't wait for breakfast!

Granola fit for a Pharoah

 

  • 1 1/2 C Kamut flakes
  • 1 1/2 C Oats
  • 1 C flaked coconut
  • 1/4 C crushed cocoa nibs
  • scant 1/2 C pepitas
  • 1/4 C sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 C pistachios
  • 1/2 C chopped peanuts
  • 1 C chopped dates, dried cherries
  • 1/4 C wheat germ and ground flax
  • 1 tsp Arvinda's Chai spice
  • 1/2 tsp Neilsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • scant 1/3 C hexane-free expeller-pressed canola oil
  • 1/3 c honey

 

Everything but the honey and dried fruits gets mixed up and spread out over two cookie sheets. Bake at about 330 for about 10 minutes and toss to ensure it toasts evenly. Bake another 7-10 minutes and remove from the oven. Toss with dried fruit and warmed honey. Cool and resist picking out the toasty coconut flakes.

 

Here's a tip: make any hot breakfast grains sing by dropping a couple drops of really good vanilla in the bowl first. When the hot grains hit the vanilla it's magic.