‘Going against the grain’? Think again

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

In a society which seems obsessed with low-carbohydrate living, we often miss a variety of interesting options currently lining the grocery store shelves.  I will confess to being an oatmeal fan, and coconut flour too has recently found its way into my protein shakes. While both of these choices offer a plethora of health benefits, there are a few “new kids on the block” worth exploring, as they are nutrient-dense and offer a break from the omnipresent brown rice!


This grain originated in Egypt, which helps to explain the nickname of “Pharoah’s wheat”. As use gained in popularity Farro migrated to Italy, where the Romans of old cultivated it into their diets as a healthy alternative to pasta. Delivering high amounts of protein and fiber, both of which are conspicuously absent from plain spaghetti noodles, it merits further investigation. This grain also contains magnesium, which supports muscle, nerve and bone function. Niacin comes along for the gastronomic ride as well, helping the body break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins more easily.


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Technically classified as a seed, this gluten-free alternative is one of the select few grains which contain lysine, making it a “complete” protein. This particular amino acid is not present in most other grain sources, with the exception of quinoa. A find such as this is always heartily welcomed by vegetarians and vegans alike.


This Middle Eastern cereal grain is derived from an early harvest, hence its green color. The grain is then roasted before it is ready to eat. The advantage of harvesting early is the retention of more of its inherent nutritional value than the mature grain counterparts. A typical serving of ¼ cup (dry) Freekeh offers an active body 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber!  If that is not enough to pique your interest, this grain also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants known to support eye health.

All of these interesting carbohydrate choices are available at most grocery stores, so it may be time to think about “going with the grain”. See how creative you can be by incorporating something fun into tomorrow night’s dinner — even if it is a challenge to pronounce!