Like fashion, everything old is new again with food, and “ancient grains” like spelt are gaining traction. Cutting to the chaff, spelt has been around since the Roman Empire and contains vital nutrients, including a spectrum of B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium — a mineral that has been shown to slow the aging process. Spelt is also a good source of fiber, which may improve your microbiome and gut health, according to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Though it does contain gluten, spelt can be easier to digest than other kinds of wheat, which is good news because its nutty flavor and resilient texture can create crave-worthy dishes. Here’s how to invite this ultra-nutritious comeback kid into your kitchen.
1. Sub for rice in burrito bowls
To score twice as much iron for better brain function and optimal oxygen delivery.
In a large bowl, layer 1 cup cooked spelt, ½ cup black beans, ½ sliced avocado, ½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes, ½ cup cubed mango, ¼ cup chopped cilantro and 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds. Add a dollop of sour cream and squeeze on lime juice (to taste).
2. Switch for white flour in pancakes
To boost potassium, which improves blood pressure and reduces anxiety.
Mix together ¾ cup spelt flour, ⅓ cup peanut butter powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add 1 mashed banana, 1 egg and ¾ cup milk. Cook pancakes on a greased skillet 2 minutes per side.
3. Trade with bulgur in tabbouleh
To double your intake of thiamine, which supports energy metabolism.
Toss together 1 cup cooked spelt, 1 cup diced cucumber, 1 cup diced tomatoes, 2 cups finely chopped parsley, ½ cup chopped mint and 2 sliced scallions. Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil, juice of ½ lemon, 2 minced garlic cloves and ¼ teaspoon salt. Drizzle on salad and toss.
4. Replace instant oats in porridge
To get 30 percent more fiber, helping keep appetite in check.
Bring 1 ½ cups spelt flakes, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and 4½ cups water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, or until liquid is mostly absorbed and mixture is creamy. Stir in 1 cup blueberries, ¼ cup sunflower seeds and 2 tablespoons maple syrup and cook 2 minutes more.
5. Use instead of potatoes in a stew
To amp magnesium intake for improved performance.
Place 1 ½ cups whole spelt grain, 3 ½ cups vegetable broth, 1 diced red bell pepper, 1 chopped onion, 3 chopped garlic cloves, ¼ teaspoon chili flakes and ¼ teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Add 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, 1 can navy beans and 4 cups chopped kale. Simmer until spelt is tender, 15 minutes.
Pizza Spelt Salad
Makes: 4 Servings
Get all those cherished pizza flavors in a healthier package.
- 2 cups cooked spelt grains
- 1 cup summer sausage, chopped
- 8 oz bocconcini (mozzarella pearls)
- 1 cup roasted red peppers, sliced
- ⅓ cup Kalamata olives, sliced
- 1 large tomato, halved
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 8 cups baby greens
In a large bowl, toss together spelt, sausage, bocconcini, red peppers and olives. Grate tomato down to the skin and whisk with olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Divide greens among serving plates and top with spelt mixture. Drizzle on tomato dressing.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 552, fat 31 g, carbs 44 g, fiber 9 g, sugar 7 g, protein 21 g, sodium 312 mg