No sooner had you figured out how to pronounce the word quinoa (KEEN-wah, FYI) than a dozen more hard-to-pronounce whole grains started hitting your grocer’s shelves. Among the latest crop of soon-to-be-trendy carb sources to offer a host of healthy benefits—like fending off heart disease, diabetes, and obesity—are grains like freekeh and amaranth. There’s also barley, perhaps best known for making beer. To find out what makes these “new” whole grains better than, say, a trusty bowl of brown rice, we took to the kitchen—and even discovered some additional benefits along the way (to name a few: a milder effect on blood sugar, and unique compounds like vision-boosting lutein and muscle-building lysine). And now, three great recipes to work these superfoods into your diet this fall.

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BARLEY

With a chewy, pasta-like consistency, yet firm enough to withstand simmering or slow cooking, barley is a smart swap for rice in soups or noodles in Asian-inspired bowls. (And you thought it was just used to make malt…) The nutty-tasting grain’s got a glycemic index of only 28—for reference, white rice is at 89—meaning barley has only a mild effect on blood sugar. Research suggests that the slow-digesting grain may also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and aid weight loss. 

BARLEY AND SNAP PEA SAVORY TOFU BOWL (ABOVE)
SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS
2 cups pearled barley 
1 1/2 cups shelled organic edamame
1 cup snap peas, ends removed, cut on the bias 
2 medium squares smoked tofu (like Trader Joe’s or WestSoy), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup wild arugula, optional

FOR THE DRESSING:
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce 
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
Lemon zest, optional 

DIRECTIONS
1) Add barley and 5 1/2 cups of water to a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer on low for approximately 50 minutes or until all the liquidis absorbed. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
2) Place all dressing ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. 
3) Add cooled barley to the bowl and tossto combine. 
4) Add shelled edamame and snap peas, and toss gently to combine. Top off with smoked tofu cubes and arugula, and season the salad, as needed. 

FREEKEH

Smoky-tasting freekeh (FREAK-eh) is wheat that’s been harvested early—hence its green color and nickname “green wheat”—and then roasted. Because it’s gathered when it’s young, the Middle Eastern cereal grain retains more protein and fiber than more mature wheat. A quarter-cup (uncooked) contains six grams of protein and four grams of fiber, beating out brown rice. Freekeh also delivers lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that support optimal eye health. 

FREEKEH, AVOCADO, AND ROMA TOMATO SALAD
SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS
1 cup freekeh
2 ripe roma tomatoes, sliced into half-moons
1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into half-moons 
1/2 
cup fresh Italian parsley, torn, stems removed
1 large, ripe avocado, sliced 

FOR THE DRESSING: 
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
Juice of 1/2 lemon 
2 tsp
 fresh ginger, grated
1/2 
tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp soy sauce 

DIRECTIONS 
1) Add freekeh and 2 1/2-3 cups of water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for approximately 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and cool.
2) Place all dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. 
3) Add cooled freekeh to the bowl and toss to combine.
4) Add tomatoes, cucumber, and parsley. Toss gently to combine. Top off with avocado slices, and season the salad to taste, as needed.

AMARANTH

Amaranth is the only gluten-free “grain” (technically it’s a pseudocereal, meaning it’s really a seed) on our list. What makes it unique: Amaranth contains lysine, an amino acid that’s missing from the majority of whole grains. So, like quinoa, it can be considered a complete protein.

CREAMY AMARANTH AND NECTARINE PROTEIN PORRIDGE
SERVES: 2

INGREDIENTS
1 cup coconut milk beverage or almond milk 
1 cup amaranth 
1/2 tsp sea salt 

FOR TOPPING: 
2 tbsp natural almond butter
2 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt or Icelandic skyr strained yogurt 
1 tbsp local, grade-A honey
1/2 nectarine, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS
1) In a medium saucepan, boil 2 cups water and 1 cup coconut milk beverage or almond milk. 
2) Once the liquid is bubbling, pour in amaranth and reduce heat to a light simmer and add sea salt. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until a porridge-like consistency forms. 
3) When amaranth is cooked through, pour into two breakfast bowls. Top each with 1 tbsp almond butter, 1 tbsp Greek yogurt or skyr, 1 tbsp honey, and . of a nectarine. Add additional almond milk or coconut beverage if desired. Mix to eat.

FARRO

Like its name implies, farro—a.k.a. pharaoh’s wheat–originated in Egypt before making its way to Italy, where ancient Romans ate it as a healthy alternative to pasta. The protein- and fiber-rich grain has a nutty flavor and chewy texture and makes a killer post-workout recovery meal. Farro’s a good source of magnesium, which supports muscle, nerve, and bone function, and niacin (vitamin B3), which helps the body break down carbs, fat, and protein. 

FARRO, SUNDRIED TOMATO, AND APPLE CHICKEN SAUSAGE POWER LUNCH
SERVES: 4

INGREDIENTS
2 cups Farro, rinsed
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 chicken sausage links, sliced on the bias
1 cup baby spinach, washed and dried
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

FOR THE DRESSING:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
3/4 tsp sea salt

DIRECTIONS
1) In a medium saucepan, combine farro with 4 cups of water, bring to a boil, then simmer on low for approximately 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
2) While the farro cooks, place sausage in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion and sauté for 6-8 minutes until slightly golden. Add sliced chicken sausage and sauté until there’s color on each side. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
3) When the farro is cooked through, remove from the heat and cool.
4) Place dressing ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the cooled farro to the bowl and toss to combine.
5) Add cooled chicken sausage mixture, baby spinach, and sundried tomatoes, and toss to combine. Top with goat cheese crumbles.