HEALTH & WELLNESS Nutrition  >  The Ancient Grains Super-Salad

The Ancient Grains Super-Salad

The Ancient Grains Super-Salad
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Ancient Grains Such as Quinoa, Amaranth, Flaxseed and Spelt are packed with nutritional punch as well as some great, leafy greens.

I’ve been experimenting with Ancient grains lately.  This was mostly due to the interest my daughter and son have in natural foods.

These various grains are from little known plants that were often a part of our distant ancestor’s diet. They include quinoa, amaranth, flaxseed and spelt. They’re as easy to make as rice and have a nutty, flavorful taste. More importantly, they’re packed with proteins, amino acids, thiamin, niacin, vitamins E, A and D and have both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.  You don’t have to use all of them, but a combination is nice.

Better yet, they’re easy to grow and most of them are gluten-free.

Amaranth grows like a weed. It’s a tall, leafy plant on a fibrous stalk and the seeds hang down from the crown like dreadlocks. I have them planted along fences and in the back yard next to the shed.

Quinoa is similar in appearance and both amaranth and quinoa come in a variety of colors from a light, golden color to a deep burgundy. The seeds dry on the vine although you may have to battle the birds as they mature and dry out. If you’d like to plant your own, just buy some at the store (most large grocery chains carry them in the organic, cereal or rice aisles) and sprinkle where you’d like them to grow. They grow like weeds and will spread from season to season.

Spelt is a grass and its seeds look much like rye at the end of a stalk. Flaxseed is actually a flowering plant and the seeds are harvested from the seed buds within the flower tops similar to buckwheat. They’re a little harder to harvest than quinoa or amaranth, but they grow just as easily and spread just as fast so be careful where you plant them.

Whether you buy your ancient grains or grow them yourself, they will keep well in a sealed container for months if you keep them dry and store them in a cool, dark place like a cabinet or pantry.

Cooking them is as easy as cooking rice with the standard proportion of one cup of seeds to 2 cups of water brought to a boil and simmered for 10 to 15 minutes. I usually leave the pot covered for 5 more minutes off the heat to finish it.

Recipes abound from breakfast to lunch to dinner. There’s one recipe I developed that incorporates all 4 grains into a salad that is loaded with nutritional benefits.

Over a period of time, I’ve assembled various lists of superfoods. They include things like broccoli, asparagus, spinach, kale, tomatoes, garlic, onions, carrots and other vegetables that have unique benefits from beta-carotene to lycopene in addition to a boat-load of vitamins across the alphabet.

I’ve also compiled lists of healthy nuts from pecans to almonds that offer tremendous mineral benefits and other complex proteins in addition to healthy oils.

I was determined to see if I could make the “Super Salad.” A salad that would not only provide energy but the reassurance that I was getting maximum nutrition and benefits. I think I found it. You can add or subtract to this list of ingredients but try to state true to the concept of most of them. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Steve’s Ancient Super Salad

Yield: 12 lunch-size servings.


4 cups water

1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed

1/4 cup amaranth, rinsed

1/4 cup spelt, rinsed

1/4 cup flaxseed, rinsed

1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach, torn

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup broccoli crowns blanched and chopped

1 cup asparagus blanched and chopped

1 tomato diced

1/2 cup carrots shredded or chopped

1/2 cup black beans (optional)

Pecans and walnuts to your taste as a topping


6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

2 garlic cloves, minced or sliced

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons of onions, finely chopped


In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa, amaranth, spelt and flaxseed. Reduce heat; cover and simmer on lowest heat for 12-15 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let sit 5 to 10 more minutes until all water is absorbed.

While the grains are cooling, blanch the vegetables with a quick drop in boiling water and shock in ice water.  Let them all drain in the sink in a colander.

In a bowl, whisk the oil, orange juice, vinegar, honey, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in onion.

Assemble the salad with the greens first on the plate and top with other vegetables and then top with the grains.  Sprinkle cranberries and chopped tomato over the top and surround with dressing and the nut topping.

Eat this every day and… live long and prosper.



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