At the start of the year I wrote a Huffington Post blog about food trends. At the top of my list were ancient grains. They definitely have become the culinary star this year! Since I put so much focus on healthy eating, this trend has pleased me greatly. Some ancient grains I've been eating for many years, such as quinoa. But there are several rising stars new to most of us, such as amaranth and sorghum. I've been playing a lot with these ancient grains lately, both in cooking and in baking. I must not be the only one. I've noticed more ancient grain products popping up on supermarket shelves, and sales of some ancient grain products have tripled in the past year!
Despite the fact that the popularity for ancient grains continues to grow, many people are confused about ancient grains, what they are and why they are considered good for you. Here is what I've discovered. Aside from leaving us a bit tongue tied (words like quinoa and khorosan used to be so confusing), many believe that they bring us back to simpler and purer foods. What is certain is that many of these ancient grains are much richer in vitamins and nutrients, when compared to modern wheat. For example, amaranth is the only grain known to contain vitamin C. In addition, it's high in protein and fiber. After being used for years as animal fodder, sorghum is another ancient grain that is making a great comeback. Sorghum doesn't have an inedible hull like some grains, this means that it's commonly eaten with all its outer layers, thereby retaining the majority of its nutrients. Sorghum also is grown from traditional hybrid seeds and does not contain traits gained through biotechnology, making it non-transgenic (non-GMO). Some specialty sorghums are high in antioxidants, which are believed to help lower the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These ancient grains also happen to all be quite delicious. But you don't have to take my word for it. Here's my recipe for an ancient grain (gluten free) mixed berry crisp. It's the perfect recipe for those of you who also like to follow a sweet, skinny and healthy diet. It's also the perfect recipe to welcome in the cool days of fall.
Blackberry & Blueberry Ancient Grain Gluten Free Crisp
Makes 4 ramekins (4 ½" round 1" high ramekins)
Makes 6 ramekins (3 ½" round 2" high ramekins)
½ cup sorghum flour
¼ cup old fashioned oats
3 tablespoons amaranth flour
3 ½ tablespoons corn meal
¼ cup Truvia brown sugar Baking Blend (this is a Stevia based brown sugar blend. If you don't want to use Stevia simply replace this with 1/3 cup brown sugar)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ounces chilled butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries (8 ounces)
1 ½ cups fresh blackberries (7 ½ ounces)
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar (you can use the above Stevia based Baking Blend again here, if you wish)
½ vanilla bean
To prepare the topping, cut the butter into cubes arrange the butter in a single layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm to the touch, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the sorghum flour, oats, amaranth flour, cornmeal, brown sugar Baking Blend, lemon zest, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Add the vanilla extract and cut in the cold butter using a fork or pastry cutter until they are in small pebble-size pieces. (Alternatively, use a standing mixer with the paddle attachment at low speed to mix in the butter.) The topping is done when it is in small pieces, do not mix it into a solid piece of dough.
You can use the topping immediately or freeze the topping for up to 3 weeks before using.
About To prepare the crisp, preheat the oven to 375oF, with a rack in the center position.
To make the filling, put the brown sugar into a small bowl. Use a small paring knife, cut the vanilla bean in half and slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the sugar, rubbing it between your fingertips. Add the cornstarch and stir to combine. Toss the berries with the lemon juice in a bowl, then sprinkle the sugar mixture over them and toss to coat.
Divide the berries evenly among the ramekins and top each with about a half cup of topping. Bake the crisps for about 25 minutes, until the topping is golden and the berry juices bubble up. Remove from the oven and cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.