Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A feast of farro is phenomenal

We tried something new at the recent Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon  at Green Hills Community – it's call farro. 
Kelli Fritz, CDM
Director of Dining
& Support Services

You’ve heard of common grains like barley, buckwheat and whole wheat, but farro?

Farro, also called emmer in some parts of the world, is a type of ancient wheat grain that has been eaten around the world for thousands of years.

The ancient whole wheat grain has a long and interesting history and for many years fed almost the entirety of the Mediterranean and Near East. Specifically, it fed the vast majority of Romans from 44 BC to the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 CE.

All classes of people,  from the wealthy to the poor, ate farro. The poor of the Roman Empire ground farro and included it as an ingredient in a type of polenta called "plus." 

As grains become more easily cultivated, farro lost its popularity until the French began using the grain in soups.

How does farro stack up against other grains? 

The USDA does not provide nutrition information for farro at this time but we can presume it has similar nutrients to other closely related ancient wheat species.

With that in mind, a half cup serving of uncooked farro has about:
150 calories 
34 grams of carbohydrates 
7-8 grams of fiber
7-8 grams of protein 
1 gram of sugar 
1 gram of fat
4 milligrams of niacin 
60 milligrams of magnesium
2 milligrams of iron
2 milligrams of zinc

Here are the six health benefits of eating farro
1. High in fiber: A very high level of fiber makes it heart-healthy, good for digestion and beneficial for
preventing blood sugar or insulin spikes and dips. Fiber is more than just a regulator. It is beneficial for preventing constipation, clearing the arteries of plaque buildup, curbing hunger pangs and supporting a healthy gut environment. Farro breaks down slowly, keeping your energy levels more stable compared to eating refined grains.

2. Improves immunity and heart health: Studies conducted by a national health organization show the more whole grains someone eats, the more protections that person seems to have against chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

3.  Good source of protein: Farro is considered an excellent source of plant base protein, providing just about the same amount as most legumes or beans and even more than many other whole grains.

4. High in B vitamins: Farro contains multiple B vitamins, especially Vitamin B3 Niacin, which is important for metabolic health and breaking down carbohydrates, fats and proteins from foods into energy.

5. Good source of antioxidants: Most people think of vegetables or fruits as being the only high antioxidant foods, but unprocessed grains also provide antioxidants, especially the type called lignans. Plant lignans are known to reduce inflammation.

6. Provides iron, magnesium and zinc: Farro is a good source of nutrients that some plant-based eaters or anyone with a mostly processed diet might be missing out on, including magnesium, zinc and iron. Iron is important for preventing anemia and helps to improve energy while zinc is crucial for brain function, helping with growth and development and facilitating with DNA and cellular functions. Magnesium is a crucial electrolyte that has numerous benefits, - preventing muscle cramps, helping you sleep better, fighting of headaches and helping with digestion.

Farro can be purchased at most grocery stores, including Kroger, Meijer and Aldi.

After reading this recipe, you might expect it to be quite earthy. You’d be right but there is so much more going on here. 

The first taste delivers the earthiness, but then you get sweetness and creaminess from the roasted onions and sweet potatoes that is topped off with the sweet crunch of the pomegranate seeds.

Farro dish served at Volunteer Luncheon
Serving Size: ½ cup 
Serves: 6 people

 1 cup of uncooked farro
 Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
 Salt
 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes – should be about 2 ¼ cups
 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
 1/3 cup shelled raw walnuts
 3 cups packed finely chopped Kale – make sure to remove the stems before cutting
 1 large garlic clove, minced
 Lemon juice
 Black pepper
 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

1. Combine farro with 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until grain is tender (about 20 minutes). Add one teaspoon of salt stir and allow to simmer for another 10 minutes. Drain excess water.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, toss onions & Garlic with enough oil to lightly coat, but do not soak. Spread across a baking sheet. Toss sweet potatoes with oil in similar fashion and spread on a separate baking sheet. Sprinkle with cumin, coriander and a pinch of salt. Place in oven and roast – onions will finish first.

3. Toast walnuts on the stove top in an non-stick pan while your vegetables are roasting.

4. Once everything is done cooking, blend your vegetables, walnuts with your rarro, add in the kale (uncooked) and fold ingredients together. Drizzle with a bit of the olive oil and lemon juice to taste, season with salt and pepper. Use the pomegranate seeds to top off the dish after it is put on a plate.


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