Though they may seem bland or boring, seeds and grains are packed with all kinds of good-for-you nutrients. And if you’re trying to lose weight, they can help you feel full without weighing you down with empty calories. Still, munching on plain brown rice and sunflower seeds doesn’t exactly sound appetizing. Bring a little excitement to your plate by trying one of these flavorful, “lesser known” grains and seeds.
Chia Seeds Popular for weight loss, chia seeds expand in your stomach, which can help you feel full faster—and help you stay feeling full longer. Plus, they are loaded with omega-3 and easier to digest than flaxseeds. They have also been shown to reduce blood pressure and help control blood sugar. Blend chia seeds into a smoothie or sprinkle it on your morning cereal or yogurt.
Freekeh Harvest wheat when it’s young and green, then roast it, and you’ve got freekeh, a grain that’s similar in flavor and texture to barley. It’s full of fiber (three times as much as brown rice!), which has been shown to lower heart disease risk, improve digestion, and aid in weight loss, and it offers protein and minerals, too. Use freekeh in place of rice or bulgur wheat in soups and stews.
Rye Berries Loaded with amino acids, vitamin E, eleven B vitamins, protein, iron and other trace minerals, rye berries make a satisfying morning meal when cooked like porridge or oatmeal. The grain reduces inflammation and can regulate appetite by maintaining insulin levels. Rye berries have a similar profile to wheat, but naturally contain less gluten. (It’s best to avoid rye berries altogether if you have a wheat allergy, wheat intolerance, or any type of gluten sensitivity.)
Sacha Seeds Also known as Inca peanuts, and often found in health food stores near the peanuts and almonds, sacha seeds are often mistaken for nuts. Eaten for centuries by the Inca and modern day Amazon dwellers, the seeds are loaded with fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have all been shown to satiate hunger when included in a balanced diet. Enjoy them by the handful, like peanuts or sunflower seeds!
Quinoa Who hasn’t tried quinoa yet? This gluten-free grain is fast becoming a staple, and it’s edging out brown rice in the “recommended by dietitians” department. Delicious for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, quinoa is loaded with fiber, iron, magnesium, and nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Three recipes to get your taste buds going: Coconut Quinoa Hazelnut Granola, Apple & Quinoa Kale Salad, and Quinoa Pancakes.
Have you tried any of these “lesser known” grains or seeds? What’s your favorite way to eat them? Share in the comments!