Cooking Whole Wheat Berries

Also known as a wheat kernel or wheat grain, the whole wheat berry is slowly making a name for itself as one of the top dietary sources of valuable vitamins and minerals. It enjoys high ranking as a disease preventing food choice, protecting the body from several fatal ailments. A grain of wheat is made up of three separate parts; the endosperm, the germ, and the bran. When wheat is refined to make flour, the germ and bran layers are both removed leaving only the endosperm. The endosperm is rich in protein, carbohydrates and has a high starch content, but it does not contain the higher concentrations of important nutrients found in the germ and bran layers. The bran contains all of the fibre, while the germ contains the highest concentrations of vitamins E, and B complex.

Left unprocessed, wheat berries provide the body with much needed minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, manganese, phosphorous and selenium, as well as vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and B3. In addition, whole wheat also contains phytonutrients. These are plant derived nutrients that have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. Phytonutrients also act as powerful antioxidants which neutralize free radical damage to our cells, and promote healthy aging. With all of the health benefits associated with consuming the whole grain, the refining process doesn't seem to make much sense from a nutritional stand point. However, removing the germ and bran layers of the grain gives flour a longer shelf life and in the end, the flour companies are interested in increasing their bottom line. Processing wheat in this way ultimately helps them achieve this objective.

Unconcerned with the goals of the corporate sector, the health conscious consumer has an entirely different set of objectives in mind. Health and well being are at the top of this list. Whole grains are enjoying a higher profile these days as research continues to link their consumption to the prevention of numerous diseases. Aside from providing protection against both colon and breast cancers, whole grains also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

With all of this increased attention, whole wheat berries are slowly starting to turn up in larger chain grocery stores, finally breaking free of their long history of being available strictly through health food shops alone. If kept in an air tight container, and stored in a cool dark place, these power packed kernels will last indefinitely. Wheat kernels have been found in 5,000 year old Egyptian tombs, and when sprouted, still contained all of the same vitamins and minerals that would have present if they were placed there yesterday. That certainly tells us a thing or two about their ability to be stored for long periods of time!

Although their cooking time can take a couple of hours, wheat berries can be served and enjoyed in a number of ways. It is recommended that you soak them overnight to reduce preparation time, but this isn't mandatory. The length of time they are boiled will determine their texture. The standard method is 3 cups of water to every one cup of wheat berries. You can boil them in water, or try using a broth for a richer taste. Keep the lid on, and allow them to soak up the liquid as they cook. If you are looking for a crunchy texture similar to nuts, they should only take you an hour or so to prepare. Chewy wheat berries will require extra stove time as they grow softer the longer they are cooked.

There are a host of recipes to be found online that utilize wheat berries. They can replace rice as a side dish, be served with fresh or dried fruit as a warm and hearty breakfast cereal, or baked in the oven after boiling to produce a crisp and healthy snack. Nutritional guidelines recommend eating a minimum of 3 one-ounce servings of whole grains per day. There are a multitude of whole grain foods that available to help you meet this quota including whole wheat pasta and brown rice. Wheat berries deliciously provide yet another option for adding whole grain goodness to your diet.

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About The Author, Weblabs
Whole wheat berries are naturally full of vitamins and minerals, and are very nutritious to include in your diet. To learn more about cooking wheat berries and grinding your own wheat visit Dr. Grandmas. (http://www.doctorgrandmas.com)