Find your recipes and restaurants here

8 Great alternative grains you need to add to your list of pantry staples

It’s out with the plain (rice) and in with the grains.

by: Barbara Mugo | 20 Jun 2019
Grains in jars

Grains date back to ancient civilisations like the Aztec and Inca and contain many nutrients and proteins. That means substituting rice for these grains will give you more vitamins and minerals without a huge diet change.

Wondering which ones to start with? These are our eight favourites.

Grains growing in the fields.


Amaranth is one of the most ancient grains known to man and it works well in pancake or waffle batters. Amaranth is naturally gluten-free and rich in protein, fibre, micronutrients and antioxidants.


Barley can be used as a substitute in one-pot rice dishes or even risottos. Barley has a much higher ratio of fibre compared to everyday white rice.

TRY: Pesto chicken with barley and herb salad

Barley grain


Buckwheat has a sweet yet robust taste, making it great for baking, especially for cookies and bread. It’s known to reduce inflammation in the body and allows you to stay fuller for longer.

TRY: Buckwheat, berry and coconut granola

Buckwheat grain


Bulgur is a whole-wheat durum grain that’s often overlooked, but is actually very low in fat. Bulgur is known to strengthen your bones, since it’s high in bone-boosting phosphorus, manganese and iron. Dishes like Spanish rice and pilau are perfectly accompanied by some bulgur, as is any curry.

TRY: Bulgur salad


Farro comes from the wheat family and was eaten by the ancient Incas. The grain has many health benefits – in particular, it boosts the immune system. Farro has twice the amount of fibre in comparison to quinoa, keeping you fuller for longer.

TRY: Bean, pancetta and farro soup

Bread made with wheat.


Kamut, also known as Khorasan wheat, actually contains 30% more protein than normal wheat. Kamut is another immune-booster, containing high levels of zinc. The zinc levels aid white blood cells, maintaining thyroid health. The grain has a nutty flavour and is rich in flavour.


Though not new to the market, quinoa is still just as beneficial as when it rose to prominence a few years ago. Considered to be a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids, quinoa makes for an especially great grain if you’re on a plant-based diet. Quinoa can be popped, used in energy balls and bars, or enjoyed with roasted vegetables.

TRY: Quinoa and spinach falafel

Assorted quinoa


This grain is used in many African communities. It’s been known to increase the absorption of iron in the body due to the occurrence of copper in the grain. Sorghum is actually a great substitute for popcorn – you can pop it in exactly the same way, but you’ll end up with much smaller and cuter kernels!

TRY: Sorghum summer salad


Spelt is considered to be both a grain and cereal and is as one of the most ancient crops. Spelt is a great source of niacin, meaning it can help to lower cholesterol. Use it in your baked goods, like muffins and pancakes.

TRY: Apple galettes with spelt crusts and tahini butterscotch sauce

Slept grain

Also read

Get your grains and seeds in with these great wholesome recipes

Not only are grains and seeds jam packed with nutritional benefits but they're pretty damn tasty when you know how to incorporate them into your meals. by: Robyn Brittow | 25 Jul 2018 (image: iStock) Breakfast: Beginning your day with a wholesome breakfast that contains fibre is a great way to start your day and awaken your digestive system.

Read more on: ingredients  |  guide  |  grains

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.