Image from  Awesome Ancient Grains and Seeds

Image from Awesome Ancient Grains and Seeds

Ancient grains and seeds are superfoods that have sustained civilisations. Many are easy to grow as backyard crops, writes expert gardener Dan Jason, and Michele Genest shows how to enjoy the harvest with her simple recipes. A beautiful way to save the world, as the first chapter reveals. Amaranth, for instance, known as love-lies-bleeding and prized for its unusual rope of flowers, can help prevent famines in drought-prone places.

Whole Wheat Chapatis with Toasted Flaxseeds

1½ cups wholewheat flour

½ tsp salt

1 tsp flaxseeds, toasted

½ cup water

2 tbsp melted butter or ghee

Whisk together four, salt and seeds in a medium bowl. Stir in water until thoroughly mixed and a rough dough is formed.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes. 

Preheat a cast iron frying pan over medium heat. Place one ball of dough into a lightly floured surface and pat down into a flat disc. Using a rolling pin, roll into a 5-inch round. Cook chapati for 30 seconds per side, then brush on both sides with melted butter or ghee. 

While each chapati cooks, begin rolling the next one (or you can roll them all at one and stack with paper towels between them until ready to cook). After they are cooked, stack chapatis on a plate with a tea cloth, covered with a second tea cloth to keep them warm and soft. 

As with pancakes, the last chapati will cook more quickly than the first. Turn heat to medium if the pan gets too hot. Serve warm chapatis at once.

Sikil P’ak

1½ cups hulled raw pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp olive oil

2 plum tomatoes, cored, halved

1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and halved (not seeded)

¼ white onion, separated into segments

2 cloves garlic, unpeeled

¼ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup chopped chives

Juice of 1 lime

1 tsp kosher salt

1-2 tbsp water if needed

Dry roast the pumpkin seeds in a cast iron frying pan over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and have begun to pop. Pour into a bowl to cool.

Pour oil into the same frying pan and turn heat up slightly. Place the tomatoes and jalapeno in the centre of the pan, cut side down. Scatter the onion around the periphery. Place the garlic at the edge where it will brown but not burn.

Turn garlic frequently and remove once it has browned on all sides. Cool at room temperature, peel and set aside. Blacken the edges of the tomatoes and jalapeno by leaving them for 5 minutes before turning. Press down on the onion segments to blacken them as well. Once vegetables are a good colour, about 7 to 9 minutes, turn the heat down to medium low and soften them for about 3 minutes.

Cool vegetables to room temperature. Combine seeds and vegetables in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a coarse paste. 

Add cilantro, chives, lime juice and salt and pulse until combined. If the mixture is too stiff or crumbly, add water, 1 tbsp at a time. (Note that this dip doesn’t become a smooth purée like hummus – the graininess is part of its charm). Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve with tortilla chips, grilled vegetables or homemade crackers. Store covered in the fridge for up to a week.


Whole Wheat, Amaranth and Blueberry Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp salt

2 large eggs (or substitute flax eggs*)

½ cup organic cane sugar

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup melted coconut oil at room temperature

½ cup cooked amaranth**

1 cup wild blueberries

½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 375° F and lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin or line with parchment liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until frothy and light in colour. Whisk in sugar, followed by other wet ingredients and amaranth, whisking vigorously to break up any clumps of grain.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until mixed, then fold in blueberries and pecans. Spoon into muffin tin. Bake for 25 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove muffins by carefully running a knife around each one. Eat warm or at room temperature. 

* For each flax egg, whisk 1 tbsp milled flaxseeds with 2½  tbsp water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before using. 

** Simmer for 12 minutes with an equal volume of water.

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