Corn

This is one of the most common cereals in the world and its uses are innumerable. Its homeland is Mexico, and in the 15th and 16th century sailors brought it to Europe. Nowadays most maize plantations are located on both American continents.

Corn is a good source of iron, but poor in nutrients compared to other cereals. Yellow corn has carotene, which is a strong antioxidant.

In addition to the direct consumption of boiled corn, another very common form of this cereal is cornmeal. It contains about 95% of the nutrients of whole grain and is most commonly used for polenta. Polenta is an easy to prepare dish which is rich in carbohydrates and starch.

Wheat

The home of wheat is the Middle East, but nowadays the most common grain is grown everywhere. Following corn and rice, this is the most widely spread cereal in the world.

Wheat is a major source of vegetable protein in the human diet, since it contains more protein than corn, rice and other related cultures. Bread made from wheat flour is consumed by about 70% of the people around the world.

Wheat grains are an important source of vitamins and minerals, but also contain gluten, which is why products with wheat flour are not suitable for people with gluten intolerance.

Except in the form of bread, wheat is most often consumed in the form of pasta, biscuits, breakfast cereals, couscous, etc. Fermented wheat is used to brew beer and for the production of strong drinks and bio fuel.

Pearl wheat

The upper layer and germ are removed from this type of wheat. The processing is similar to milling of white rice and pearl barley. Peeled wheat is rich in proteins, vitamins and trace elements. It is more delicious and soft than whole grain wheat and is boiled faster.

You can use wheat to prepare different types of desserts or side dishes, among which are the traditional boiled wheat with sugar or the Armenian dessert ashure.

Bulgur

This product is obtained after grinding of pearl wheat. Although it is rich in carbohydrates, bulgur is a favorite food of people on a diet, because the high fiber content slows down the absorption of carbohydrates. In many recipes you can use it as a substitute for rice, since compared to it, bulgur has more fiber and protein, and higher levels of vitamins and minerals.

Bulgur is cooked like rice – soak it for 10-15 minutes and then it boils relatively quickly. Bulgur is most commonly used to prepare salads, stuffed vegetables or dishes like risotto and paella.

Semolina

Finely grinded soft wheat – semolina. This product is used mainly for dairy desserts and pastas.

Semolina contains gluten, but is easily digested by the body and is suitable for child porridge and diet recipes.

It is usually boil to thicken, but some recipes require raw semolina, which absorbs the liquid from the other ingredients (e.g. fruit cake).

 

Buckwheat

This gluten-free wheat alternative actually is not a cereal, but a plant of the Polygonaceae family. The seeds buckwheat resemble those of the cereals, but are much richer in proteins because of the high content of lysine.

Buckwheat is rich in vegetable fiber, which lowers cholesterol and regulates blood sugar, cleans the liver and is very useful for the intestines. Buckwheat grains contain all 9 essential amino acids, iron, calcium, zinc and antioxidants.

Raw buckwheat has pale green grains. It is prepared just like rice, and  it may replace it in all sorts of dishes, including stuffed vegetables. It is suitable for spicy dishes, prepared according to the risotto technology.

Buckwheat acquires even better taste if you bake it to golden brown in the oven.

Quinoa

Not surprisingly, 2013 was announced to be the “International year of quinoa” by UNESCO. This South American superfood has exceptional nutritional qualities, it may adapt to different agro-ecological conditions and is considered to be one of the main weapons in the fight against world hunger and malnutrition.

In our region quinoa was a foreign word in the culinary dictionary, but the rich nutritional qualities of quinoa moved it quickly to the top of modern recipes.

Although it is perceived as part of the cereals group, it is more similar to spinach and beets. The leaves of the plant can be used for salad, but most often you will find quinoa in the form of seeds or flour. It looks like couscous but it is much more beneficial. In the homeland of quinoa – South America, the plant is used not only for food, but also as a medicine to relieve pain and for wound healing. Even for the production of an alcoholic beverage similar to beer.

Quinoa has richer protein content than rice, millet and wheat. Just like buckwheat quinoa contains all eight amino acids, necessary to the body, as well as carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, iron, calcium and magnesium.

The nutritional qualities of quinoa make it close to milk and half a cup of quinoa provides the children with all the necessary proteins for a day.