Sorghum – The Cinderella Grain

By John Fairchild

Sorghum is a cereal grass native to Africa, but widely cultivated throughout the world, including the United States. It’s high in protein, high in fiber, and a good source of iron and zinc. As more Americans adopt gluten-free diets, the stage is set for foods like quinoa, millet, amaranth and buckwheat to find a common place on tables and increasingly, for even this lesser-known grain, sorghum. While whole-grain sorghum has been slower to catch on than, say, quinoa, based on its relatively long cooking time, it’s easily accessible for those time-pressed home cooks armed with crock pots, rice cookers or steam cookers.

But being gluten-free isn’t sorghum’s only nutritional attribute. It’s also a whole grain that provides a host of nutritional benefits. Sorghum, which has an edible hull unlike some other grains, is commonly consumed with its outer layer, retaining the majority of its nutrients. Sorghum is cultivated from traditional hybrid seeds and does not contain traits gained through biotechnology, making it non-GMO.

Sorghum can be substituted for wheat flour in a variety of baked goods. Its neutral, slightly sweet, flavor and light color make it easily adaptable to many recipes. Sorghum adds texture to recipes and digests more slowly, having a lower glycemic index, so it is more satiating than some other flours or flour substitutes.

Here are a few ways to enjoy sorghum:

Cooked whole-grain or pearled sorghum: Whole-grain sorghum is a large, round grain, similar in appearance to couscous. It takes about fifty to sixty minutes to cook on your stovetop. The pearled version cooks faster, taking thirty-five minutes on the stovetop, and remains a good source of fiber. I usually batch cook sorghum once a month, and then freeze individual portions until I’m ready to add them to dishes. Look for brands such as Bob’s Red Mill and Hodgson Mill.

Popped sorghum: Whole-grain sorghum can be popped on your stovetop in a little bit of oil, just like popcorn, or even microwaved in a paper lunch bag. You can eat popped sorghum on its own, or add it to trail mixes or homemade granolas.

Sorghum flour: This is an essential in the gluten-free baker’s pantry, and it substitutes easily for gluten-free oat flour in recipes.

Nutritional facts per ¼ cup: 120 calories, 1 g fat, 0 sodium, 25g carbs, 3g fiber and 4g protein.

John Fairchild is Chef/Nutritionist at Nutriage, (267) 281-3370, Nutriagehealth.com, john@nutriagehealth.com.

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