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BLOG — Pull something new off the shelf at Tom’s

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Mostly because the photography was good and the pages were glossy, I recently bought a book on whole grains. The variety of foods the human body will tolerate as fuel is humbling, and it’s a good thing, because in the grains category alone, the options are astoundingly broad, and beautiful. Different grasses produce a spectrum of nutrition-packed gems, such as rose-hued red hominy, golden barley, blue cornmeal with a cool tone, black quinoa, ebony splinters of wild rice, and grains of jobs tears as ivory as cowry shells. And each grain can be processed in different ways to isolate various textures and nutrients, such as wheatberries, bulgur, cracked wheat, and whole wheat and white flour, which are all made from wheat.

It seems a shame, then, that in our day-to-day we tend to eat largely, and sometimes without exception, wheat — wheat for breakfast in cereal, toast, muffins and pancakes, wheat again for lunch in sandwich bread, crackers and croutons, and for dinner, it’s wheat again in the pasta, batters and even beer. And later on, shockingly, it shows up again in the most irresistible desserts.

While sometimes chained to our habits due to lack of options, Yellow Springers have the benefit of Tom’s Market, which does a great job responding to requests for new items to stock in the store. But if you don’t know what the new items are, it’s hard to buy them and figure out how to make them taste good for the family of picky eaters you need to serve dinner for in the next 45 minutes. So here is an introduction to kaniwa, one of the new whole grains that Tom’s recently started carrying.

As its name suggests, kaniwa is closely related to quinoa, which are both small, fast cooking whole grains that look a lot like couscous but are considered to be complete proteins because they contain all the essential amino acids the body needs to function. Quinoa and kaniwa are also easier to digest than wheat.

While I believe I have a sensitive palate, I fail to taste the subtle “nutty” flavor of either quinoa or kaniwa, which makes both hard to crave, but good for assimilating into whatever flavor I’m in the mood for. My latest bent is toward the Mediterranean, and while the kaniwa is new to me, a tasty standby tabouli is as familiar as an Ohio summer. And I found that because kaniwa cooks in about 20 minutes, it beats the traditional bulgur by about an hour.

Tabouli is best made with high quality extra virgin olive oil, and a lot of it…more than you would think you need. And don’t worry, it’s all good for you. Even a substantial quantity of olive oil has got to be better for you than the zero-calorie foods and soft drinks whose popularity, against all odds, persists. You also need to use more herbs (several cups of parsley, mint, cilantro, dill, basil — whatever you’ve got) and lemon juice than you think, and a good amount of salt and pepper. And even though it seems time consuming, you should finely chop the greens by hand. If you have to, use a food processor to chop, but be very careful not to pulverize because you’ll lose the texture and you’ll feel like you’re eating freshly mowed grass.


1 C kaniwa, dry
½ C freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ C ExtVir olive oil
1–2 C parsley, minced
1–2 C mint, minced
1/2 C cilantro, dill, basil, etc., minced
2 medium garlic cloves, pulverized with salt
1–2 large tomatoes, rough chopped (optional)
1 t salt
1 t pepper
½ C French feta, crumbled (optional)


Boil kaniwa, with a little salt if you like, covered, for about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and fluff. When cool mix with other ingredients to taste.



One Response to “BLOG — Pull something new off the shelf at Tom’s”

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