Orange Hazelnut Farro Salad Wraps

Our farmer ancestors have grown farro since 7700BC in the fertile crescent.  The wild farro grain (also called emmer wheat) is an ancestor to our modern day wheat, now widely devoured in the form of white bread and pasta.  9700 years later, we are just beginning to learn how much our health is affected by the foods we eat.  The food we eat goes into our mouths & then disappears into our digestive systems to undergo various complex biological processes before actually becoming part of our bodies. 

The carbohydrate in foods such as fruits, grains and beans starts to break down in your mouth.  When you eat an apple for example, an enzyme called amylase is stimulated by the presense of carbohydrate in your mouth, starting to break the carbohydrate chains into smaller sugars or saccharides.  The process continues in your stomach, and by the time those apple sugars reach your intestines, they have been broken down into the most simple sugar – glucose.  The glucose then gets absorbed into the intestine and delivered to your blood.  It travels around in the blood superhighway until it floats close to a cell that is “hungry” – the cell has a little insulin flag on it that is like an open mouth, eating up glucose.  Once in your cell, the glucose is converted into energy for your muscles and brain.  Amazing!  Every nutrient we eat ends up somewhere in our bodies doing something very important like stimulating the electrical impulses that make our hearts beat (potassium), and helping our intestines to actually absorb other nutrients from our food (Vitamin D).

 Anybody still reading?  The point is, eating food is the single most important way that you affect your own health every day.  What does this have to do with the ancient farro grain?  This grain represents the way our ancestors used to eat: whole, unprocessed foods with all their nutrients still intact.  These foods have unique combinations of nutrients that work together to promote health.  Unlike processed white wheat, farro and other whole grains still have their outer bran & germ layers intact.  These layers are full of nutrients such as folate, vitamin E, potassium and fiber.  Also, they are darn tasty!

The farro grain is still grown mainly in Europe, but now we have our own LOCAL source of emmer farro (and other wonderful whole grains).  Brooke & Sam Lucy at Bluebird Grain Farms are growing these organic heirloom grains in the Methow Valley.  They supply some of Seattle’s most beloved restaurants with their lovely grains and freshly milled flours (Lark, Stumbling Goat…).  Look for them at a Seattle farmer’s market this spring – or check out their website for CSA and direct ordering options:

Then try this recipe, or one of the recipes on the Bluebird Grain Farms website – with emmer farro.  It has a nutty flavor and wonderful al dente texture that stands up well in a grain salad and leftovers will keep at least 5 days in the fridge (but you will have eaten them by then).

Orange Hazelnut Farro Salad Wraps (Vegan) – Makes 4 Cups

*Indicates ingredients that are grown or produced locally

For the Salad:

*2 Cups cooked farro (recipe follows)

1 Organic orange

*4 Tender chard leaves

*1/3 Cup dried pluots (from Tiny’s)

*1/3 Cup roasted hazelnuts (from Holmquist Orchards)

*1/4 Cup hazelnut oil

1/4 Teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 Tablespoon Agave nectar (available in natural foods section of your store, near the sugars)

Place the cooked farro in a large mixing bowl.  Zest the orange into the bowl – avoid the white pith, its bitter!  Chop or tear the chard into small strips (about 1/2 inch) and add to the bowl.  Roughly chop the pluots and hazelnuts and add to the bowl.  Into a jar with a tight fitting lid, squeeze the juice from the orange and add the hazelnut oil, salt, dijon and agave nectar.  Put on the lid and shake well to combine.  Pour 1/3 Cup dressing into the farro salad and stir to coat all the ingredients.  Save remaining dressing in the fridge to toss with salad greens.  Eat the farro salad as is, or use it to make a lunch-wrap to go:

For Each Wrap:

2 Mountain Bread wraps (thin bread wraps, available at PCC natural markets) – or 1 whole grain tortilla

2 Tablespoons Tofutti “Better than cream cheese” (or cream cheese for you non-vegans)

*2 Teaspoons Peach Chipoltle pepper jelly (from Woodrings)

1/2 Cup orange hazelnut farro salad

Spread the tofutti all over one side of 1 piece of mountain bread.  Place a second piece of bread over the tofutti & spread the jelly all over the second bread.  Spread the farro salad over the bottom 3/4 of the bread, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the bottom and sides of the bread.  Fold the bottom 1/2 inch of bread over the filling, then fold 1/2 inch of each side over the filling.  Keeping the sides tucked in, continue rolling the bread from the bottom up until completely rolled.  Store seam side down in a container or wrap tightly with waxed paper or foil until lunch.

To Cook the Farro:

*1 Cup emmer farro (from Bluebird Grain Farms)

3 Cups water

1/2 Teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Place the farro, water and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 50 minutes.  Drain excess water and eat hot with saucy entrees, or cool for grain salads.



Super Nutty Granola

February is Heart Health Month, so do something nice for your loves this month and make them some super nutty granola (Happy Valentines Birthday Poo-Pooh!)!  The oats, quinoa, seeds, nuts and fruits are full of fiber to help reduce cholesterol; and fruit (and vegetables) contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that help prevent heart disease.  Adding just 1 serving of fruits or vegetables (1/2 Cup) a day can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 4%!

In addition to being healthy, the coconut and citrus make the granola smell so great while baking that you will want to eat it even before its ready.  Coconut oil is available at your local grocery store in the natural foods section, near the olive oil.  It is saturated fat, so it is solid at room temperature.  However, it has a different structure than animal saturated fats, and so reacts differently in the body.  Coconut oil is preferentially used for energy, while animal fat tends to get stored in our bodies as adipose and contribute to high cholesterol and fatty plaques (atherosclerosis) – cool! 

This recipe is adapted from a recipe in Heidi Swanson’s book Super Natural Cooking.  She has a great foodblog that focuses on whole natural foods with great recipes, check it out:

Super Nutty Granola – Makes about 8 Cups

3 Cups old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 Cup quinoa, rinsed and drained (or use another 1/2 cup of rolled oats)

1/2 Cup raw sunflower seeds

1 Cup raw walnut halves

1 Cup raw almonds

1 Cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 Organic orange (washed)

1 Organic grapefruit (washed) (Or use another orange)

1/4 Cup virgin coconut oil

1/2 Cup honey

1 Cup dried fruit (I like goji berries and chopped candied ginger – also try dried peaches and cherries)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix the oats, quinoa, sunflower seeds, nuts and coconut.  Zest the orange and grapefruit into the bowl using a microplane or smallest holes on your grater and mix well.  Try to avoid getting the white stuff just below the bright orange/yellow zest – it is bitter.  (To avoid seasoning your food with waxes and pesticides, always choose organic fruit for zesting.)

Heat the coconut oil and honey over medium-low heat.  Set a small strainer over the pan and squeeze in the juice from the orange and grapefruit.  Compost any seeds or pulp collected in the strainer along with the citrus peels.  Once the coconut oil has melted, stir well to blend everything together.  Pour over the oat & nut mixture and stir until evenly coated.

Spread the granola evenly over 2 large rimmed baking sheets.  Bake for 40 minutes on two center racks, stirring the granola and rotating the pans (top to bottom) every 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the dried fruit of your choice and stir to combine.  Let the granola cool completely before storing in a sealed container.