Healthy foods are not a new discovery. Foods dating back hundreds of years are some of today’s healthiest options. Ancient grains are one such health food. As nutrient dense carbohydrates, ancient grains can compliment a meal with hearty, delicious flavors while providing beneficial nutrients.

What are Ancient Grains?

Grains have always been a crucial part of the human diet. In the past few decades, grains have become more refined and consequently, less nutritious. These refined grains are added to many of the packaged foods available today. The processing many “refined” grains undergo removes important parts of the grain and beneficial nutrients including: 

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • B vitamins
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Linoleic acid
  • Magnesium
  • Phytochemicals

Luckily, refined grains are not the only option available when seeking grains. The food industry has experienced a recent resurgence in a category of grains known as “ancient grains”. The Whole Wheat Council defines ancient grains as “grains that are largely unchanged over the last several years”. These grains undergo less refining and consequently are more nutrient dense. Ancient grains are typically higher in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Some of the most common ancient grains include quinoa, barley, and bulgar.


One of the most popular ancient grains is quinoa. It is a small bead-like grain, rich in protein. Quinoa is dense in protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Additionally, quinoa is a source of manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and folate. These nutrients are essential for growth, development, cellular function, a healthy metabolism, and bone health. 

In the Kitchen: Quinoa cooks similarly to rice and can be used as a side dish, sprinkled on a salad, or even as an oatmeal substitute in the morning.


Barley is a hearty, nutrient dense grain rich in fiber, niacin, protein, magnesium, iron, and polyunsaturated fats. Best of all, one serving of barley provides 8 grams of fiber, which is almost a third of the daily recommendation. The protein, fat, and fiber present in barley makes this grain a filling carbohydrate ideal for weight management. 

In the Kitchen: Barley is a satisfying grain especially in cold winter months. It’s a perfect grain to add to soups, stews, or casseroles. 


This whole grain is a healthy carbohydrate that can provide energy for a workout or long work day. One cup of bulgur contains 8 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein, both of which promote fullness and weight management. Bulgur is also a good source of many micronutrients such as iron, magnesium, and vitamin B-6.

In the Kitchen: Bulgur is delicious in grain salads, soups, or as a hearty rice substitute. Bulgur is a quick cooking grain and can act as a quick and easy side dish. 

Simply Good Jars + Ancient Grains

Ancient grains like quinoa, barley, and bulgur can be found throughout many Simply Good Jars like the Chicken Quinoa and Simply Greek. These jars combine hearty grains with rich protein sources to keep you full all day long.

Ancient Grains

When reaching for a carbohydrate source or starchy side, ancient grains are the best option. These grains are rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats to promote fullness and energy. Grains like quinoa, barley, and bulgar can be found throughout Simply Good Jars for a nourishing meal. 

By Elise Deming, MS, RDN, LDN