Sorghum: The Secret, Sacred Superfood

When I was a young mom, despite my training as a nutritionist, I became increasingly plagued by gastrointestinal disorders and endless fatigue.  After years of trial and error, it was finally determined that I had a severe, debilitating sensitivity to gluten - at a time when few people knew the word, much less the trouble it could cause.

Back then (over 2o years ago), avoiding gluten was an extraordinary challenge, but along the way, the need to avoid it put me on the path to discovering all sorts of wonderful, healthy gluten-free foods that satisfied without making me instantly sick. One of my favorites? Sorghum. I call it the secret, sacred superfood because it’s relatively unknown (or forgotten) in the US, and sacred because it became a life-saver I could add to so many family dinners.

Why else to do I love it sorghum so? Let me count the ways:

1) It’s a gluten free grain.

As a gluten-free, ancient grain, whole sorghum is a great, nutritious grain to include in soups, salads and stir-fries. It's the best substitute I’ve found for barley, with it’s similar texture plus a touch more chewiness – which is a plus in my book. When buying, look for sorghum that’s stamped with the Non-GMO project seal.

2) Sorghum is super easy to cook.
Another thing to love about sorghum is that it doesn’t need much tending to while it’s cooking. It’s ready in about 45 – 55 minutes, making it an especially easy side to make if you’re a busy parent. Just add sorghum and water to a pot, bring to a boil and simmer – and voila! You’re ready to go. Here are the step-by-step instructions from Bob’s Red Mill kitchen:

3) It’s a versatile grain.
If you’re a bread lover with gluten sensitivities, sorghum is one more nutritious option to add to the dinner time meal that will help fill the gap. You can use it like you would rice or pasta, add it to soups, as a side with beans or chopped vegetables.  You can also pop it and enjoy it as a snack.

4) Sorghum is kind to your body and planet.

In addition to adding texture and heartiness to meals, I like sorghum because a quarter cup of cooked sorghum delivers 5 grams of protein, some iron plus B vitamins and magnesium to keep energy high and blood pressure in check. Another plus is that it needs less water to grow than a number of comparable crops, and, in addition to the edible part of the plant, the stalks are can be used as a cover crop to protect soil from erosion – so there’s less waste all around.

For ideas on how to enjoy it, take a look at these delicious recipes – and happy, healthy eating to you!