Great Vermont Grain Cook-off

I’ve been reading Thrive – The Vegan Nutrition Guide by Brendan Brazier the last few nights.  While I disagree with the author on the our overall food philosophy – he seems to believe food is only to fuel our body for activity – I do like all the information he shares about food and affecting recovery from exercise.  I have noticed that my eating of lately has varied quite a bit day-to-day – it seems like one day I’ll have a “great” food day and then the next I’ll be craving fatty or unhealthy food.

Last week, I was definitely off and had a few days when I got home from work and couldn’t muster the energy to even cook a meal.  Obviously, something was off in my diet.  So after consulting a few friends, I decided to record my food and drink intake for a few days; using to track it all.

After three or four days, I noticed a trend.  My breakfast was typically oatmeal with banana and soy or almond milk, then I had a morning snack of an apple, and then lunch was either a salad or veggie sandwich.  Then I didn’t eat again until I came home from work (around 5:30 or 6).  Which means typically my breakfast and morning snack were around 450 calories, my lunch went down to 250 / 300 calories, then I didn’t eat for 4 or 5 hours. Since I am still fairly active (even though I’m not marathon training), all the calorie calculators were suggesting I get around 2,000 calories a day.

Just to get this out there – I apologize if this discussion is disturbing to anyone.  I don’t count calories or usually even worry about what I eat. However, I do believe that if you are feeling less energetic or under the weather examining your eating habits can help detect and underlying problem, which might not be an illness but just not great nutrition.

Using an average day, I was getting less than 40% of my calories (and that was the same with fat and protein – actually those were closer to 35%) with most of the day gone.  I typically go to bed around 10 or 11 – which means that I had 4 hours to eat 60% of my daily fuel…. certainly this was less than adequate for me.

Hence – why I spent a good part of the last few days reading a few different nutrition books.  Thrive spoke to me the most out of the books I was reading. Brendan is a professional triathelete and understands how what you put into your body can help determine your energy and strength to engage in sports or exercise.

Brendan discusses the correct way to fuel before exercise (no matter the length) and then how to refuel your body post-workout.  I learned quite a bit – like despite popular thought, he suggests you should not eat protein right after a workout.  Protein directly after a workout prohibits your recovery – a protein rich meal should actually be about 1.5 to 2 hours after the workout.  Directly after a workout, Brendan suggests a simple carbohydrate.

I would love to hear if anyone else has the book. What did you think? I’m certainly not adapting to the 12 week meal plan but I’m going to try to keep his fueling thoughts in mind as I plan out my pre and post workout eats.

The book led to my idea this evening – trying out some new grains.  I realized one way I can increase my calories and nutrition at lunchtime is to add some grains to my salad or wrap.

The Contenders:

from left - millet, amaranth, buckwheat


Amaranth is high in calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C; and it’s composed of about 17% protein, as well as consists of 8 percent fatty acids.  Additionally, it has three times the fiber of wheat flour.


Buckwheat provides calcium, has high levels of vitamins B & E, and contains 8 amino acids – it is considered a good-quality source of protein.  Buckwheat is high in fiber. 1 cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains over 4 grams of dietary fiber.  It may surprise some people to learn that buckwheat is actually a fruit even though it is commonly thought to be a grain. Buckwheat is a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb.


Millet is highly nutritious, non-glutinous and like buckwheat and quinoa, is not an acid forming food so is soothing and easy to digest. In fact, it is considered to be one of the least allergenic and most digestible grains available.  The protein content in millet is very close to that of wheat; both provide about 11% protein by weight.Millets are rich in B vitamins, especially niacin, B6 and folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

I cooked them on the stove to their specifications (in Thrive)

  • Amaranth (a 1:3 ratio with water for 25 mins)
  • Buckwheat (a 1:3 ration with water for 20 mins)
  • Millet (a 1:3 ration with water for 35 minutes).

I also made some super simple but amazingly delicious marinara sauce (smitten’s kitchens recipe that Heather first introduced me too), steamed some broccoli, and sautéed collard greens with a little earth balance.

Grains post cooking - from bottom clockwise: buckwheat, amaranth, millet

The verdict: Buckwheat was by far my favorite. It was light and slightly nutty but wasn’t heavy or soggy.  Millet was okay – it’s definitely a good alternative to whole wheat rice, couscous or quinoa – might actually give my morning oats a run for their money some morning.

NOW I have no clue what amaranth was supposed to come out as but my turned into a gelatinous goo that was not appetizing to look at or eat.  DID I DO SOMETHING WRONG?  I am really disappointed because Thrive called for adding it to salads and other lighter meals.

It was great fun to try out these new items tonight – more trials might be on the way.

On the yoga front – I did a Dave Farmar 90 minute class from home.  It was hot and sweaty.  So delightful.

I’m out like Seacreast to watch Gossip Girl.


5 responses to “Great Vermont Grain Cook-off

  1. Glad you’re listening to your body and taking the time to figure out what it needs right now. I read Thrive a while back – don’t remember much about the eating plan, but there were some great recipes.

    I love millet, but I’ve never cooked amaranth. So, not sure what the final result should be. The photo of all 3 pots cooking at the same time made me smile – great idea to do a side-by-side taste test…especially when covered in the Smitten’s Kitchen marinara. I LOVE that sauce!

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your evening. 🙂

  2. The only time I’ve eaten amaranth was in Amaranth Date Nut Bread, the recipe on the back of the Arrowhead Mills Amaranth bag. It was very very tasty.

  3. Pingback: Eating a Full Lunch « Musings from Mendon Pond

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