Sorghum Is the Super Grain You'll Want to Add to All Your Summer Salads
If you're looking to add more whole grains to your diet, let us introduce you to sorghum. It may sound new to you, but it's an ancient grain that packs a mighty nutritional punch. With all the grains out there to choose from, sorghum's perks may get lost in the whole-grain shuffle, so we're shining a light on this nutrient-dense grain.
Sorghum Is a Super Crop
Sorghum is considered a superfood and happens to be one of the biggest crops grown in the United States, with many uses that extend well beyond the culinary world. For farmers, it's great because it's a drought-resistant grain—it's native to Africa so it's not surprising that it thrives in hot weather. It made its way to the United States in the early 1800s, and there's now a sorghum-growing belt that stretches from South Dakota to South Texas.
How It's Used
Sorghum is a gluten-free grain with a lot of uses. Not only is it used in cereals and flour, but it's also used in livestock feed, to produce ethanol and to make syrup, and the stalks can be used to make brooms. While there are many varieties of sorghum, grain sorghum and sweet sorghum are the two types primarily used in food preparations, from flours to syrups.
Sorghum grains are round and pale in color, just slightly smaller than a kernel of corn. There are a few ways to prepare and eat this ancient grain. You may find it in breakfast cereals or as sorghum flour in gluten-free bread and pasta. At home, you can cook sorghum like you would other grains and enjoy its nutty, toothsome texture in salads, side dishes, even granola. It can also be popped like popcorn and used as a garnish for salads and savory dishes. (Popped sorghum is a little bit smaller than popcorn. Check out 3 Whole Grains You Didn't Know You Could Pop here!)
Pictured recipe: Shrimp, Zucchini & Tomato Sorghum Salad
You may also run across sorghum syrup as an ingredient in many recipes or products—that's made with sweet sorghum. Producers use the stalks for syrup and process it with a method similar to how granulated sugar is made. It is similar to molasses but lighter in color with a slightly mellower flavor. It's sometimes served with biscuits, hot cereal and pancakes, but it can also be used in place of sugar for cookies and other baked goods. The sweet grain is also used to make whiskey as well as beer.
The number of nutrients in this little grain is stunning—it's no wonder it's considered a superfood. A serving of whole-grain sorghum (1/4 cup dry) delivers 10% of the Daily Value for iron, making it beneficial for people who follow a vegetarian lifestyle. It also offers a healthy dose of fiber, which aids in digestion and also may improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure and help regulate blood sugar levels. That 1/4 cup of dry sorghum also provides 19% of the DV for magnesium, which may also help keep your blood pressure in check (check out How to Get More Magnesium (and Why You Should Care).