Hard wheat kernels are often called wheat berries and are normally grown in western Canada. A wheat kernel is made up of three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm which is the starchy middle part and contains most of the carbohydrates and a high protein content ranging from 12% to 14%.
For stovetop cooking, bring 2 ½ cups (625 ml) of water to a boil for every 1 cup (250 ml) of raw wheat berries. Before adding wheat berries to boiling water, place them in a colander and rinse under running water until the water runs clear. Add wheat berries to boiling water, and stir until water returns to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until wheat berries are tender. Remove from heat, drain off any excess water and fluff wheat berries with a fork. 1 cup of raw wheat berries will yield 2 ½ cups cooked wheat berries.
Wheat berries can also be added to soups and stews during cooking. Allow for at least 45 minutes of cooking time and add extra water since wheat berries absorb water and double in size once they're cooked.
Wheat berries have an exceptional nutrient profile. They're high in fibre, low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. A half-cup (125 ml) serving of cooked wheat berries is a great source of manganese, selenium, phosphorus and magnesium. Wheat berries also contain lignans, phytochemicals thought to guard against breast and prostate cancers. Studies continue to show that consuming whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Research has also shown that substituting whole grains for their refined counterparts can help with weight control.
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