Due to budget constraints, dietary needs, and flavor preferences, grocery lists tend to be a little monotonous and dull.  Want to spice up your pantry and fridge without splurging on something exotic or venturing to a specialty store? Check out these uncommon ingredients that contain surprising health benefits, and could very well become your new best friends in the kitchen:

The word “spelt” doesn’t really seem like it would be the name of something healthy, for whatever reason my brain wants to link it to “Spam,” but trust me, it is.  Spelt is actually an ancient grain, and has been an important crop since before the middle ages. Spelt is in the wheat family, but it is more water soluble, which makes it easier to digest than many other types of wheat.  It is also higher in protein, complex and simple carbs, and B vitamins than most other types of wheat, making it an ideal grain for a healthy diet.  Because of spelt’s unique makeup, it is actually tolerable by some people with wheat and gluten intolerances, but even still, you should be careful about eating it if you have one of these illnesses.  Since it is still wheat, it isn’t gluten free, just easier to digest.

In addition to it’s health benefits, spelt is also a pretty tasty grain.  It is a little nutty and a little chewy, and stays nice and fluffy when you cook it.  Tastes delicious and doesn’t take on any weird textures?  Sounds perfect.  If you want to try spelt and incorporate this awesome little whole grain into your diet, check out these three great recipes:

1. Meyer Lemon Grain Salad with Asparagus, Almonds and Goat Cheese (via the Kitchn)

Meyer Lemon Grain Salad

If you are worried about a grain salad being bland and tasteless, you can probably dissolve those fears with this salad.  The base is made of both speck and pearl couscous, so you get a few different grain textures.  Served warm and seasoned with lemon and herbs, this salad would make a filling and healthy lunch.

2. Spelt Everything Crackers (via Smitten Kitchen)

Spelt Everything crackers

If you love munching on the crunchy and poppy seed/dried onion encrusted crackers that grace the breadbaskets of diners every where, these crackers may become your new favorite thing.  And because they are made with spelt flour, water and salt, you don’t have to feel quite as guilty about eating an entire batch.

3. Healthier Baked Cinnamon Spelt Donuts (via The Chic Life)

Baked Cinnamon Donuts

Since spelt’s main form is flour, it just wouldn’t be right to have a recipe list with something sweet. The writer of the recipe notes that this is a perfect beginner spelt user recipe, and your endeavors will be rewarded with a satisfyingly hearty donut.  And anything covered in cinnamon sugar has to be good.

For some more information about spelt, check out this link.

Will you start cooking with spelt?

Jaimie is a senior at Adelphi University studying Communications and Political Science. She enjoys exploring and adventures, and recently spent a semester abroad in Prague.