Meatless Monday: Toasted Wheat Berry and Summer Herb Salad

Toasted Wheat Berry and Summer Herb Salad

Here on the East Coast, there is a small window where cucumber season meets tomato season. In those few weeks, us East Coasters rejoice in veggie heaven. The two were meant to mingle, table-side, with a fine bottle of olive oil and vinegar.

Together, the duo brings more than just the joys of Christmas colors to a white bowl. They also present a slew of vitamins and nutrients. In fact, tomatoes are one of the healthiest veggies (or fruit, by the technical definition) you can bring to your table, and we can attribute much of this to the noteworthy nutrient explained below.

  • Loaded in lycopene: Tomatoes can thank lycopene for their beautiful red color, and we can thank lycopene for the cancer-fighting benefits it brings to our body. Lycopene is an antioxidant that lends yellow, red, and orange vegetables/fruits their colors, and has shown in studies to lower the risk of certain types of cancer (especially prostate, lung, and stomach cancers). As Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, explains, “The shape of the lycopene molecule makes it very effective in being able to quench free radicals. We don’t really understand it entirely yet, but lycopene may have specific properties that protect the cell in a way other antioxidants may not.”

Tomatoes and cucumbers

Both tomatoes and cucumbers are also high in vitamins C, A and fiber, the latter of which this salad is packed with given the wheat berries it contains. What’s a wheat berry? As our food blogger Grace, who brings us this recipe over at FoodFitnessFreshAir, would say:

“Remember that time back in 5th grade, when you entered that gum-chewing marathon, and you tried to fit a whole roll of Bubble Tape in your mouth? And remember how your jaw felt afterwards? Essentially, a wheat berry is a grain that’ll bring that same sensation, likely after one large bowl or 20 minutes of chewing.

It’s a jaw workout-and-a-half.  But one that’s oh so worth it, with the right flavors piled in, and in the summertime, that’s easy.”

In more technical terms, a wheat berry is a whole wheat kernel, like those used to make bread, but before being processed and milled into flour. Wheat berries contain the full bran, germ, and endosperm of the plant, which boosts the chewy grain with fiber and protein. As Grace would say, “This is a salad worth chewing on.”  Given its punch of flavor and health, we full-heartedly agree. Head on over to her blog for the recipe!

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