You’ve probably heard the buzz about it, come across it during your trip to your nearest whole foods market, or seen it slowly, steadily replace that once-bestselling quinoa grain bowl. But what is Adlai, anyway? And what makes it the latest cult-favorite superfood? Truth be told, there is much to love this up-and-coming powerhouse grain, and we’ve narrowed it down to five, simple reasons:

Adlai is gluten-free

Adlai (coix lacryma-jobi L.) is just like rice—but not quite. Also known as “Job’s Tears,” this tall, tropical plant bears tear-shaped grains that are only slightly larger than those of rice and corn.

But unlike rice, white bread, corn, and potatoes, Adlai is completely gluten-free and has a low glycemic index—making it heart-healthy and completely safe for those who are watching their blood sugar.

Adlai is locally sourced

A quick history lesson: Adlai has been cultivated in Asia for centuries. In East Asian culture, it’s commonly called “Chinese pearl barley,” and has been used in Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for its potent anti-inflammatory benefits.

In the Philippines, Adlai grows in the regions of Northern Mindanao, the Cordilleras (more commonly in Sagada and the Mountain Province), and Zamboanga. In fact, the Subanen tribe of Zamboanga del Sur traditionally produce Adlai, as the plant easily thrives in highlands. According to the Bureau of Agricultural Research, the grain is also used as an ingredient for “pangasi” (native rice wine).

Adlai is packed with nutrients

So what really makes Adlai the latest superfood? The answer is really in its nutritive value. The dynamo grain is high in dietary fiber, packed with protein, and filled with minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin.

Adlai is the perfect energy boost

Studies show that a 100-g serving of cooked Adlai provides 356kcal, whereas white rice only provides 110kcal. Whether you spend the whole day at the office or at the football field, Adlai certainly is the perfect companion for anybody who leads a busy or active lifestyle. It leaves you full longer, and leaves out that sluggish, super full feeling we often get after eating a lot of pasta or rice.

Adlai is versatile and can be paired with almost any meal!

From soups, salads, and grain bowls—Adlai’s neutral (sometimes nutty) taste makes it perfect to pair with any meal. It has also the consistency of al dente pasta, so you can also top rich, delicious sauces over it. For those who love Filipino desserts, Adlai can also be cooked into maja blanca, champorado, polvoron, and turones de adlai. Finally, you can enjoy homemade, guiltless, and absolutely healthy kakanin!  Yum!

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