Going With The Grain

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Even though I am a fan of a Sunday roast dinner, our family’s go-to dinner is usually plant-based and features whole grains and legumes. A vegetarian diet can sound a bit dull but the addition of new grains – actually older strains like quinoa and farro, add interesting flavors and textures to our meals.

Grains aren’t like pasta, you can’t just throw them in a pot of boiling water. Grains need to be cooked in a liquid to make them edible but unlike pasta, which is cooked in large quantities of water, grains are cooked in just the amount of liquid necessary to soften and plump them. This also preserves the grains’ B vitamin content, which would be lost to any excess cooking liquid. Grains are also rich in both soluble fiber (the kind that lowers blood-cholesterol levels) and insoluble (the kind that helps to prevent constipation and help protect against some forms of cancer). Moreover, grains—especially whole grains—and grain products offer significant amounts of B vitamins (riboflavin, thiamin and niacin), vitamin E, iron, zinc, calcium, selenium and magnesium.

Cooking grains so they are not mushy, or hard and gritty, can be a challenge. When buying grain in bulk at places like Whole Foods you can spend a great deal of energy trying to figure out the correct amount of  liquid and proper cooking times. I found a great infographic below from Berkeley Wellness (a wonderful website from the University of California at Berkley) that you can keep handy in the kitchen for guiding you in cooking most grains. They make a morning cereal bowls interesting. turns a salad into a dinner and a lunch into an energy boost that lasts all afternoon. Let me know if this inspires you to try a new grain!

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