This post is by blog team member, Kelly. To learn more about Kelly, check out our team page!
Grains get a bad rap in some circles these days, but not all grains are created equal. In Part One of my Real Whole Grains Cooking Guide I covered what constitutes a REAL whole grain and shared tips for cooking 8 Great Grains. Now if you’re looking for some easy and delicious ways to incorporate more of these healthy grains into your diet, today’s post is for you!
Most real whole grains are actually pretty versatile. You can eat them hot or cold, in a soup, on a salad, as a side dish, or as a base for all sorts of main dishes. Consequently, one of my favorite ways to eat real whole grains is by tossing them together with different combinations of greens or other veggies, some nuts or seeds, maybe a little cheese, and a simple homemade vinaigrette. I call these meals “greens & grains” and the concoctions to experiment with are endless. So today I’m sharing a little nutrition info, some nourishing and delicious “greens & grains” combinations as well as other ideas for enjoying these eight real whole grains.
Although technically a seed, amaranth is gluten-free, higher in protein than most other grains, and may help lower cholesterol.
- “Greens & Grains:” amaranth, edamame, carrot, green onions, sesame seeds, brown rice vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil
- Eat it as a porridge similar to oatmeal
- Add uncooked grains to your favorite vegetable soup recipe
Higher in fiber than most other grains and may help control blood sugar and blood pressure
- “Greens & Grains:” barley, broccoli, parsley, walnuts, pecorino romano cheese, white balsamic vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil
- Eat cooked barley with roasted root vegetables
- Use it to make beef (or vegetable) and barley soup
- “Greens & Grains:” brown rice, red bell pepper, cucumbers, pine nuts, feta cheese, white balsamic vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil
- Use it the same way you would use processed white rice … as a side dish or base for a meal
- Upgrade your eggs and toast to eggs and vegetables with brown rice
Gluten-free, high in magnesium, and may help control inflammation
- “Greens & Grains:” millet, dried berries/fruit, parsley, pistachios, ume plum vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil
- Mix the millet while it’s cooking to make millet “mashed potatoes”
- Use it in combination with other real whole grains to make a mixed grain pilaf
Gluten-free (look for GF label to avoid gluten contamination), high in soluble fiber, lower in carbs & higher in protein and fat than most other grains, and may help lower cholesterol
- “Greens & Grains:” make a savory oatmeal such as Mark Bittman’s Savory Oatmeal with Scallions and Soy Sauce
- Enjoy a more traditional oatmeal topped with berries and nuts and a drizzle of maple syrup
- Use in your favorite homemade granola
Gluten-free, a complete protein, and higher in potassium than most other grains
- “Greens & Grains:” quinoa, corn, black beans, cherry tomatoes, cumin, cilantro, lime juice, and extra-virgin olive oil
- Toss cooked quinoa with diced pears, walnuts and Maple Dijon Vinaigrette
- Use it to make a quinoa pizza crust
Rich in folate, fiber and B vitamins
- “Greens & Grains:” wheat berries, arugula, dried cherries, red onion, sunflower seeds, balsamic vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil
- Add cooked grains to your favorite chili recipe
- Try it in place of a bed of rice with your favorite stir fry recipe
Gluten-free, very high in antioxidants, and slightly higher in protein than most other grains
- “Greens & Grains:” wild rice, spinach, butternut squash, pomegranate, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil
- Make a wild rice, kale, and sweet potato casserole
- Use it as one ingredient stuffing for red or green bell peppers
Eating more real whole grains
I hope these ideas inspire you to try something new this week. Just swapping out some bread, pasta, or other processed grains in your diet with real, intact ones can provide amazing health benefits. And as I mentioned in Part One of this post, to make real whole grains just as convenient as their processed counterparts I highly recommend batch cooking.
Have any questions? Then just add a comment and ask away! And if real whole grains are already a regular part of your diet, please share some of your favorite ways to enjoy them in the comments section below! Remember, your suggestions can help all of us live healthier and happier lives!
Kelly Harjes is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and founder of Appetite for Healthy Change™. Her mission is to inspire others to look and feel their best, feed their families well, and help improve our food system.
Kitchen Tips and Resources from Bruce:
- Mason jars are great for storing bulk grains and so many other things in your kitchen. Also they’re available in so many different sizes that you can choose exactly what you need depending on how much of a particular grain you use. So check out the selection on Amazon, Target, or your local hardware store.
- A fine, mesh strainer is great kitchen accessory for so many tasks including washing your grains before cooking them.
- If you’re interested in trying out a rice cooker for cooking your grains, there are several models that might work depending on your preferences including this VitaClay 8-cup or this 20-cup Aroma model.