10 Whole Grains You Should Know About
How to Buy and Store Grains
In the past, health or natural foods stores were often the only places to find the more exotic whole grains, but now you can find many of them at the supermarket. Arrowhead Mills and Bob’s Red Mill are two commonly available brands. Grains—especially whole ones—have oils that eventually turn rancid. Shop at stores where the turnover seems high, and buy only what you plan to use within a few months. If you have space, it’s best to refrigerate grains, but you still can’t keep them forever. You can tell if they’ve lost their freshness by their smell—old grains, including flours, will have a stale odor.
Amaranth [AM-ah-ranth] was a principle food of the Aztecs. It has a slightly peppery, molasses-like flavor with a faint nuttiness. The grains (or seeds) are tiny, shiny, and can be yellow and black. They’re so small that they seem almost lost when served alone as a side dish. Instead, toast the seeds like you would popcorn and enjoy as a crunchy snack or as a topper for salads. Cooked amaranth takes on a slightly gummy texture like okra and is good as a thickener in soups. Try amaranth flour, along with wheat berries, in Wheat Berry Bread.
Everything Amaranth Crackers
The popular everything bagel topping makes delicious savory flavoring for these whole-grain bites. Toasting the amaranth flour removes some of its bitterness and strong grassy flavor, resulting in a nutty-tasting cracker with a light, crisp texture.
Barley is best known as an ingredient in beer and soup. Creamy and possessing a fairly neutral flavor when cooked, pearl barley is easy to serve in place of rice; because it’s so starchy, pearl barley can be treated just like Arborio rice for risotto. Whole barley, with its protective layer of bran intact, plumps nicely when cooked. Barley flour, when toasted, has a strong nutty flavor; try adding it to breads. A great source of fiber, 1/2 cup of pearl barley offers more than 12 grams.
Lamb, Barley, and Apricot Tagine
Choose ingredients wisely, understanding that some—delicate vegetables and many lean, boneless cuts of meat and poultry—are not meant to cook long in a slow cooker.
Whole-grain hulled barley works perfectly here, with a pleasantly chewy texture after eight hours. Pearled barley, however, would not fare so well, bloating to a mushy, unappealing texture. Also, strategize: Add last any delicate ingredients or ones that you want to make a textural impact. Herbs go in at the end here to stay pungent, as well as raisins, which retain some chew.
Bulgur is familiar to many of us through the Middle Eastern dishes tabbouleh and kibbeh. Bulgur is wheat that has been steamed whole, dried, then cracked. So bulgur is essentially precooked and quick to prepare. It comes in three grinds—fine (#1), medium (#2), and coarse (#3). Fine and medium bulgurs are used for tabbouleh, and the coarse is good in pilafs. Bulgur, especially fine bulgur, needs only to be soaked to become tender, but it can also be cooked pilaf-style. You can find bulgur at most natural foods stores.
See More: 6 Easy Bulgur Recipes
Hearty Bulgur Chili
The amount of chipotle we call for yields a medium level of spice; use more or less to suit your family's taste.
Grano [gra-NO] is probably unfamiliar to most Americans, since it’s a new product in the United States. Grano (Italian for “grain”) is essentially polished durum wheat (a variety of wheat used to make pasta), and most reminiscent of barley. It has a golden hue and an appealing chewiness when cooked. Because the bran has been removed, the starch is more accessible, which means you can cook grano as you would Arborio rice for risotto. Or you can simmer it without stirring, which leaves the grains intact. It provides a nice combination of texture and neutral flavor. Use grano in soups, stews, salads, and other dishes in which you might use a small pasta such as orzo. Grano has yet to appear on major supermarket shelves, but you may be able to find it at health-food stores or Italian markets.
Greek Yogurt Parfaits
In just one serving of these tasty parfaits, you get 14g of protein and almost 5g of fiber for just 228 calories. Be sure to soak the grano overnight, and look for yogurt that’s free of preservatives and added sugars.
Kamut and Spelt
Kamut [kah-MOOT] is a primitive high-protein variety of wheat and takes its name from the ancient Egyptian word for wheat. Kamut berries are about twice the size of, but similar in flavor and texture to, wheat berries. Substitute kamut for wheat berries, and buy kamut flour to use in place of or alongside wheat flour. Spelt is another primitive form of wheat similar to kamut. Both kamut and spelt contain a more digestible form of gluten than that found in wheat, so people who are normally intolerant are often able to eat these grains.
Whole-Grain Kamut and Cherry Salad
Juicy cherries and chewy whole grains are a match made in heaven. We also tried this salad with red grapes in place of cherries, and they were delicious, too. If you have a pressure cooker, put it to use for the Kamut; it'll cut the cook time down to 25 to 30 minutes.
Oats are most widely available in rolled form. Steel-cut oats are cracked whole grain oats; when cooked, they are chewy. You may also see Irish oatmeal, oat groats, and whole grain oats, all of which have varying cook times. A good source of fiber, 1/2 cup of steel-cut oats has 7.5 grams.
Berry-Banana Overnight Oats
Speed up your morning routine with a low-maintenance breakfast made the night before. Studies show frozen blueberries have considerably greater polyphenol concentrations than fresh, while most other nutrient levels are comparable between the two. Walnuts deliver a one-two punch of crunch and nutrition: They are a top nut for brain health thanks to the powerful combination of omega-3 fats, vitamin E, and antioxidants.
Quinoa [KEEN-wah] is a great alternative to rice because of its lightness, mild flavor, and pleasing crunch. A good source of protein and fiber, 1/2 cup of quinoa has 14 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. Try it for breakfast with maple syrup and milk, add it to pancake and muffin batter, or mix it with potatoes for croquettes. The tiny beige-colored seeds, about the size of pellets of couscous, cook in about 20 minutes. Give quinoa a good rinse before cooking; otherwise, the grains can be bitter.
Watch the Video: How to Make Quinoa
Lemon and Dill Quinoa Chicken Soup
Rye is most commonly seen as flour. Also available are whole rye berries, which are green and work nicely in salads. Rye berries are a lot like wheat berries, kamut berries, and other whole grains—chewy and neutral in flavor, they hold their shape when cooked. Like wheat berries, they can be added to breads. Rye is now often available rolled as well. Rolled rye cooks quickly and makes tasty breakfast cereals. Rye ferments easily, so it’s not surprising that it’s used to make whiskey.
Think of these tasty little tassies as your own personal pecan pie. They're both salty and sweet, with a hit of oaky bourbon. Whole-grain rye flour adds the perfect touch of sour to the shortbread-like crust, while toasted pecans do double duty in the crust and in the maple-splashed filling. As if that weren't enough to jingle your bell, we drizzle warm bittersweet chocolate over each bite to ensure maximum satisfaction.
Wheat is the world’s largest cereal grass crop, with its thousands of varieties. Wheat berries are simply whole grain wheat. They are big, chewy, and take about an hour to cook. Once cooked, they can go in salads, soups, and in mixed-grain dishes. They are also great kneaded into bread, providing welcome texture. Wheat bran, the exterior layer of the grain, is rich in fiber.
Browned Butter Whole-Wheat Muffins
Wheat bran and yogurt bump up the protein and fiber so you'll stay fueled. Mashed banana adds moisture and sweetness without noticeable banana flavor, while browned butter lends nutty depth.