The Gluten-Free Guide to Whole Grains
Know Your Grains
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating six servings of grains each day, and that at least half of those be whole—at least 48 grams of whole grain daily. Most of us eat only about one daily serving, leaving plenty of room for improvement! Simply have a serving at breakfast, lunch, and either snack time or dinner. No worries if you're on a gluten-free diet. It's totally possible to eat grains sans wheat. Try these next-level options once you've mastered the basics.
TASTE: Strong grassy flavor; grains cook up like grits.
USE IT: Make porridge with grains; toast flour for savory 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.
TASTE: Tiny grains and fine flour with a slight molasses flavor.
USE IT: Make "polenta" with grains; try flour in Super-Fudgy Teff Brownies.
These rich treats are such a game-changer that you may never go back to traditional brownies again. Why would you, when they deliver exactly what you're looking for: dense texture, incredibly fudgy interior, amazing sugar crust on top. It’s that superfine teff flour that makes the magic happen; it becomes slightly gelatinous when cooked—which makes for a moist and fudgy brownie. These decadent sweets are 100% whole grain, no refined flour in sight. Did we mention that they’re gluten free, too?
TASTE: Grains are starchy; flour is coarse.
USE IT: Use flour in rustic cookies; try grains in Grilled Radicchio and Sorghum Pilaf.
The deep maroon hues come from radicchio and dried cranberries, whose bitter and sweet flavors add depth. When toasted, sorghum takes on a rich malty taste; just be prepared that it takes a long simmer to get it tender. Don’t be alarmed if, while toasting the grains on the front end, a few pop—just fish them out and continue with the recipe.
TASTE: Grains are sticky; flour has a strong, earthy taste.
USE IT: Toss grains in bold Thai Buckwheat Larb; try flour in waffles and cookies.
This dish is not for the faint of heart: It’s a flavor explosion—nothing subtle about it, with its chile fire and garlicky punch. It tastes surprisingly authentic, too, thanks to full-flavored buckwheat, which takes the place of much of the usual ground meat. Three chiles are definitely my style, but that makes for a rather incendiary dish; go for two or, sigh, even one if you just can’t take the heat. Larb is often served as a salad over a bed of cabbage, but I choose to go cabbage-cup style here. If the ribs of the cabbage leaves are particularly thick, shave them off with a paring knife to make the leaves more pliable.
5. Brown Rice
TASTE: Mildly nutty and chewy.
USE IT: Great for pilafs, casseroles, and salads; try in our Brown Rice Sushi with Smoked Salmon and Quick Pickled Carrot.
Sushi-making isn’t hard, but it sure does seem to impress. I like to make inside-out rolls, where the rice is on the outside. If you want to get really fancy, you can lay slivers of avocado on the outside of the rolls, and wrap in plastic wrap to shape. Chill that way for 30 minutes, and then slice into rolls. Serve with wasabi and lower-sodium soy sauce for dipping. (Note: Not all soy sauces are gluten-free. Make sure to check the label.)
TASTE: Grains and flour have a mild flavor.
USE IT: Puree grains for creamy soups or Millet Cream Tarator Dip; try flour in quick breads.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg cookbook introduced Executive Editor Ann Pittman to Turkish tarator dip. She was smitten with the creamy combo of walnuts, breadcrumbs, garlic, and olive oil. In place of bread, she uses Millet Cream, which works fantastically. Be sure to show this dip some respect by serving it with interesting crudités (she has a thing about boring crudités). Try any combo of multicolored radishes and baby carrots, baby cucumbers, blanched sugar snap peas, golden beet slices, and fennel strips.
TASTE: Both chewy (steel-cut) and creamy (old-fashioned).
USE IT: These grains go beyond breakfast; try Steel-Cut Oats Jambalaya.
The Creole classic gets a fun makeover with steel-cut oats, which are higher in protein and fiber than white rice. But we wouldn't dare change the heart of the recipe—the trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery. Be sure to use quick-cooking steel-cut oats for the best results.
8. Corn (Including Popcorn!)
TASTE: Sweet and crunchy.
USE IT: Ground corn products make for easy side dishes like polenta; fresh corn is tossed into salads, soups, and quiches.
This recipe provides a double hit of whole-grain corn with fresh kernels and whole-grain cornmeal. The crust is super easy—no rolling required: Simply pulse the ingredients in a food processor until crumbly, and pat into the pie plate.
TASTE: Fluffy grains with earthy flavor.
USE IT: This all-purpose grain is good in pilafs, salads, casseroles, and soups.
Like most whole grains, quinoa is surprisingly filling, but if you need more for breakfast, serve with an egg on the side.
10. Wild Rice
TASTE: Earthy-reedy flavor and firm texture.
USE IT: Great for pilafs, casseroles, and soups like Chicken, Wild Rice and Corn Chowder.
Chowder is downright addictive, and for good reason. Thick, creamy, and milk rich, it’s the perfect antidote to a cold winter night. This one plays up wild rice’s slightly crunchy resistance with crunchy-sweet corn. If you have cooked wild rice on hand (or have some stashed in your freezer), this hearty soup comes together in less than 30 minutes.