What foods are rich in nutrients, phytonutrients, antioxidants, have a lower glycemic index, and may help protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity? Whole grains!
Whole grains include the whole kernel of the grain – be it wheat, rye, barley, rice, quinoa, rye and so on. Having trouble imagining this? Visualize a popcorn kernel which is a whole grain kernel of corn.
Each whole grain has 3 parts:
Image courtesy of Whole Grains Council
Whole grains can be further refined by having their bran and germ stripped, leaving only the endosperm. Think white flour. The refining process thus removes some key nutrition from the grain and is less desirable than the whole grain.
Whole grains are simple, minimally processed, and deserve a place on your plate.
If you are looking to include more whole grains in your diet, but feel uncertain around how to actually prepare whole grains, I have put together a Cooking with Whole Grains Cheat Sheet.
This cheat sheet outlines how much water to add to cook 1 cup of the whole grain, the approximate cooking time and the approximate yield after cooking, as well as whether the whole grain in question is gluten-free or not.
|To cook 1 cup of this grain||Add this much water or broth||Approximate cooking time||Approximate yield after cooking 1 cup raw||Gluten-free?|
|Amaranth||2 c||20-25 minutes||3.5 cups||Yes|
|Barley, hulled||3 c||45-60 minutes||3.5 cups||No|
|Buckwheat||2 c||20 minutes||4 cups||Yes|
|Cornmeal (polenta)||4 c||25-30 minutes||2.5 cups||Yes|
|Couscous (whole wheat)||2 cups||10 min (heat off)||3 cups||No|
|Millet, hulled||2.5 cups||25-35 minutes||4 cups||Yes|
|Quinoa||2 cups||12-15 minutes||3+ cups||Yes|
|Rice, brown||2.5 cups||25-45 minutes (varies by kind)||3-4 cups||Yes|
|Rye berries||4 cups||Soak overnight, cook 45-60 minutes||3 cups||No|
|Sorghum also called milo||4 cups||25-40 minutes||3 cups||Yes|
|Wild rice||3 cups||45-55 minutes||3.5 cups||Yes|
|Wheat includes the following varieties|
|Bulgur||2 cups||10-12 minutes||3 cups||No|
|Farro||3.5-4 cups||May or may not need soaking overnight; 15-25 minutes||3-4 cups||No|
|Spelt berries||4 cups||Soak overnight, then cook 45-60 minutes||3 cups||Np|
|Wheat berries||4 cups||Soak overnight, then cook 60+ minutes||3 cups||No|
You can prepare a big batch of whole grains and freeze into smaller portions for later use. You can add whole grains to soups, salads, stews, beverages and soups, casseroles, pilafs.
If you are looking for recipe inspiration, check out these recipes using whole grains:
For more whole grain recipes, have a look at the recipe collection from the Whole Grains Council.
Happy whole grain cooking!