Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grain This, Grain That~

Whole grains whenever possible.  Whole this, whole that.  But what are the wWhole Grainshole grains?  Which ones are gluten free???  Well, here are some answers.

In preparation for next week's recipe, Mediterranean Grain Summer Salad, I thought we would have a grain talk. There are so many out there. Whole grains help provide us with protein, fiber and many minerals such as selenium, magnesium and potassium, all of which are vital to digestive, muscular, cardiovascular and overall health.  Make an effort to have at least half of your daily grains be whole grains.  
A partial list of whole grains:
amaranth*            brown rice     buckwheat*     bulgur (cracked wheat)   corn*      
millet*                   oatmeal        popcorn           rolled oats                       quinoa*            sorghum*             spelt              triticale            whole rye                        wild rice*           whole grain barley          whole grain cornmeal       whole grain farro               
*Gluten Free Whole Grains!!!

Below are descriptions of some of the less common grains.
  • Amaranth is originally part of the Aztec culture. It is small, peppery in taste and about 14% protein. Make "popcorn" out of it by placing in a saucepan, cover and shake over medium heat with no oil necessary!!!
  • Whole grain farro is popular in Europe dating back to the Romans and is making its way into the US diet. It is the grain that makes semolina flour.
  • Millet is a staple in India, and found in bird food in the US. It is great in stews and as porridge.
  • Quinoa is a gift from the Incans. Rinse it before you cook it to shed the bitter saponin coating. It is a complete protein and at about 15% protein.
  • Sorghum is extremely versatile for ability to grow and food consumption from eating it like popcorn to porridge but is not high on the list of US consumption.
  • Triticale is a hybrid from durum wheat and rye created about 35 years ago. It is ideal for organic farming. Once again, big in Europe and looking for a home in the US.
  • Wild Rice isn't a rice at all but a grass seed. It has more protein than regular rice. 
To read more on grains, I recommend visiting Whole Grains Council website 

To make your grains a little nuttier and toasty, cook them for a few minutes in the pan before adding the water. Add the water when you hear them start to crackle. Most are cooked at 1 cup grain to 2 1/2 cups water ratio. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes or so. Read the labels for the specifics.


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