Get hooked on whole grains

By: Jessie Price  |  Monday, April 20, 2009

I adore the nutty flavors and toothsome textures of whole grains. I always have. When I was a kid, my mom always served barley with her roast leg of lamb and it became my favorite side dish. Often we added mushrooms and topped it with gravy from the lamb. I’m hungry just thinking about it. Now, for a treat, I make EatingWell’s barley and mushroom risotto.
I’m lucky that I was trained from an early age to embrace whole grains, from barley to whole wheat. Now that I am an adult, I’m enjoying new whole grains, such as quinoa and farro, and using EatingWell’s Whole Grain Recipe Collection nearly every day. Why? Because whole grains are just plain healthier than refined grains. On average, Americans get about half of our calories from grains. We tend to opt for less-nutritious refined grains (their nutrient-rich bran and germ have been removed) and products that contain processed flours, despite research that shows whole grains are healthier. Studies show that whole grains protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. And if health concerns aren’t enough to convince you, focus on taste.
Get the recipe: Spring Chicken & Barley Soup
I love this Spring Chicken & Barley Soup right now because it’s got asparagus and peas, which are just coming into season. Those vegetables make it light, springy and just perfect for a late April meal. Plus it’s got my favorite grain. Barley’s a great choice if you’re new to whole grains, as it’s widely available, inexpensive and you’ve probably had it before (at the very least in canned soup). But there’s a whole wide world of whole grains out there just waiting for you to try. You may have to go to a health-food store or Whole Foods to find them, but they’re worth the extra effort. Some of my all-time favorite whole-grain recipes from EatingWell include Creamy Wheat Berry Hot Cereal, Toasted Quinoa Salad with Scallops & Snow Peas and Barley & Wild Rice Pilaf with Pomegranate Seeds.
Here’s that soup recipe to get you started. Enjoy.
Get the recipe: Spring Chicken & Barley Soup