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How to cook 7 whole grains and 10 simple ways to jazz them up

By Penelope Wall, October 19, 2010 - 11:01am

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How to cook 7 whole grains and 10 simple ways to jazz them up

Every time I see a cereal commercial on TV touting the benefits of whole grains, I feel like someone’s wagging a finger at me. I know whole grains are good for me: they provide a healthy boost of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients and are also rich in carbohydrates, the body’s main fuel supply. In fact, the current USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults consume around six ounces of grains daily, and that we make half those grains whole.

Related: Experts’ 8 food “rules” you should follow

But as much as I consider myself a healthy eater, I have a hard time meeting those guidelines on a regular basis. Do you? (If not, congratulations! You’re one of the only 10 percent of us that get the recommended three 1-ounce whole-grain servings each day.) For some reason, I have this mental block for even where to begin getting more whole grains in my diet beyond cereal and whole-wheat bread. The annoying commercials merely serve as a reminder of what I’m not doing to stay healthy.

Related:
18 Grab-and-Go Whole-Grain Breakfasts
Easy Whole Grain Sides to Serve with Dinner
3 Ways to Choose The Healthiest Supermarket Bread

In our upcoming book, The Simple Art of EatingWell, author and EatingWell food editor Jessie Price demystifies whole grains with a handy cooking guide and nine easy flavor stir-ins, so I won’t have any excuse not to get enough. She gave me the inside scoop so I can get my grains on ASAP.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Eat More Popcorn

HOW TO COOK 7 WHOLE GRAINS:
Barley (Pearl): Bring 1 cup barley and 2 1/2 cups water or broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 35-50 minutes. Makes 3-3 1/2 cups. Per 1/2-cup serving: 97 calories; 22 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber.

Bulgur: Bring 1 cup bulgur and 1 1/2 cups water or broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 10-15 minutes. Makes 2 1/2-3 cups. Per 1/2-cup serving: 76 calories; 17 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber.

Couscous (Whole-wheat): Bring 1 3/4 cups water or broth to a boil; stir in 1 cup couscous. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Makes 3-3 1/2 cups. Per 1/2-cup serving: 70 calories; 15 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber.

Polenta (Cornmeal): Bring 4 1/3 cups cold water and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in 1 cup cornmeal until smooth. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until very thick and creamy, 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 4-4 1/3 cups. Per 1/2-cup serving: 55 calories; 12 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber.

Quinoa: Rinse 1 cup quinoa in several changes of cold water. Bring quinoa and 2 cups water or broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Makes 3 cups. Per 1/2-cup serving: 111 calories; 20 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber.

Rice, Brown: Bring 1 cup rice and 2 1/2 cups water or broth to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40-50 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Makes 3 cups. Per 1/2-cup serving: 109 calories; 23 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber.

Rice, Wild: Cook 1 cup rice in a large saucepan of at least 4 cups lightly salted boiling water until tender, 45-55 minutes. Drain. Makes 2-2 1/2 cups. Per 1/2-cup serving: 83 calories; 18 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber.

9 FLAVOR STIR-INS TO TRY:
Add any of these flavor combinations to grains after they’re cooked.

Apricot Nut: 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots, 1/4 cup chopped toasted nuts (walnuts, pecans or pistachios), 3 tablespoons orange juice, 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, and salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Lime-Cilantro: 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, 1/3 cup chopped scallions, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Mediterranean: 1 chopped medium tomato, 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives, 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence, and salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Mint & Feta: 3/4 cup sliced scallions, 1/4 cup each finely crumbled feta cheese and sliced fresh mint, and salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Parmesan & Balsamic: 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon butter, 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, and salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Parmesan-Dill: 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, and salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Peas & Lemon: 1 cup frozen peas; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest, and salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Spicy & Sweet Sesame-Soy: 3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, 2 teaspoons each sesame oil and finely chopped fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon each chile-garlic sauce and honey, and 1/4 cup chopped toasted cashews.

Spinach: 3 cups sliced baby spinach (or arugula); cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Season with salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Tomato-Tarragon: 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 3 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon (or parsley or thyme), and salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.


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TAGS: Penelope Wall, Food Blog, Dinner, Nutrition, Wellness

Penelope Wall
Penelope is a web producer and writer for EatingWell.com. When she's not busy geeking out at the computer, she loves cooking and trying new recipes on her friends. Some of her favorite foods are dark chocolate, coffee, apples, sweet potatoes and cheese.

Penelope asks: What’s your favorite whole grain?

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