Getting Creative with Whole Grains

Getting Creative with Whole Grains

I love brown rice and whole grain pasta, but sometimes you want something different. If you’re looking to shake up your whole grain experience, give any of these a whirl.

Bulgur (pictured on left)
This Middle Eastern grain has a chewy texture and nutty flavor. It produced from wheat and has been pre-cooked and requires minimal cooking. It can be found as coarse, medium or fine grinds. Medium grinds are the most versatile and can be used for soup, salad, stew, and chili or anywhere you’d use rice.

Nutrition info (per cooked cup): 151 calories, 0 grams fat, 34 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 6 grams protein.

These whole wheat kernels have a chewy texture and nutty flavor. You may need to hit up your local health food store to find them as they’re not as widely available as some of the other whole grains. They take a bit longer to cook than other whole grains, about an hour. Add them to chili or soup or create a hot or cold “brown rice” type salad with them.

Nutrition info (per cooked cup): 302 calories, 2 grams fat, 58 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 12 grams protein

Spelt (pictured on right)
This grain has a nutty flavor similar to whole wheat. It can be found in health food stores as whole kernels or ground. The “berries” or kernels can be used in soups, stews, salads, and most recipes that call for brown rice. Spelt flour is typically used to make baked goods like bread, pancakes, muffins, and cookies.

Nutrition info (per cup cooked): 246 calories, 2 grams fat, 51 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 11 grams protein

This grain dates back to the Stone Age. Common varieties include hulled and Pearled. Hulled barley has the outer husk removed while Pearl barley has the outer bran removed and has been steamed and polished. Barley is commonly added to soups and stews to make them more hearty and nutritious.

Nutrition info (per cup cooked Pearl barley): 193 calories, 1 gram fat, 44 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 4 grams protein
Note: The hulled variety contains more protein and fiber.

Quinoa (pictured on right)
Although quinoa is technically categorized as a seed, it has similar qualities to a whole grain. They resemble mini UFO discs and are usually beige in color. Quinoa has a light nutty flavor and chewy texture. It can be used in place of rice in recipes or added to soups, stews, and salad. Quinoa contains a bitter residue called saponin on its surface. To remove, rinse before cooking.

Nutrition info (per cup cooked): 222 calories, 4 gram fat, 39 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 8 grams protein

For Beginners
Don’t be afraid. You cook all these grains just like rice. Just make sure to use the correct ratio of grains-to-water and cook it for the appropriate amount of time. Every package will contain this information, just follow the instructions. To add flavor, replace water with low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock or broth.

For the Adventurous
Go crazy and experiment but remember to stick with 3/4 to 1 cup of cooked grains per serving. This will help keep calories in check. Here are a few healthy recipes to try:


Let’s Discuss: What’s your favorite whole grain? Which do you want to try?

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