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Cooking with whole grains

Are you getting your daily grain requirements? I’ve taken larger steps in getting my whole grain intake and ditching refined pastas and rice. Whole grains will help increase your levels of fiber, iron, manganese, vitamin E, B, folate and zinc. For more information on vitamins in whole grain foods, refer to the USDA website: http://www.mypyramid.gov/pyramid/grains_why_print.html

When scouring the rice/pasta section in a grocery store, be sure to look for the label “whole grain” and always defer to the ingredients list. Labels such as “all natural” or “whole wheat” do not guarantee it’s healthy. Most “whole wheat” bread and pastas I see are still made with enriched or bleached flour. I opt for Ronzoni’s Whole Grain pastas which are made with durum whole wheat flour and flax seed; it’s also very tasty.

Here are some whole grain food sources and recipes:



My favorite grain in the whole grain family! This gluten-free grain is high in fiber, protein, calcium, iron and many other minerals. This grain also contains the perfect balance of the 8 amino acids needed for tissue development. For this reason alone, it is considered the “ultimate grain”.  You can substitute out your veggies and beans for this grain and it would be just as healthy. The mild flavor of this grain can sometimes be nutty, but it will take-in any flavor you decide to season it with. Quinoa ranges in colors of ivory, pink, brown, reds and almost black depending on the variety.

My favorite Quinoa recipe – Black bean and veggie salad: http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/vegetarian-recipes/quinoa-black-bean-salad.php


Farro - Whole Grain

This grain is popular in Italian cooking and has a nutty flavor more mild than Quinoa. Farro is high in insoluble fiber and contains more protein and complex carbohydrates than wheat. The husk in which farro is grown protects it from pollutants and insects which in turn, cause farmers to avoid using pesticides!

My favorite Farro recipe – Asparagus and Farro Risotto: http://thekitchensinkrecipes.com/2008/04/28/spring-farro-risotto/



This grain took a little while to grow on me. Barley is an excellent source of fiber, selenium, tryptophan, copper and manganese. Barley has been attributed to helping lower cholesterol, protecting intestines, repair body tissue, etc. In the grocery store, you’ll want to purchase hulled Barley instead of pearl barley because it’s nutritional content is higher. For more benefits and stories behind how Barley impacts health, refer to this website:http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=127

My favorite Barley recipe – Barley Fruit Muffins: http://www.barleyfoods.org/recipes/barley_fruitmuffins.html



This grain is predominant in Mediterranean dishes such as falafel and tabbouleh. Bulgur is the earliest known grain in cooking and is found in specialty grocery stores. This grain is high in vitamin B, folate and contains more insoluble fiber than corn, oats and buckwheat. Bulgur wheat is good to substitute for meat in vegetarian dishes. You are likely to encounter bulgur wheat burgers in Whole Foods stores.

My favorite Bulgur wheat recipe – Dish of lentils, mushrooms, caramelized onions: http://www.culinate.com/books/collections/all_books/hip_kosher/bulgur_wheat_with_lentils_carmelized_onions_and_mushrooms