Are you bored with using the same grains to prepare a meal? Or, are you looking for other healthy grains to cook? Here are 12 whole grains for alternative cooking for consideration. Whole grains with health benefits that you might be missing out on.
Portions of this information were first shown in Allrecipes magazine.
12 Whole Grains for Alternative Cooking
When you shop at health food stores, do you ever wonder what half the grains are in those bins and how to cook them? I sure do. When I found this article in the Allrecipes magazine on kinds of whole grains, I knew it was something worth studying and mentioning to you. I’ve done my best to eat healthy for some time now, and I love it when I come across information that helps me to continue on this healthy path of eating right (or better). How about you?
After reading the article, I condensed the information and gave out the strong points of each grain and what you can do with each (how to cook it, how to prepare, etc.).
Amaranth – Gluten-Free
A mild peppery flavor ate as a sweet or savory side dish and can even be popped like popcorn. High in protein AND a complete protein. TO COOK: Bring 2 cups liquid to a boil, add 1 cup dried amaranth, cover and simmer 15 to 20 mins. Yields 2-1/2 cups. Toss with herbs and olive oil or cook it to make oatmeal.
High in fiber – takes about an hour to cook – is chewing a bit starchy. Barley can easily be found on the grocery shelf. There’s two different kinds of barely – pearl and hulled. TO COOK: Cook either type in lots of water like you would be pasta. One cup will yield about 3 cups cooked.
Buckwheat – Gluten-Free
Despite the name, buckwheat is a gluten-free grain that’s related to rhubarb. It offers a deep nutty flavor. TO COOK: Bring 2 cups liquid to a boil, add 1 cup buckwheat, cover and simmer 20 mins until tender. Buckwheat works well with hearty veggies such as mushrooms, caramelized onions, and carrots.
Is considered a convenient grain b/c it requires practically no cooking. TO COOK: Soak 30 to 45 mins in enough boiling water to cover, and that’s it – ready to eat. The texture is similar to ground beef and can be added as a filler to your meat. Also great for stuffed tomatoes.
Available in different varieties – has a nutty flavor and a slight crunch to it. TO COOK: In lots of water, as you would pasta. Can take up to an hour to cook. Soak Farro overnight to cut cooking time. One cup yields 3 cups. Serve in place of rice, or as a stuffing for roast chicken or turkey.
Wheat that’s toasted to accentuate its nutty flavor. Available whole or cracked. TO COOK: Bring 2-1/2 cups liquid to a boil, add 1 cup freekeh, cover and simmer 40 mins for whole and 20-25 mins. For cracked. Yield about 3 cups. For an excellent side dish, toss with butter, herb, grated lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Millet – Gluten-Free
High in magnesium. Its flavor somewhat like corn with a slight grassy taste (like quinoa). – Easy to prepare – requires no pre-soaking – and cooks in about 30 mins. Total. TO COOK: Bring 2-1/2 cups liquid to a boil, add 1 cup, cover, simmer for 18 mins, then let stand for 10 mins. Yields about 4 cups. Millet can be used in stuffings, folded in cornbread mixtures or muffin mixes, or served in place of mashed potatoes.
More Whole Grains for Alternative Cooking
Quinoa – Gluten-Free
Valued for its high protein – earthy, herbal taste – not necessary to rinse quinoa before cooking. TO COOK: Bring 2 cups liquid to a boil, add 1 cup quinoa, cover and simmer 15-20 mins. Yield about 3 cups. For an easy salad, toss with sauteed cherry tomatoes, olive oil, basil leaves, and Parmesan cheese. Had quinoa to your side dishes – a great hidden gem that your kids will never know they are eating!
Long cooking time. Tangy flavor. TO COOK: soak overnight, drain, then cook in lots of boiling water for about on the hour until tender but still chewy. 1 Cup dried will yield 3 cups. Can be prepared for hot breakfast cereal – include toasted almonds and dried fruit. Add to a vegetarian meal.
Tangy in flavor – the texture is more liked rolled oats – TO COOK: Bring 3 cups liquid to a boil, add 1 cup rye flakes, cover and simmer 15 – 20 mins. Let stand covered for 2 mins. Serve like oatmeal. Make granola from them. Can be folded into cookie dough or added to bread or muffin recipe.
Mildly sweet and slightly buttery – somewhat chewy like barley, but not starchy. An overnight soak will save time in the cooking process. TO COOK: Cook as you would pasta for 45 mins. Eat it as a hot cereal, tossed in pesto-like pasta, or cold in a salad.
Teff – Gluten-Free
High in Calcium and Vitamin C – taste is both sweet and bitter (like chocolate). TO COOK: Bring 3 cups liquid to a boil, add 1 cup teff, cover, and simmer 20 mins until the liquid has absorbed. Yield 2-1/2 cups. Sweeten it up with maple syrup, stir it into a stew, or make it into a pilaf.
A few tips on Alternative Cooking
- You’ll most likely find most of these grains in health foods stores, such as Sprouts and Central Market and Whole Foods, but some are in grocery stores next to the dried beans and rice.
- Buying in bulk will save you money. Take out what you need and put the rest in the frig or freezer.
- Cook grains in a large, heavy pot to avoid scorching and run over
- Cooking time for grains starts when the liquid returns to a boil
- I don’t cook with salt, but in this case, salt brings out the flavor in these grains.
- Properly cooked grains will be chewy, not crunchy or pasty.
- Once cooked, fluff with a fork – if you stir they will come out more creamy.
Now that you’re more familiar with alternative cooking, try a few of these whole grains to give a variety to cook.
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