By Michelle Schoffro Cook
While many people steer clear of whole grains, they’d do well to give
them a second look. The average person eats refined grain products
like white flour and white rice and avoids whole grains like the plague.
Meanwhile low-carb dieters swear off whole grains in favor of high
protein options like meat and poultry under the false belief that all
grains are evil to the dieter (whole grains actually help stabilize
blood sugar-critical to the success of any weight loss regime). And
many other people simply avoid whole grains because they don’t know what
to do with them or how to prepare them.There are many delicious and
highly nutritious whole grains to choose from, so adding whole grains to
your diet needn’t be daunting. While there are many options, here are
seven whole grains to get you started: barley, brown rice, kamut
(pronounced “ka-moot”), quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”), spelt, oats, and
Used as far back as the Stone Age for currency, food, and medicine,
barley is a great addition to a healthy diet. Because barley contains
plentiful amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber, it helps aid
bowel regularity. It contains 96 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates,
and 3 grams of fiber per half-cup of cooked barley. Unrefined barley
contains abundant amounts of potassium. It also has lots of magnesium,
manganese, vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, zinc, copper, iron, calcium,
protein, sulfur, and phosphorus. This versatile ingredient can be added
to soups, stews, cereal, salads, pilaf, or ground into flour for baked
goods or desserts.
Brown rice is more nutritious and a much better option than white rice.
Unlike white rice it offers you vitamin E (important for healthy
immunity, skin, and many essential functions in your body) and is high
in fiber. White rice is stripped of its fiber and most nutrients too.
In its whole brown rice form, it contains high amounts of the minerals
manganese, magnesium, and selenium. It also contains tryptophan, which
helps with sleep. Brown rice can easily replace white rice in almost
any recipe: soups, stews, and pilafs. It is an excellent choice for
those who are gluten-sensitive or celiac.
Kamut and Spelt
Kamut and spelt are ancient grains that are part of the wheat family.
Sometimes people with wheat allergies can tolerate kamut or spelt. Both
of these tasty grains have higher nutritional value than whole wheat.
Both kamut and spelt are high in protein. Spelt is packed with the
minerals manganese, magnesium, and copper, and also contains high
amounts of the mood-regulating and energy-boosting B-vitamins niacin,
thiamine, and riboflavin. Choose kamut or spelt bread or pasta to
replace white options.
Oats are good for your body in many ways. They help stabilize blood
sugar and lower cholesterol, and are high in protein and fiber. Oats are
available in many forms including instant, steel-cut, rolled, bran,
groats, flakes, and flour. The best options are the less refined ones
like steel-cut, rolled, flakes, and bran. Oat flour is an excellent
substitute for wheat flour in baking recipes. A good source of minerals
like manganese, selenium, magnesium, and the sleep aid tryptophan, in
many studies oats also assist with lowering cholesterol and reducing the
risk of heart disease.
Quinoa, a staple of the ancient Incas who revered it as sacred, is not a
true grain, rather an herb. Unlike most grains quinoa is a complete
protein and is high in iron, magnesium, B-vitamins, and fiber. In
studies, quinoa is a proven aid for migraine sufferers and, like most
whole grains, lessens the risk for heart disease. It also contains the
building blocks for superoxide dismutase-an important antioxidant that
helps protect the energy centers of your cells from free radical damage.
Not a true grain, wild rice is actually a type of aquatic grass seed
native to the United States and Canada. It tends to be a bit pricier
than other grains, but its high content of protein and delicious nutty
flavor make wild rice worth every penny. It’s an excellent choice for
people with celiac disease or those who have gluten or wheat
sensitivities. Wild rice also has a lower caloric content than many
grains at 83 calories per half cup of cooked rice. And it is high in
fiber. Add wild rice to soups, stews, salads, and pilaf. It’s important
to note that wild rice is black. There are many blends of white and
wild rice, which primarily consist of refined white rice. Be sure to use
only real wild rice, not the blends.
Despite the common myth that all grains are taboo, junk food addicts,
carb watchers, and whole grain novices can easily embrace these
nutritious foods. Once you start adding them to your diet you’ll find
that whole grains can help with weight-balancing efforts, keep you
feeling full, and add taste and variety to your meals.
COOKING GUIDE FOR WHOLE GRAINS
The following water amounts and cooking time are based on 1 cup of
grain. As for all whole grains, add water and grain in a pot and bring
to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to low heat to simmer for the amount of
cooking time specified.
Barley (pearled) 3 cups water, 15 minutes cooking time
Brown rice 2 cups water, 35 to 40 minutes cooking time
Oats (quick cooking) 2 to 3 cups water, 12 to 20 minutes cooking time
Oats (rolled) 2 to 3 cups water, 40 to 50 minutes cooking time
Quinoa 2 cups water, 15 minutes cooking time
Wild rice 3 cups water, 50 to 60 minutes cooking time
Kamut and spelt can be cooked as whole grains but are most commonly used
as whole grain flour in breads and other baked goods.