Glorious Grains Guide

Go grains! Grains are rich in complex carbohydrates, the primary fuel for our bodies. They are also a goldmine of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Whole grains are the first choice because they contain the most fiber and nutrients. Experts say eating at least three servings of this powerful food each day can reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Learn about the different grains and get nutrition information, easy cooking tips, best uses and delicious recipes in our Glorious Grains Guide.

 


  

Barley
Bran
Brown Rice
Buckwheat

Bulgur
Cornmeal
Hominy
Oats

Quinoa
Wheat and Cracked Wheat
Wheat Germ
Wild Rice
Barley


What to Look For
Polished Kernels, White for Pearled Barley

Barley can be used in a number of delicious and nutritious ways. Hulled barley, or barley groats, is the least processed form of barley and is used mainly for cereal. Pearled barley is polished so that it cooks faster, but it means that its not a whole grain. All the same, it is an excellent source of fiber and a good source of iron.

Easy Cooking
Cook for 35 to 40 minutes in 3 cups of boiling, salted water per cup of pearled barley. Hulled barley should be soaked overnight and then simmered for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, with 1 cup of barley per 5 cups of water.

Best Uses
Delicious in soups, side dishes and paired with vegetables. Make a double batch and toss the leftovers in a salad for an easy lunch.

Recipes
Barley Pilaf
Barley and Black-Eyed Pea Salad
Basic Barley
Barley, Mushroom and Winter Squash Risotto

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Bran


What to Look For
Outer covering of the wheat kernel.
Excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc , copper, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B-6.

Easy Cooking
Toast dry in a heavy skillet over low heat. Stir often.

Best Uses
Great for baking, or stirring into hot cereals, meatloaf, or tomato sauce as a source of fiber and nutrients.

Recipes
Current Bran Muffins
Basic Bran Muffins

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Brown Rice


What to Look For
Long-grain that is whole and unpolished; medium-grain that is a short, plump kernel; short-grain that is more dense

Whole-grain brown rice has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor. It is an excellent source of magnesium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, fiber, iron and vitamin B-6.

Easy Cooking
Bring 1 part rice and 2 1/2 parts salted liquid to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Soaking the rice overnight cuts the cooking time in half.

Best Uses
Delicious with curried vegetables or as a stuffing for pork chops. Makes an excellent pilaf, side dish, or salad. Like most whole grains, pairs well with assertive, concentrated flavors such as fresh herbs, spices, dried fruits, nuts and acidic vinaigrettes.

Recipes
Basic Brown Rice
Curried Brown Rice Pilaf
Brown Rice and Crunchy Vegetable Salad


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Buckwheat

(Kasha)
What to Look For
Whole or coarse roasted buckwheat kernels.

Buckwheat groats, commonly known as kasha, is an excellent source of magnesium, and a good source of copper and fiber. The hearty flavor of buckwheat flour makes for tasty pancakes.

Easy Cooking
Simmer 1 part groats per 2 parts salted water for 15 minutes.

Best Uses
Kasha makes a terrific pilaf. Toasting the grain before cooking gives it an extra flavor boost and speeds up the cooking time. Buckwheat pairs well with eggs and is especially good with onions and mushrooms.

Recipes
Golden Grain Griddle Cakes
Kasha

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Bulgur


What to Look For
Steamed, dried and cracked whole wheat kernels.

Bulgur consists of whole wheat kernels that have been steamed then dried and then cracked into grits. Fine or medium grind is most commonly used for tabbouleh and coarse or medium for pilaf. Bulgur is good source of iron and magnesium.

Easy Cooking
Cook 2 parts bulgur per 5 parts liquid over low heat for about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes more. Fluff with a fork.

Best Uses
Best served as rice or in salads and soups. Like most whole grains, bulgur pairs well with assertive, concentrated flavors such as fresh herbs, spices, dried fruits, nuts and acidic vinaigrettes.

Recipes
Fiesta Tabbouleh Salad
Bulgur


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Cornmeal

(Polenta)
What to Look For
White or yellow ground corn kernels.

Cornmeal has a soft, creamy texture when cooked. It is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus , zinc, copper, thiamin, riboflavin , niacin and vitamin B-6. Be sure to choose whole grain cornmeal.

Easy Cooking
For cereal, simmer 1 part cornmeal per 4 parts salted water for 30 minutes.

Best Uses
Great as a cereal and in baked goods.

Recipes
Down-Home Corn Bread
Polenta with Wild Mushroom Ragout
Lower Fat Polenta


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Hominy

(Grits)
What to Look For
Ground coarse, medium and fine kernels. Similar texture to cornmeal.

Hominy (grits) are whole kernels of corn soaked in lime to help remove their skins, then either frozen or dried. Hominy has a distinctive flavor. Its a good source of zinc.

Easy Cooking
Use 1 part grits per 4 parts salted water. Boil water, then lower heat and whisk grits into simmering water. Cook 10 minutes or more depending on coarseness, stirring occasionally.

Best Uses
Use as a simple cereal or a side dish.

Recipes
Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger's Pork Chili Verde with Posole
Grits

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Oats


What to Look For
Dried flakes of grain. Soft texture. The quick-cooking varieties are sliced more finely and are pre-cooked.

Oats are a heart-healthy whole grain that can help decrease cholesterol. They are also an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, thiamin and folate. Look for steel cut oats, also known as oat groats or Irish oatmeal, which are less processed and have a delightful, chewy taste.

Easy Cooking
Mix 1 part rolled oats per 2 parts water. Cook on low for 5 minutes. Stir often until boiling. Remove from heat, cover the pan and let rest 2 or 3 minutes.

Best Uses
Makes outstanding cereal; also good in baking and as a gravy or soup thickener.

Recipes
Muesli with Red and Green Grapes
Four Seasons Vegetable Burgers
Old Fashioned Oatmeal

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Quinoa


What to Look For
A tiny, light grain about the size of a mustard seed.

Quinoa has a sweet flavor and soft texture when cooked. It is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc , copper, thiamin and riboflavin.

Easy Cooking
Rinse, then cook 1 part quinoa per 2 parts water or stock. Bring to boil, then cook over medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes.

Best Uses
Makes unique side dishes, salads and soups. Prepare a double batch of quinoa and toss the leftovers in salads for an easy lunch.

Recipes
Aztecan Quinoa Salad
Quinoa

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Wheat and Cracked Wheat


What to Look For
Small, crushed whole wheat kernels that have a firm texture.

Wheat and cracked wheat make an excellent source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, thiamin, niacin and vitamin B-6.

Easy Cooking
Simmer 1 part cracked wheat per 2 parts salted water for about 40 minutes.

Best Uses
Good as cereal or in casseroles, salads and stuffing. Toast to boost the flavor and shorten the cooking time.

Recipes
Cracked Wheat
Herbed Garlic Scented Bread
Breakfast Bread with Carob and Carrots

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Wheat Germ


What to Look For
Tiny, crumb-like, pale gold grains.

Wheat germ has a nutty taste made from the inner part of the wheat kernel. It is a good source of vitamin C and fiber.

Easy Cooking
No cooking is necessary.

Best Uses
Great sprinkled over yogurt or hot cereal.

Recipes
Wheat Germ Bread

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Wild Rice


What to Look For
Long-grain, dark brown in color.

While wild rice is actually a seed and not a grain, it can be used as a grain for a delicious, nutty flavor. It has significantly more protein than brown rice and is an excellent source of calcium, iron, and potassium.

Easy Cooking
Rinse, then cook 1 part wild rice per 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, stir, and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed, from 35 to 55 minutes.

Best Uses
Combined with rice and other grains, wild rice makes an excellent pilaf or side dish with grilled fish, meat, or vegetables.

Recipes
Wild Rice with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts
Roasted Cornish Hens with Wild Rice Stuffing


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NOTE: An excellent source contains more than 20 percent of the Daily Value for that nutrient. A good source contains between 10 and 19 percent of the Daily Value.

   Source: Copyright 2000 by Ellen Haas.
From the book "Great Adventures in Food" By Ellen Haas.
Used with permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.

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