Great Meals with Great Grains
Chewy, moist, creamy, hot, sticky steamy, rolled, wrapped, stacked; whole grains are sweet, easy, versatile, nutritious, delicious, high-fiber, low fat, filling, satisfying, and energizing!
Whole grains are one of nature’s gifts that have nurtured people all over the world for centuries. These powerhouses—loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants—offer energy, great taste, and worlds of healthy eating pleasure.
Kasha, amaranth, teff, bulgur, couscous, quinoa, corn grits and rolled oats cook quickly: 5-15 minutes. Besides the standard boil and simmer, you can toast, marinate, bake, sprout, sauté, and even presoak grains to produce different textures and flavors. Kasha, quinoa, oats, and amaranth are complete proteins and gluten-free. Other gluten-free grains are corn, millet, wild rice, sorghum, teff, and numerous varieties of rice.
A fabulous variety of whole grains provide culinary excitement without hours of labor. You can cook grains alone and together with other grains, in infinite combination with spices, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Once you know the proportion of liquid to grains you can make up your own combination. Sometimes it may require a little math because some grains require more cooking liquid than others. Don’t let the math stop you. Go a little wild and improvise. Add cooked grains to a salad, stir fry, soup, or garnish with fresh herbs or toasted seeds.
Some Grains need to be rinsed. Place a measured amount in a pot, or large bowl. Cover grains with three to four inches of water. Swirl grains with a chopstick or wooden spoon. Pour off any floating debris, grain hulls, twigs, etc. Repeat until the water is clear. Some grains such as barley, oats, and millet are dustier than others and require a longer rinsing period. Spelt, and kamut are fairly clean and rinse quickly. Don’t bother rinsing teff. It is too tiny, and has already been cleaned before packaging. I also never rinse kasha (buckwheat groats) or flaked or cracked grains like rolled oats, spelt flakes, kamut flakes, corn grits, bulgar wheat, or cous cous. Do rinse red, tan and black varieties of quinoa unless the package says pre-rinsed.
Special Ways of Cooking Grains
Dry roast rinsed grains before cooking them or with:
- Vegetables and Spices
- Nuts and/or Seeds
To make them fluffy, light, individual, dry and nutty flavored.
Sauté rinsed, uncooked grains alone or with:
- Spices and Herbs
To make them moist, tender, individual, rich and flavorful, use sesame, extra virgin olive, or extra virgin coconut oils.
Soak rinsed grains in their cooking liquid overnight or 6-8 hours before cooking them. This makes them easier to digest and softer.
Want to be deeply nourished? Eat whole grains! Loaded with B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, fiber, and valuable antioxidants not found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains give you tasty protection against cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. In fact, I actually lost weight without trying by eating lots of gluten-free grains and gluten-free pastries.
Contributed by Leslie Cerier.