What’s in a grain?

I am sure you are someone that always hears how you should ‘eat your whole grains’ or ‘eat more whole grains.’  Do you know what this means?  Does it make you feel overwhelmed?  Well let me break it down for you nice and easy.

Whole grains have been the central element of the human diet since early civilization.  While many may be found in the rice section of your supermarket some may need a little more searching at the specialty market.  A lot of the whole grains can also be found in the bulk section of your market (and sometimes less than the prepackaged grains!).

A whole grain will keep you full a lot longer because they take longer for the body to absorb and digest them.  Whole grains provide a sustainable and high-quality energy for you to make it through the day easily.   They are also found to be an excellent source of nutrition because they contain vitamin E, iron, fiber, essential enzymes, and B-complex vitamins.

Grains also do not take very long to cook.  You could have them prepared in about 15-20 minutes (although some will take a bit longer).  You can substitute some or all of the liquid for broth as it will give them a bit more flavor.  Once cooked use a fork to fluff them instead of a spoon to stir.

Amaranth – This grain is high in protein (a complete protein) with 13-14%.  Has a short cooking time of about 15-20 minutes

Barley – Barley comes in two varieties hulled and pearled.  Hulled barley is higher in fiber than pearled.  The hulled variety has the outermost hull removed.  Pearled barley has the outer layer and the bran removed from it making it less nutritious and a bit chewy.  Barley does take a bit longer to cook at about 45 minutes.

Wild Rice – An interesting fact about wild rice is it is a grass.  The grain is harvested from the grass to make it something tasty for you to eat.  This is another high protein grain and is gluten free.  Wild rice is a product mainly of the United States and parts of Canada.  Just link barley this will also take about 45 minutes to cook.

Brown Rice – This grain is better choice than white rice because it has all of its layers that contain the nutrients.  It contains the highest amount of B vitamins out of all the grains.  Brown rice promotes good digestion, quenches your thirst, and also can balance blood sugar and mood swings.  It is also considered a complex carbohydrate which is good to maintain your energy.  This rice is also among the grains that take a bit longer to prepare at about 1 hour.

Buckwheat (kasha) – It is also one of the oldest traditional foods of Russia.  At first glace you may think that this is considered wheat but do not let the name fool you.  Buckwheat is actually a grain (and why it is on this list!) and also a relative of rhubarb.  Because it is not wheat and a grain it is gluten free.  Kasha is rich in vitamin E and B-complex and stabilizes blood sugar.  If you do not have all night available to you in the kitchen this grain will only take about 20 minutes to cook and is added to already boiled water.

Quinoa – The first time you saw this word you, like me, probably had no idea how to pronounce it.  This high protein grain has been consumed by those living in South America for thousands of years.  Quinoa has the highest nutritional value of all the grains.  It is high in vitamins B & E, iron, zinc, potassium, and calcium.  Containing all 8 amino acids makes it a complete protein.  Quinoa is also grain free.  You should soak the quinoa for at least 15 minutes before cooking to remove a possible bitter coating on the grain.  It can become a staple in your kitchen because it cooks fairly quick in about 15 minutes.  You know when it is cooked if you see a white ring on the outside of pot.

Bulgar (cracked wheat) – This grain is popular in Middle Eastern foods such as tabbouleh.  Just like many other grains it is high in fiber and protein.  It also has a low glycemic index.  Bulgar should also take about 20 minutes to cook.

Millet – This small round grain has been around for thousands of years.  It is popular in China, Russia, India, and Africa.  Millet is gluten free.  Looking for a grain that is highly nutritious than millet is the one for you as it is high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium.  Millet will take about 30 minutes to cook.

 

What is your favorite grain?  Mine is quinoa.

Share your favorite recipe with me.

How does your garden grow?

At the end of the winter my boyfriend and I decided that we wanted to grow a garden of vegetables.   We love eating fresh vegetables with our dinner so what better way to save a little bit of money than to grow them ourselves.  While he is doing the more ‘manual’ work I am just standing by and hoping that we get something.

How was this seed planted in our heads to grow a garden? In the beginning of March we went to our local nursery Hicks to see their ‘Spring Flower & Garden Show.’  Flowers are one of my favorite things and this was a free event so why not take a drive and look around.  They had a huge room where the show was and after we looked around the rest of the place.  We saw a whole section where they sell seeds and other necessities to grow fruits and veggies at home.  Both of us said ‘let’s do it’ and come back to decide what we want.   The hardest decision was choosing which vegetables to grow as our space is limited.  So, about 2 weeks later we went back to Hicks and picked out our seeds.  We chose tomatoes, green beans, tri-colored carrots, cucumbers, butternut squash, zucchini, and some herbs.  Much to our surprise there was not a huge price difference between organic and non-organic seeds so we went with the better option.

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We also chose an organic fertilizer and top soil for when the crops got planted in the yard to make this as organic as possible.  Hopefully there will be food to eat and the animals will not go after it!  About 2 weeks ago we went to The Home Depot to get peet pellets so we can start the growing process in the house.  Within a few days you could see a little green.  The Green Beans are the most active grower.

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A little over a week ago all of the pods went into the ground.   The temperature was finally warmer and the ground would not get so cold at night.  The herbs went into their own “bins” and the tomatoes went into a pot.  The garden space ended up being larger than expected but this was our ‘tester’ year to see if it can be done.

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After our crops were planted in the ground we went and got small fence pieces to put around the area so that the dog does not end up in it.  Hopefully she will stay out and we can share what we get with her 🙂

I will post progress photos and also any product that we are actually able to eat.  Hopefully this little project will grow into something larger next year.

Have you tried to grow a garden for fruits and/or vegetables?  If so, what kind?  Were you successful?

How you can get your children in the garden –

Starting a garden with your children is a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diet.
– Go to the store with them and choose some seeds.
– Start the planting process in your home (in peet pellets or even in a cup (or if you are really crafty egg shells)).
– Let them get dirty and put the dirt and seeds into the place you choose to start.
– If you are able to bring the crops outside do so when they are ready.
– Make sure you children are heavily involved in the process.
– Have fun with this.  Maybe play a game and measure how much each plant has grown once a week.
– When it is time to ‘harvest’ the crops let them take it off the plant but of course show them how to do so.